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Coffee Basics

This section will briefly go over the basics one should know when starting their coffee journey and hopefully answer some simple questions you may have. These include the difference between espresso and coffee, what makes a coffee blend a blend, and whether you should opt for whole bean or pre-ground coffee.

As you gain more knowledge and experience, you'll be able to delve into the more technical aspects of coffee roasting, brewing, and cupping. For now, we'll help you understand some of the basic terms that you'll need to be aware of when choosing the right coffee for you!

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Espress v Coffee

Espresso vs Coffee

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between espresso and other types of coffee? Or if there is a difference at all? The answer is: coffee labeled as "espresso" is roasted to work best with espresso brewing methods. It is labeled as such by roasters who source the beans with espresso brewing in mind. Just about any coffee can be used as espresso, although many prefer medium to dark roasts.

When roasting beans to use for espresso brewing, roasters will want to keep in mind how the coffee would taste when brewed as espresso and how it would taste when served with milk (since many espresso-based drinks contain milk). At the end of the day, espresso is essentially no different than other coffees you can purchase other than the fact that it was made to be brewed in a specific way.

By definition, coffee is a plant and the term "coffee" can encompass everything from brewing methods, roast profiles, processing method, origin, and more. Rather than compare coffee to espresso, it is better to compare the brewing methods or roast profiles, to make proper comparisons. The most common types of beans are Arabica and Robusta. Arabica beans are the most commonly used beans in coffee blends and are grown at high elevations in cool temperatures. They tend to have lower caffeine content and higher levers of acidity. Their flavor is sweet and nuanced. Robusta beans on the other hand are grown at low elevations in warm temperatures. They tend to have a higher caffeine content and are bitter with low acidity. These beans are used primarily in espresso blends to add bold, rich flavor and thick crema.

Toasting Drinks
Specialty Coffee

Specialty Coffee

"Specialty coffee is a term that refers to the highest grade of coffee available. This can be in relation to the supply chain, using single origin or single estate coffee. The term is also related to the current demand for quality coffee that is farmed ad brewed to a very high standard. By definition, specialty coffee is any coffee that scores 80 points or above on the 100-point scale used on the Specialty Coffee Association Cupping form.

The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) sets the standards for specialty coffee at every stage of the coffee production. This includes permissible defects in green beans, water standards, and brew strength. The SCA also sets specifications for the coffee grading process. Despite there being different definitions of specialty coffee (depending on the organization), most will agree that there is a general set of three minimum requirements in order for it to be considered specialty coffee. The coffee should be hand-picked, scoring 80 or above in Cupping, and have no more than 5 defects per 350 grams. There are also organizations and activists who are working to add strict environmental and social indicators to the grading of specialty coffee.

Coffee Tree Harvesting
Coffee Blends

Coffee Blends

A coffee blend is a combination of two or more different coffee beans that are blended together in order to create a unique taste and aroma. Blends can be made up of beans from different regions, countries, or can be made of a mix of Arabic and Robusta beans. Blending beans allows roasters to create complex and nuanced tastes that can't be found with single-origin coffee.

Roasters will make blends to create balanced flavor profiles, establishing consistency between batches, or to cater to specific flavor preferences. In order to make a blend, roasters need to consider the flavor profiles of each bean and roast levels. Blends with more Robusta beans will have a strong, bitter taste and blends with more Arabis beans will have a sweet, complex flavor.

Some factors to consider when choosing coffee blends include the flavor profile, roast level, origin, and its intended use. If you prefer a mild taste, choose blends with fruity notes (light roasts) and if you prefer strong, full-bodied flavors choose a blend with dark, smokey notes (dark roasts). Consider the origin of the beans as well since that will also affect their flavors. African beans are typically bright and fruity whereas Central American beans are chocolatey and nutty. Finally, different blends might be better suited for specific brewing methods. However, at the end of the day, the most important factor is your personal preference. Don't be afraid to try new blends and experiment to find the perfect fit!

Triple Blended Coffee Beans
Whole Bean v Ground

Whole Bean vs Ground

Whole bean coffee is the final stage of coffee after a long process of harvesting, processing, and roasting. Of course, coffee still needs to be ground before being brewed so it may seem appealing at first to get pre-ground coffee. However, whole bean coffee offers more freshness, flavor, and aroma compared to pre-ground coffee. Additionally, it offers greater versatility, longevity, and consistency. Although whole bean takes longer to degas, it degrades much more slowly compared to pre-ground. Peak flavor and aroma occur 7-10 days after roasting and starts fading on day 15-21 for whole bean. It also offers versatility since you can control the grind size.

When purchasing pre-ground coffee, there is often no way to tell when it was ground, meaning it could have been ground weeks or months ago. Once ground, coffee begins to quickly lose its freshness and aroma, causing it to go stale very quickly. For pre-ground coffee, full aroma may not be present by day 15 and will only continue to degrade from there. It is also less versatile since you are limited to the grind size and can't adjust it the way you would with whole bean.

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