How to choose the best coffee beans?

Even the most expensive coffee machine can make bad coffee. 

The coffee beans you use has a big impact on how the coffee tastes, therefore, it pays to choose coffee beans carefully.

But how do you choose the best coffee beans and how to navigate the large selection of them?

In this article, you will find the answer, as I have compiled a guide to what you should be aware of when buying beans for your coffee.   

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couple drinking coffee

How do you choose the best coffee beans?

Origin, roasting, brewing method, price, freshness and packaging. 

These are  things that are good to remember as a starting point when choosing your coffee.

They give you a good basis for choosing the best coffee beans for your coffee.

Taste is individual and is built on a wide range of parameters.

First of all, not everyone likes the taste of coffee, but for those of us who do, it’s not a bad idea to find the best coffee beans.

The sense of taste is one of the most complex senses man has. 

It is primarily defined by one’s taste buds that sit on the tongue, and which then send impulses to the taste centre in the brain.

Overall, you can divide the sense of taste into 5 parts.

It is also these 5 definitions we often use when we have to try to define a taste experience.

This is especially true when we talk about coffee beans.

The 4 most common flavor categories are:

  • Sweet
  • Salt
  • Sour
  • Bitter

In 2001, a new flavor category was added to the list so that today it consists of 5 different ones.

It’s Umami. 

Since the definition of umami taste is relatively new, very few people know about it.

Overall, umami means good taste in Japanese. 

We primarily know the umami taste from tomatoes, especially sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, seaweed and several others.

When it comes to tasting a coffee, it is therefore important that you have all 5 senses of taste in the back of your mind. 

Most of us have often heard how coffee can taste bitter, but in reality, the flavor nuance of a coffee made from some of the best coffee beans is far more complex.

Different types of coffee beans

When it comes to coffee beans, there is a whole terminology with different concepts around coffee. 

Coffee beans are primarily divided into 2 categories:

  • Arabica coffee beans
  • Robusta coffee beans

Arabica coffee beans are often considered to have a higher quality in taste. 

They grow in higher terrain and allow the beans to develop the taste over a longer period of time as the plant grows a little slower in higher air layers. 

About 70% of all coffee beans sold in supermarkets are of the Arabica type.

The taste of Arabica coffee beans is often a little sweeter than Robusta and has a softer and rounded taste.

Robusta coffee beans contain more caffeine than Arabica. 

They are more resistant and can therefore be produced more easily in large quantities. 

This is also because they grow faster than Arabica coffee plants. 

This is why this type of coffee bean is mostly used to make instant coffee. 

The robusta coffee taste is mostly more bitter and sharp in taste.

Origin

The original look of the beans has a big impact on how they taste. 

If you look around the world, there is a big difference in how the coffee is grown, harvested and roasted. 

Local conditions such as soil and climate also leave their mark on the taste of the coffee.

Below I give you a brief introduction to the flavors that characterize the coffee from 7 of the largest producers in the world. 

So there is no single answer as to where the best coffee beans come from, but when you get a good cup of coffee it pays to check which bean it is brewed on. 

Is it  robusta  or  arabica 

Is it from  South over or central America,  Africa or a blend?  

Incidentally, the ready-mixed bags of coffee often contain a mixture of coffee beans from different parts of the world.  

Harvest

After harvest, the beans must be roasted, but the way it is made varies from place to place, and this has a big impact on how the coffee tastes. 

You can roughly distinguish between light, medium and dark roasted beans – below you can read about the different roasts:  

Light roasted

Light roasted coffee beans traditionally have a dry, light brown surface. 

They are sour and have a fruity aroma – and then the light beans have high caffeine content.

Should the coffee provide extra energy for mornings or late hours, then the light-roasted version is with a certain probability the best coffee beans for the office.  

Medium roasted

Medium roasted coffee beans have a darker and fuller taste than the lightly roasted version. 

On the other hand, this type of bean contains a little less caffeine than light kind.

Also, note that medium roasted beans have a slightly darker surface than the light roasted.  

Dark Roasted

Medium roasted coffee beans have a darker and fuller taste than the lightly roasted version. 

On the other hand, this type of bean contains a little less caffeine than light kind. 

Also, note that medium roasted beans have a slightly darker surface than the light roasted.  

Green Coffee beans

Green coffee children are for you who want to control the roasting yourself. 

The best coffee beans are some that are roasted just to your liking. 

And you have good opportunities for that with green coffee beans. 

Green coffee beans are exactly like the beans you buy in bags – they just have not been roasted yet. 

If you want to be in control of the roasting yourself, then this is a good opportunity to control the process. 

And it’s actually quite simple to roast coffee beans. 

You can do this both on a pan and with a so-called ” drum ” shaker.  

Brewing method

The best coffee beans also suit the brewing method used. 

In most cafés today, light-roasted single-origin beans are used as espresso beans. 

The lightly roasted coffee beans give the espresso just the right taste, whereas a darker roasting can easily result in a too bitter or sweet espresso. 

In the same way, one can advantageously avoid coffee blends and instead go for bags of whole beans from the same place in the world.  

Note that if you go out to buy espresso beans, you will most likely go in vain. 

Espresso beans are just a common term for the coffee beans that are suitable for espresso, but the popular coffee shot is actually brewed on ordinary beans.  

Makes you filter or plunger coffee it is not so important what coffee beans you use. 

Here you can easily experiment with different blends and roasts in search of the best coffee beans – according to your taste. 

If you buy ground coffee, you must in turn make sure that the grinder is not the right one.  

Price

There is no doubt that there is a connection between price and quality, but cheap coffee beans can easily be good – and they are available in many different varieties. 

If the budget for coffee is limited, try with the cheap coffee beans for a start. 

There is a sea of ​​blends, so I wonder if there are some that fall into your – and the rest of the office taste. 

If you want to invest in an exceptionally good cup of coffee, then it pays to replace the cheap coffee beans with a slightly more expensive version.  

Freshness and durability

Coffee beans already begin to lose flavor 14 days after roasting.

For a  tasty coffee experience, it is, therefore, crucial to use freshly roasted beans.

And if you include the time of transport and storage before the beans reach where the coffee is brewed, then the coffee beans must be used relatively quickly to give the best taste experience.  

However, coffee beans – like tea leaves – rarely get decidedly bad as long as they are stored properly. 

That is, they e.g. preferably should be stored in an airtight, dark and not too hot or humid environment. 

The expiration date and toasting date should appear on the coffee bean packaging. 

Whole coffee beans have a longer shelf life than ground coffee, and if the coffee beans are stored properly both before and after the packaging is broken, they can last a  long time – in unbroken packaging typically half to a whole year.  

And just storage and packaging is important because most companies have a small coffee store where the coffee beans easily come to stand for some time before they are used. 

Due to coffee’s relatively rapid taste reduction after roasting –  and the importance of the environment in which the beans are stored  – the packaging plays an important role in relation to the coffee’s taste and quality. 

Packaging

In general, it is best to get your coffee beans freshly roasted. 

Whole beans that are completely freshly roasted have the strongest aroma and taste. 

As soon as you have the coffee beans, it is important to keep them dark and cool. 

Most coffee beans come in a non-transparent bag, which ensures that they are stored in the dark. 

But also remember to keep them cool.

The packaging likewise is also very important for how the coffee beans taste.

As mentioned, the beans hold on to the flavors and aromas best if they are not in contact with air.

Therefore, look for beans that are packed in an airtight bag with a one-way valve – this means that carbon dioxide from the beans can escape, but that no oxygen can enter. 

This helps to ensure that the beans do not become degassed and tasteless after roasting.  

Roasting coffee beans

As mentioned above, one should preferably not have coffee beans where more than a month has passed since they were roasted. 

In most supermarkets, you will unfortunately not find whole coffee beans where the toasting date is stated.

Instead, it typically states a “least durable” date.

However, it is mostly up to 2 years out in the future, so it still does not tell you when the coffee was roasted.

It is therefore recommended that you go to a speciality store or even better a store that has its own roastery.

On the back of any bag of good whole coffee beans, you can always read what date they were roasted. 

As mentioned earlier, both the flavor nuances and the aroma are better in freshly roasted coffee beans, so it is not entirely unimportant.

The best coffee beans in the world

The above information provides a good background knowledge regarding what types of coffee beans are available and how to handle them in the best possible way. 

There is no point in buying expensive beans if you leave them on the kitchen table for several months and at the same time give them lots of light. 

If you make sure to store them in the right way, as well as keep track of the date they were roasted, then you are assured that you get the best taste experience. 

Thus, we can now present some of the best coffee beans on the market right now.

We start from the bottom and then move upwards as the quality of the coffee beans increases:

Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee

At the top of the list, I have one of the most award-winning coffee beans.

It is no coincidence that it is number 1 on our list of the best coffee beans. 

It creates a taste experience not found anywhere else when it comes to coffee.

The coffee plant has grown wild for thousands of years in Ethiopia, and this is where the tradition of coffee originated. 

The story goes that a shepherd discovered the properties of coffee around the year 500.

He had observed his sheep and how they sometimes became extra “fresh” when they were in certain areas. 

He quickly got it linked to some of the berries the sheep ate, namely the berries from the coffee plant. 

After this, the shepherd, together with a monk, managed to boil the berries for what would later turn out to be coffee.

As previously mentioned, we have now come to a coffee that is “wet” processed. 

This is unlike most other coffee beans that are “dry” processed. 

The processing takes place by washing the green coffee beans immediately after they have been picked. 

That way, you quietly remove the peel, and finally, you get the coffee bean.

It produces a more moist bean with amoisture content of just over 10%

It gives the coffee a cleaner taste and a particularly sour taste that you do not achieve by drying.

Yirga coffee is considered by many to be the best coffee in the world.

Therefore, it also ended up at the top coffee on CoffeeSamurai`s list of some of the best coffee beans in the world.

Wife coffee beans from Hawaii

Our second last coffee on the list of the best coffee beans comes from a place not normally associated with coffee, namely Hawaii. 

But before we start reviewing why the coffee is exceptionally good, we must first point out that you can risk getting coffee from Kona that is far from high enough quality.

According to Hawaii law, coffee from Kona must be certified if it contains a minimum of 10% beans from Kona. 

The remaining 90% can therefore be cheaper beans and, you get far from the quality you would expect if the coffee contained 100% Kona coffee beans.

Once you have found a coffee producer where it is clear they only use 100% coffee beans from Kona, then you can then dive into the quality. 

Coffee from Hawaii is divided into 8 quality categories, starting from “Mixed natural prime” and all the way up to “Extra Fancy.

Coffee beans from Kona in Hawaii are award-winning coffee. 

It is light and fruity in taste and with an aftertaste of passion fruit. 

The coffee plant achieves its rich flavor through the volcanic soil of Hawaii, which is a unique microclimate.

Most coffee beans you buy from Kona will only be roasted when you buy them. 

This achieves the full taste experience and prevents the taste and aroma from disappearing too quickly.

Coffee beans from Nicaragua

The next on our list of best coffee beans are a little more general.

Nicaragua is one of the smaller coffee-producing countries, and therefore we have also chosen to include the whole country, although of course there can also be large quality differences between the coffee beans that are exported from the country.

Nicaragua is number 12 on the list of countries that produce the most coffee. 

In total, 132,000 tonnes of coffee are exported each year. 

The coffee was introduced by Catholic missionaries back in the 1700s and has today become one of the most important products exported from the country. 

In the country, you will also find some of the largest coffee beans called “Elephant” beans.

In addition, about 95% of all coffee in the country is produced as “Shade-grown”. 

This means that the plants are in their natural environment and grow in the shade of larger trees. 

You have thus failed to cut down trees and thus do not destroy the habitat around the coffee plantations. 

It should reportedly also give a better taste to the coffee.

The taste of coffee is a bit sour and with elements of chocolate. 

If you are therefore looking for a slightly more sour coffee, this is a must-have.

Coffee beans Huila Province, Columbia

When talking about coffee-producing countries, Columbia will often be one of the countries you first think of. 

Besides Brazil and Vietnam. it is also the country that produces the most coffee worldwide. 

In total, about 800,000 tons of coffee are exported from Columbia each year. 

Therefore, of course, there are also some of the best coffee beans right from here.

Huila Province is the region that produces the most coffee in Columbia. 

At the same time, in 2013, the province achieved a status of “Denomination of Origin” also abbreviated PDO. 

This is the same status you know in particular at Champagne which can only be called champagne if it comes from the Champagne region in France. 

A large number of cheeses have the same status as e.g. camembert cheese.

Coffee beans from Huila province have gained a reputation for making particularly good coffee. 

The aroma is sweet and generally, the coffee has a fruity taste with a sweetness that is characteristic of the coffee beans from the province.

Harrar coffee beans from Ethiopia

Ethiopia is considered by many to be one of the countries that produce the best coffee beans.

Therefore, the country also appears several times on this list. 

The first coffee beans we would like to mention are therefore the Ethiopian Harrar coffee.

Coffee production from Harrar is one of the oldest sites still in operation. 

All handling is done by hand and it has a reputation for being spicy and with small nuances of wine. 

Like most other good coffee beans, the coffee plant grows at an altitude of 1500-2000 meters in the Oromia region of southern Ethiopia. 

Unlike some of the other coffee beans on the list, Harrar is dry-processed. 

This is done by picking the fruits from the coffee plants and then laying them out to dry in the sun. 

When they have dried long enough, you can peel the peel off and thus find the coffee bean. 

Drying the beans is the most common way of processing coffee, but further, down our list of the best coffee beans, we will still encounter “wet” processing.

Guatemalan Antigua Coffee Beans

Guatemalan Antigua coffee beans naturally come from Guatemala. 

Guatemala is located just south of Mexico and is home to a large number of rainforests, Mayan temples and a number of volcanoes. 

The latter plays a role in the coffee beans that come from the country. 

The region is located in a valley with 3 volcanoes all around. 

The beans come from coffee plants that grow about 1500 meters above the surface of the water, which is an ideal environment for the plant. 

The earth is rich in mineral areas thanks to volcanoes and the climate is at the same time stable.

Both parts help to make conditions relatively optimal for the coffee plant. 

Thus, it sneaks into our list of the best coffee beans.

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