How to Buy Coffee

The Tips and Tricks to Selecting the Right Stuff

How to Begin to Buy Coffee?

Choosing the right coffee for your beverage of choice can be an experience that's both exciting and very rewarding.  However, if you don't know where to start, it can also be quite overwhelming.  Perhaps you know you like it "mild" and you can confidently order a "tall skinny caramel macchiato," but beyond that, concepts like Arabica, blend and body get confused with short, hard bean, quakers and maragopipe.  With coffee beans coming from all corners of the globe with every possible blend, flavoring addition and roasting length and style, it's a wide, wide world when it comes to narrowing down your choice to 70 little coffee beans to make yourself a cup of coffee!

The Right Roast for the Right Beverage

One of the easiest places to start with is selecting the roast that will provide you with the flavor and feel you enjoy most. 

  Light Medium Medium-Dark Dark Darkest
Color:

Light brown

Chocolate brown

Dark brown

Black

Black/Charred
Taste: Very mild Stronger than light, but not a lot Mild aftertaste: bittersweet Defined bitter taste, burned flavor Charcoal undertone
Oil: No oil Still no oil Oil droplets on surface Pronounced oil on surface No oil, cracked and dry
Includes: Light City, Half City, New England, Cinnamon Breakfast, American, City Full City French, Viennese, Italian, Espresso, New Orleans, High, European, Continental Spanish

Choosing Coffee by Origin

Another way to look at coffee is by the region it comes from.  Whether you're looking for something sweet and fruity or something deeper with an earthy undertone, you can help to achieve your desires by searching for a bean from a particular region.

Region: Distinguished by:

Americas

Light to medium body

Clean mouth feel

Barely sweet

Pronounced acidity

(Includes Arabica and Robusta)

Arabia and Africa

Definite sweetness

Often produces a fruity aroma

Tart acidity

Indonesia and Pacific

Smooth taste

Full body

Less acidity

Sometimes an earthy, exotic undertone


You can even also straight to a specific country:


Country Known for:
Columbian Sweet, only mild acidity, very easy to drink
Costa Rica High in flavor but not overly strong.  Moderate acidity but mild taste
Ethiopia Bold to medium body and flavor.  Intense aroma
Guatemala Medium to moderate body; smoky, spicy flavor
Hawaii (Kona) Mild but higher in caffeine than most mild flavored coffee
Kenya Fruity flavor, mild acidity, soothing aroma 
Sulawesi Full body, intense and bold flavor.  Exotic hints
Sumatra Bold flavor, full body, but less acidic than Sulawesi.  Pleasing aroma and satisfying taste profile

Buying Whole Beans vs. Buying Ground Coffee

If you're really after the best cup of coffee possible, the recommendation is to buy whole beans and grind your own.  This does mean you will have to purchase a grinder if you do not currently own one.  This stems from the fact that within a mere hour after being ground, coffee beans will have already begun to lose their aromatic properties and will not produce the same aroma and beverage you could achieve with the exact same coffee beans freshly ground.  However, if a grinder and the grinding process is not of interest to you , then we suggest looking for high-quality pre-ground coffee by a brand like Lavazza that has perfected the packaging process to allow for instantaneous packaging and venting to allows gasses to escape but keeps oxygen out.

Buying Coffee, In the Store or On the Web

Where you buy your coffee is completely a matter of preference, but wherever you shop, you should go with someone reputable and who is knowledgeable about where the beans came from and what they should deliver in your mug.  You can pay anywhere from $8 to $30 per pound for gourmet coffees, so if the coffee doesn't taste like you think it should, it's important that you can speak with your roaster or dealer personally. This is especially important when beans are overly roasted/burnt tasting, or not roasted enough and brew without the appropriate flavor or aroma. Shopping online from a reputable business allows you to have fresh beans delivered straight to your home and eliminates much of the hassle for you.  Online staff are also trained to help you pick an appropriate selection that will meet your needs, which is often much easier than tracking down a busy salesperson in a coffee shop.