coffee beans

All About the Bean: 9 Expert Tips for Buying the Best Coffee Beans

Have you got the best coffeemaker around, but still not enjoying your brew? Chances are, you’re haven’t found the right beans yet.

Perhaps you’ve been buying only the most expensive beans at the market, but they’re just not cutting it. Or maybe your friends have recommended their favorite beans, but they just don’t move you.

The best coffee beans are not necessarily the most expensive, and what’s right for one person may not be right for another.

So How Do You Find the Best Coffee Beans?

Finding your perfect coffee bean will require a little investigative work, but it will be well worth it. After all, there’s really no point in having a great coffeemaker if you’re not loving what it’s brewing. So here are some expert tips that will help lead you to the perfect cup of joe.

1. Purchase Whole Bean Only

Always purchase whole beans, and be sure that the beans are arabica and not robusta. Arabica is of much higher quality.

Although there are ways to grind coffee without a grinder, it’s in your best interest to get one. There’s no better cup of coffee than one made with fresh ground whole beans. This is because whole beans retain their natural oils and flavors longer than beans that have been ground.

Another benefit of grinding your beans is that you have complete control over the grind – which is important depending on how you brew your coffee.

choosing coffee cherries

2. Understand Your Own Tastes

Do you tend to prefer your coffee to be smooth, or do you like something with more bite?

Beans have varying acidity levels and are roasted for different amounts of time. All of these factors contribute to their flavor.

Generally speaking, the lighter colored beans are roasted for less time and tend to have a smoother taste.

Meanwhile, darker beans have been roasted longer. They tend to be shiny because more of the oils have been brought to the surface. These oils impart a bolder and more bitter taste.

3. Buy From a Respected Roaster

If you have a coffee roaster right in your town, that’s ideal. This is your best chance of getting high-quality beans that are consistently roasted. Plus, you’ll have an actual roaster at your disposal whose brain you can pick.

But even if you don’t have that particular luxury, you can experiment with coffee from independent coffee shops that source their beans from roasters.

You can also experiment with independent roasters on the internet. Some of them even offer small batches so you experiment with different taste profiles.

4. Insist on Fresh Roasted

When deciding which bag of whole coffee beans to purchase, it’s crucial you check for the roasting date.

You want beans that were very recently roasted because the coffee’s flavor is in its oils. Those oils are quick to dry up and disappear if there’s too much time between roasting and grinding.

Respected roasters always put the date that the beans were roasted on the bag. Commercial roasters, on the other hand, don’t do this because they often mix batches that were roasted at different times – and often from different sources.

coffee roaster

5. Determine How Much Caffeine You Want

Since dark beans are bolder in flavor, people often believe that they have more caffeine.

As we mentioned above, the longer a bean is roasted, the more oils are drawn from the bean. But the caffeine content is in those oils too.

It’s actually the lightly roasted beans that maintain their caffeine content. So if you’re looking for that caffeine buzz, stick with the lighter roasts.

6. Check the Country of Origin

Coffee varieties come from all over the world and their taste varies from one country to the next. For example, coffee from Brazil tastes different from Ethiopian coffee.

Once you start experimenting with different beans, you’ll likely find that you prefer some countries of origin more than others. But you can’t always rely on the country of origin since rainfall and soil composition can change from year to year.

coffee light roast

7. Be Aware of Its Elevation

Another reason coffee tastes different from region to region is because of the elevation at which it is grown. You might be able to find the altitude level listed on the label of the coffee beans you’re considering.

Coffee that grows at higher elevations takes longer to ripen and it has more time to draw nutrients from the soil. This leads to a very distinct flavor.

Again, this does not mean a BETTER flavor. But you just might find that you really like the flavor of coffee grown at high altitudes.

8. Know How It Was Processed

Along with all of the above factors, the way beans are processed plays an important role in their flavor too. Once again, a serious roaster will provide the roasting method on the label.

The most common method of processing is wet or washed. First, the fruit is run through a machine to separate the pulp from the beans. The beans are then fermented in water to wash off additional residue so that the beans can be dried.

During fermentation, changes in flavor occur.

With the dry process, the fruit is set out to dry naturally before being pulped to retrieve the beans. Beans that are dry-processed tend to have a distinct and even fruity flavor.

green coffee cherries

9. Store It Correctly

There is a misconception that storing coffee beans in the freezer will keep them fresher longer. The problem is, moisture in the freezer will eventually find its way to those beans and ruin their flavor.

Instead, once you’ve done all the footwork to find those valuable beans, keep them in an airtight, opaque container out of the light.

What Is Your Ideal Bean?

On your quest for the best coffee beans, there is definitely a lot to consider. But the investigative work is pretty enjoyable!

Once you find those perfect beans, you might need to upgrade your coffeemaker. Be sure to check out our reviews of coffeemakers for 2019. Then get ready to really start enjoying your brew.