Guide to Coffee Beans
Coffee Bean Roast Levels
Typically, coffee beans are roasted before they are consumed. Coffee roasting levels can range from light to medium to dark, all of which have very different flavor characteristics. Roasters start with a raw, green coffee bean before roasting them to the desired levels. There are hundreds of coffee roasters out there who have created an infinite variety of coffee roasts and flavors, but simply knowing the difference between light and dark coffee can make a world of difference.
Coffee roasting is exactly as it sounds. The coffee beans are placed into a coffee roaster, or even an oven, where they are heated and toasted until they reach a certain roast level. In general, these coffee roast levels result in the following flavor profiles:
Light Roast – Coffee beans are roasted until they are light brown in color and tend to have a milder flavor. Because these are so lightly roasted, they do not have much of a smoky flavor, and have not yet developed much oil on the surface of the bean. Often, new coffee drinkers will start off with a lighter roast.
Medium Roast – The coffee beans are roasted longer, resulting in a slightly darker brown color. Here, we start to see a stronger flavor, but still have not developed much oil on the surface of the bean. Many people like to stick with a medium roast as their preferred coffee bean due to its balance and lack of bitterness or smokiness.
Medium-Dark Roast – We now start to see some bitterness appear in the coffee bean taste as well as some oil on the surface of the bean, which will be visible in the cup when the coffee is poured.
Dark Roast – Dark roasts are, expectedly, much darker in color. They often have a pronounced smoky or charred flavor and an enhanced bitter aftertaste compared to medium roast beans. In addition to there being a number of dark coffee beans out there, espresso beans are sometimes also referred to as dark roast coffee.
Whole Bean vs Ground Coffee
Ground vs. Whole Coffee Beans
When purchasing coffee beans, perhaps the most important thing to note is whether you are buying ground or whole coffee beans. Many prefer the convenience of ground coffee as it does not require any additional work to prepare the coffee for brewing. Others purchase only whole coffee beans due to either the desire to maintain freshness or to dial in exactly on how coarsely they would like the beans to be ground. If you selecting ground coffee beans, then you will not need to do anything else to prep them before you brew. However, if you select whole coffee beans, then you will need to purchase a coffee grinder such as the KRUPS Electric Spice and Coffee Grinder.
Coffee Bean Storage
Usually, you can store your coffee beans in the bag or container they were purchased in. However, you may choose to keep your coffee beans in a sealed container for added freshness. Mason jars work great for coffee bean storage.
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Have you experienced the waterfalls of the Road to Hana in Maui? Or perhaps the wonders of the “Big Island” of Kona? If you haven’t, then get your butt there. Everything about the fiftieth state screams paradise, including its amazing Hawaiian coffee. In particular, the island of Kona sports the crème de la crème of coffee. Thankfully for those of us who can’t wake up to beaches and rainforests every day, Kona coffee beans can be found on the mainland as well.