Choosing Your Coffee - A Handy Guide!
Buying your first bag of Speciality Coffee – Grind Size, Bag Size & Roast Profile
Like most things in life, coffee is one of those things that a lot of people don’t spend too long thinking about. Whether it be instant coffee (25% of all coffee drunk worldwide is instant) or coffee from a pod machine (1/3 of homes in the UK have a pod machine), brewing at home for convenience is how a significant proportion of coffee drinkers enjoy their daily brew. But every so often the world of speciality coffee gets its hooks into somebody, and once it does, it’s hard to know where to start.
The number of people who come to the roastery or send us a message saying “I like a strong coffee; which one should I buy?” or “I make my coffee in the pushy-pressy thing, I need it ground fine right?”, we felt the need to try and break down some of the more common terms people use and lay out what we think is the most useful information to get you started on your Speciality Coffee journey.
Once you’ve made the quantum leap from pod machines or instant coffee to “proper” coffee, you’re bombarded with terms like grind size, extraction time, roast profile, brewing ratio etc etc etc and it’s no wonder people don’t really know where to start. In this guide we’re going to start with the absolute basics to consider when you’re buying coffee from a roaster.
Which coffee? Dark, Medium or Light?
There seems to be no shortage of terms for how people describe their coffee when they’re asking us for advice; strong, weak, punchy, something that will wake me up, not too strong etc. Strength and caffeine content are terms that are used by a lot of people interchangeably; however our Decaf Colombian Coffee is a darker roast and is what somebody might consider a “strong” coffee, despite having 0% caffeine!
If you say you like a really “strong” coffee, what most people tend to mean is they like a darker roast. For coffees that you want to cut through a milk-based drink, we would recommend our Colombian Excelso, Brazilian Morro Agudo and Costa Rican coffees. With notes on the dark chocolate, caramel and nutty side of things, these coffees are what most would consider having quintessential coffee flavour – “proper” coffee.
More mellow coffee
Medium and lighter roasts tend to accentuate different aspects of the coffee bean; our medium and light roasts we recommend for Filter or French Press drinkers who enjoy the subtler aspects of black coffee or those just starting to appreciate the complexity of speciality coffees – fruity, citrus and more acidic flavours. Our Papua New Guinea tastes to us like it has a blackberry finish, and our newest Ethiopian Sagara has a real lemon, citrusy sort of vibe without a hint of bitterness when brewed correctly. You can absolutely still enjoy these with milk, they would simply produce a much more subtle, sweeter coffee.
Give me caffeine!
For a caffeine kick, go for our Morning Blend, which uses Vietnamese Robusta beans as part of the blend which have twice the caffeine as your normal Arabica coffee bean!
Bag Size – Do I buy 225g, 500g or 1kg?
First thing to consider when thinking about your purchase is how much coffee you’re likely to drink over a period of time – freshly roasted coffee is at its best if drunk within 6 to 12 weeks from roasted date (depending on how well you store it, see our other blog post for information on that), so if you’re only drinking coffee every other day, compared to somebody who has 3-4 cups a day, you will want to buy different quantities so you’re always drinking coffee at its best.
Coffee drinkers come in all shapes and sizes, so if any of these sound like you this can be a good place to start;
The casual coffee drinker (less than 1 cup a day on average) – a 225g bag will keep you going a while. This should get you around 12-15 cups of coffee, so should last you a few weeks.
The waker-upper (at least 1 cup a day) – you’ll get through 225g in around 2 weeks, perfect for somebody who wants their coffee beans/grounds super fresh. If you want to buy coffee less frequently, we’d recommend 500g or 2 x 225g for a bit of variety.
The coffee nut/coffee drinking family (2-3 cups a day) – you’ll blast through 225g in less a week, and 500g in around 10-15 days. Whilst 1kg may sound like a lot, you’ll probably get through this on a monthly basis.
If you were happy buying coffee more frequently or wanted a subscription, we would always recommend buying less coffee more often to get the freshest coffee!
Grind Size – Fine, Medium or Coarse?
As important as roast profile when you’re selecting your coffee is getting the grind level right. Too fine for your brew method, and you end up “over-extracting”, which means you end up with a really bitter coffee; go too coarse and you under-extract, meaning you end up with an acidic coffee, or worst case a flat, boring tasting coffee. Needless to say, you want to get this bit right!
Whole beans – for you to grind at home either in a bean to cup machine or your own grinder. For tips on how to grind at home see our blog on ground coffee.
Coarse – ideal for Cafetière or French Press made coffee
Medium – ideal for Filter Coffee, such as a V60, Chemex or Aeropress
Fine – idea for home espresso machines or Moka Pots
The world of coffee is an ever-changing, ever developing field where people are constantly searching for that amazing new blend, trying new origins to expand their horizons, or trying new brew methods to experience coffee in as many different ways as possible. Hopefully we’ve given you the tools to get started on your own speciality coffee adventure, but for any questions feel free to drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will happily give advice or answer any questions you may have. Happy brewing!