Even the highest quality coffee beans will produce low-quality coffee when brewed in a reduced-quality automatic coffeemaker.
It’s crucial to start with the highest quality coffee beans. Espresso machines of the best quality and proper techniques can only do so much.
No matter how perfect your technique, you won’t be able to improve the quality that much if you’re starting with low-quality beans.
In fact, coffee scientist Christopher H. Hendon suggests that the outcome of any given cup is dependent on four key variables: the quality of the green (unroasted) coffee beans, the roast, the water, and the brewing technique.
However, he doesn’t give each of these equal weight.
What Influences Cup quality?
Hendon says the green coffee beans’ quality has the most significant influence on the brew (50%).
Its impact is enormous compared with those of the roast (20%), water (20%), and brewing technique (10%) to emphasize, this is assuming that the brewer uses the best methods.
Another way to look at this is to realize that there are limits to what a great roaster and a great brewer can do to improve the bean’s quality if the quality is not there.
Robusta vs. Arabica
Variety of coffee trees and the conditions where it is growing also make a big difference in the flavor of the coffee.
There are only two important species of coffee trees that produce coffee beans that are widely sold: Coffea Arabica and Coffea Canephora (also known as Coffea Robusta).
Arabica beans have a better, sweeter flavor and are the way to go for making great coffee.
Robusta coffee is easier to produce and has more caffeine, but Robusta is bitterer than Arabica.
You may be able to tell the difference between Arabica beans and Robusta beans by looking at them- Robusta beans are more round, and Arabica beans are more elliptical in shape.
Processing The Beans
Coffee processing is the stage where the coffee seeds or coffee beans are extracted from the coffee cherry.
The process by which the cherry is removed can significantly affect the taste of the beans.
There are several processing methods
Here are some of the conventional methods of processing coffee and how they affect flavor.
The main ones are natural or dry process, pulped natural or honey process, or washed or wet process.
Each processing method will have an effect on the flavor of your coffee.
When brewed, natural process coffee tends to have robust fruity notes and full body texture.
Pulp natural coffees will lack the natural process coffees’ fruity notes, but it will have a very similar body texture.
It will have the sweetness and the acidity similar to washed process coffee.
Wash process coffee tends to be juicy as far as texture and will have delightful bright flavors and good acidity.
When buying coffee beans, you should find on the label or listed on the website what process the coffee is. But if you don’t, leave and buy from someone else.
By storing your coffee beans correctly, you can keep a high quality bean fresh for up to a couple of weeks from the time it was roasted, but not more than that.
To freeze or not freeze?
There is a debate in the coffee industry regarding freezing coffee.
Some say you should, and some say not to freeze.
I go by what my roaster tells me, just buy enough for a couple of weeks at most, and keep it in a dark, cool place.
The enemies of coffee are oxygen, moisture, heat, and light.
So the best way to store it is in airtight, opaque canisters in a dark, cool, and dry place.
One right way to store coffee is to divide it into smaller portions. Keep about half of it in one container and the rest in another.
This way, you can use one container for one week, and the other half of the coffee won’t be exposed to air every time you open the can.