A little guide on what to look for when buying coffee beans, how to tell which beans are of quality and how to store them at home.
buy coffee beans
Before buying, it is relatively difficult to impossible to recognize the quality of the bean itself.
However, the following indications suggest, that the producer has put in some effort to detail with the quality of his product:
- The coffee is in a package with an “aroma valve”. This allows the coffee to outgas, but does not allow air back to the coffee (more on this later).
- The date of roasting is specified. Coffee should ideally be consumed for a period between 1 to a maximum of 12 weeks after the roasting.
- The origin or region of harvest is specified. Just as with wine different regions do bring different flavors to the taste.
- The coffee costs more than 5 € / kg. Yes, quality costs. Even with coffee.
recognize the quality
Did you find the bean of trust, you can now move on to the evaluation.
As relatively quickly and easy to determine, there are major differences in quality of the coffee. Some of these are not immediately obvious, while others may even recognize the loan immediately.
Before roasting mistakes in and with the beans are in general easier to identify. The darker the bean is roasted, the more difficult it is to designate the quality. Both visually and gustatory.
There is no uniform system of classification for coffee beans. This varies from country to country. But the process is mostly the same.
In general, a sample of 100-300 grams of processed but raw coffee is examined for spoilt beans. The errors are differentially evaluated. The strongest deductions are for foreign bodies in the green coffee, such as stones or branches. The number of defects is then added and the coffee classified by that. One of the most common classifications is the “Brazilian Classification” in which the beans are referred to the “Type”, in which Type 2 (up to 4 defects) is the highest quality level and type 8 (360+ defects) represents the lowest quality level.
At home you can verify the quality at least fundamentally, by controlling the beans on the following:
- Single estate coffee beans should have all the same size. If this is not the case, the beans are roasting unevenly, which means that the beans are partly over- or under-roasted. In a blend, a mix of different beans, this is not the method to go as the beans are often roasted separately from each other and not mixed until after the roasting.
- Following this you should consider whether the roasted bean color is uniform. This means that all beans should have approximately the same color. If this is not the case that also suggests an uneven roasting.
- The beans should have no apparent damage. Holes in the bean = insect infestation – not good. Broken beans – not good. moldy beans – not good at all!
- The beans should have a uniform appearance, so no deformed beans, or “empty shells”.
Even with high quality coffee it is possible that sometimes wrong beans do find their way in the bag. The better the quality, the less you should find.
There are coffee enthusiasts who control their coffee before consuming again – manually bean per bean. But when taking this time you really have to love your coffee a lot.
Arabica or Robusta, as often wrongly assumed, is no statement about the quality of the bean. These are two different types of coffee, which differ greatly in flavor. Whereby the Arabica is more demanding and more versatile in its flavors.
However, there are very good Robusta beans and poor Arabica beans. Therefore a 100% Arabica is not necessarily good and a coffee with Robusta share or even a 100% Robusta coffee is not necessarily bad.
That would be like comparing wine with beer and saying beer is of inferior quality, because the variety of flavors is not as great as with wine. Especially in Bavaria it is likely to encounter little enthusiasm with such a statement.
At the end of the day it’s a matter of personal taste.
Coffee beans belong to the fridge! Assuming you want to free your refrigerator of unpleasant odors and flavor your coffee with them. So who is into Gouda in the coffee cup, should do just that!
However, to all other readers I suggest to forget about it.
Coffee is hygroscopic, which means that he attracts moisture and with that odors from its environment. Accordingly it does not belong in fridges.
Instead, it is best to leave it in its resealable package and store it in a dry, cool and dark place. In the kitchen cupboard to be concrete.
If possible coffee should always be stored as a whole bean. Ground coffee has an enlarged surface and loses extremely fast at aroma. In the air it has already lost a not inconsiderable part of its flavors after only 20 minutes.
Like all foods even coffee has a limited life expectation.
He does not spoil when stored for too long, but loses much of its aroma, becomes rancid and developes unpleasant flavors up to the point when it is inedible.
As a whole bean, stored properly, it can be kept for 2-3 months, but even in this period, the quality deteriorates constantly, but within reasonable limits.
In powdered form, it should be consumed within a few days. The earlier the better.
Vacuuming does not help with quality, since this reduces the outgassing and the coffee aromas thus can not develop properly. Is the coffee too fresh, a vacuum bag even tends to explode.
Why? Immediately after roasting it is not yet operational. By roasting chemical processes are set in motion which ensure that the coffee releases CO2 after the roasting. This process causes the coffee to release a lot of gases at once if it gets in contact with hot water. Thus the water can not get to the coffee, resulting in a under extracted, bland cup. Depending on the roast and bean the coffee should be left alone for 3-10 days to outgas and to be able to fully develop its flavor.
This leads us to an approximate time frame from the 7th day up to 3 months.
Now 2 things should be clear::
- The date of roasting on the package is always of interest.
- Devices which roast, grind and brew the coffee in the same minute are nothing more than a new marketing gimmick by these “I-did-study-something-with-media” specialists.
In the event that you know in advance that the 5 kilos of coffee that you purchased in the intoxication of enthusiasm at the last Coffee House visit, will be sufficient for longer than 3 months, there is still an escape.
Freeze the bean.
Thus the flavors can again preserve a lot longer. Here, however, you should definitely make sure to grind the beans in a frozen state and only to take out the amount you need. Once the coffee is defrosting it is the same with an ice-cold can of Coca Cola, again the unpleasant problem with the moisture occures and you can confidently carry out the defrosted coffee to the organic waste.
Now you should be ready to recognize a good coffee making the next shopping a little easier. Then have fun shopping and drinking coffee!