How to Choose Good Quality Coffee Beans
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Published by TOP4 Team
Coffee is a beverage that is loved by millions of people across the globe. It is available in so many different varieties and preparations — from strong and black, to sweet and flavoured, to steaming hot or iced or ice blended — from so many different coffee chains and local cafes that it can be easy to think that you can always get your favourite coffee drink anytime you step out of the house.
However, it's also such a wonderful feeling to be able to prepare fresh, cafe-quality coffee in your own home whenever you like. For this to become a regular experience, you would need to buy your own coffee beans — but how will you know if the beans you are looking at are fresh and will yield some of the best cups of coffee you've ever tasted?
Provided below are simple guidelines for choosing high-quality coffee beans for that perfect cup of joe.
Buy whole coffee beans, not ones that have already been ground. Most people shy away from buying whole coffee beans because they are made to believe that whole beans have a peak freshness period of only three to four weeks. However, when coffee beans are ground, they are more exposed to air, moisture, and other elements that can quickly affect their quality and will be at peak freshness for only a few days. So make sure to buy whole beans and grind them only right before you make your coffee, to experience the highest level of freshness and best taste.
Observe coffee suppliers before buying. If you can, take the time to look around a coffee supplier's store more than once so you can get an idea of their practices. Do they display coffee beans in open tubs or sacks? How frequently do they roast coffee beans? Are the expiry dates on the bags of coffee they sell quite far off? These are warning signs that the coffee is not as fresh as it looks.
Coffee beans in open sacks are exposed to heat, light, air and moisture, which will affect their quality. In such bulk displays, there is no way to know how long ago the beans were roasted. And ground coffee will only be fresh for a few days, so long expiry dates are red flags that the coffee is likely stale.
Buy coffee beans that are locally roasted. It may be thrilling and a bit romantic to see that you've purchased or been given a bag of “imported roasted coffee beans,” but this is actually a bad sign. Coffee's freshness depends on the time elapsed since it was roasted, not since it was harvested. So if the beans were roasted in Italy, you can expect that the processing, packaging and shipping time it took to bring the coffee to your local stores has already made the coffee stale even before you buy it.
So establish a relationship with a coffee supplier that roasts coffee beans locally and replenishes stocks frequently.
Look for coffee beans in one-way valve coffee bags. When coffee beans are roasted, they release carbon dioxide for several days. When packed in one-way valve coffee bags right after roasting, the beans can de-gas inside the bag; the one-way valve is designed to let the carbon dioxide out, while preventing air and moisture from coming into the bag. These bags should be thick, lined, and have a button-like one-way valve at the top.
Stay away from vacuum-sealed coffee bags, because those coffee beans typically de-gas (and are thus exposed to air, light, moisture and heat) before being packaged. Likewise, thin, clear, and window plastic bags shorten the coffee's shelf life, and the brick-like coffee packs are made to be shipped and stored for long periods, indicating stale coffee.