Purchasing online coffee beans, just like purchasing in your local supermarket is pretty straightforward. However, you may come across a couple terms that you do not understand. 5 years ago the majority of the human race treated coffee as coffee! These days more and more of us are after great coffee. You don’t always need to go to a coffee shop and have a barista make you a good cup, it can be done in your own home. This is my first article I will be doing in a series caled ‘Onlne Coffee Beans’. The aim of this series will be to explain the basics of coffee under the following points:
- What is the difference between single origin, blends and flavoured coffee beans?
- Light, medium and dark roast – Is the one not just more burnt than the other?
- Purchasing coffee beans vs coffee grounds
- Fine vs Coarse coffee grounds – Does it make a difference?
Single Origin vs Blend vs Flavoured Coffee Beans
I firmly remember ordering my first bottomless coffee at a popular South African coffee shop franchise. When placing the order I was asked by the waiter whether I would like to have the local house blend or one of the single origins first. When I enquired what the difference was, the response I received was that the single origins came from Kenya and Uganda(could have been different countires); and the house blend was a blend that the shop had chosen.
For many years after this occasion, I used what I had leant that day when ordering coffee. My understanding was the single origin coffee beans came from a certain country and house blends were a selection of beans chosen by the coffee shop.
Through frequenting coffee shops, I picked up that beans from different places had different underlying flavours, but that these beans were’nt flavoured coffee beans. Confused!
Let’s dig deeper…..
What is Single Origin Coffee Beans?
Single Origin is a term used to describe coffee beans that come from the same area. These beans are generally grown on trees at a single farm, but can also be from a group of farms in a limited geographical area. In the above example I mentioned a single origing coffee bean from Kenya.
My understanding was that the beans came from Kenya, meaning it could have been a mix of beans that were grown in Kenya. My understanding of single origin was incorrect – yes the coffee beans were from Kenya, but they would have been from a specific area(town/province) in Kenya. The same can be said for any other single origin coffee bean from any other county. Popular single origin coffee beans are: Kenya, Ethiopi, Guatemala, Brazil and Columbia. The main reason for single origin is to bring out the flavours synonymous with certain areas.
What is a Blend of Coffee Beans?
In essence, a coffee blend is just that. It is a mix off coffee beans from different origins that is enjoyed as a single brew. On the whole, blending coffee beans is usully done by commercial roasters as a means to reduce costs and sell their coffee beans at a lower price. Roasters combine lower grade coffee beans with higher grade origin coffee beans.
Cost isn’t always a factor when roaster chose to ake blends. Each origin has its own unique flavour. Roasters create thier own signature blends by combining origins with unique flavours that compliment each other.The quality of the blends can be exceptional at times, sometimes outdoing single origins beans! It also allows coffee consumers to get the cup of coffee the desire. If you enjoy the caramel and nutty flavours associated with Columbian coffee beans but you also enjoy a cup of Ethipian coffee and the fruity & Foral flavours it ontains; you may really enjoy a blend of these 2 where all these flavours come together in a ful bodied cup of coffee.
What is ‘Flavored’ Coffee Beans?
Flavoured coffee beans have had a substance that is ‘non-coffee’ added to it. This generally is a syryp that coats the beans after they have been roasted. The most common flavours are vanilla, hazelnut and almond. Most time, lower quality beans are used for flavours as the flavours hide all the floors in the coffee beans. This isn’t my favourite cup of coffee, but hey that is just me….
So which one do I chose?
That is totally up to you, but I would not recommend you making a choice based on what you read on the internet. They only way to know what you like is to experiment. What I find is that I like all types of coffees, but I prefer some more than others. I have yet to but a bag of beans that I have had to throw away because I did not like it, so I buy my coffee without the fear of wasting my hard earned money. I know what I like through trying. You may find that on a whole you enjoy single origin coffee beans, but your ultimate favourite may be a certain blend. As long as you are not buying instant coffee, you are on the right track!!