How to find high quality coffee beans

From their aroma to their natural taste – there is quite simply nothing I enjoy more than a delicious, high-quality coffee bean. From the second I smell one, I simply cannot wait to get the product of it in my favorite coffee mug.

But, these high-quality coffee beans can often be like gold…

It is a beautiful hidden treasure, but, that means you have to go searching for it. And, that is not always the easiest task.

However, I will tell you that the joy of finding some of the best, high-quality coffee beans is well worth the search.

So, why waste any more time?

Here are a few tips on how to find high-quality coffee beans:

What do I look for?

Look at the place of origin

Anybody can label their coffee with a seal claiming great quality and service, but only those who really care about the pure essence of their coffee beans will be bold enough to list the variety, farm, or country of their coffee bean’s origin. A good, high-quality coffee will have a roaster who is proud of their coffee’s origins – even down to the farmer’s name – that’s how you really know it is the real deal.

Tip: Look for coffee from areas like Brazil and Colombia. Brazil is actually the world’s largest coffee producer.

Check the roast date

Just like when you go to buy milk and you check the expiration date when you go to buy coffee check the roast date. The roast date will tell you when the coffee was roasted.

But, why is that important?

Well, most companies just list an expiration date. However, roasters of true high-quality coffee beans will put the date the coffee was roasted to prevent the coffee from staying on the shelf longer than a few days.

This will help ensure you get some of the freshest coffee which also greatly impacts the flavor.

Go for a one-way valved bag

One-way valved bags are the best way to ensure freshness because they disable oxygen from entering the bag – which results in a lengthened freshness.

Try to avoid another packaging like tin cans.

White coffee cup and coffee beans around

Where do I go?

Visit your local shops

Most people take to big name, chain grocery stores to buy their coffee. However, most streamlined grocery stores simply carry the big, well-known and generic brands.

But, your local coffee shops are almost as much of a hidden gem as your high-quality coffee itself.

Investigate what local shops sell retail bags of beans, then, ask them about the origins of the coffee and the roast date. If you find that the employee can’t answer your questions, it likely isn’t top grade. But, if they appear to be quite the coffee bean expert then it is likely you are about to get your hands on some true gold.

Order online

While buying your high-quality coffee online might not be the cheapest option – thanks to shipping charges – ordering this way can open up a world of possibilities.

Through their website, you can gain an exponential amount of knowledge about your roaster, their coffee, and locate some of those truly hidden gems you might not even find in your local shops.

So, now that you are equipped with all the knowledge you need to find high-quality coffee beans, it is time to begin your search.

Good luck, my friend!

By Anna-Belle Mulder.

Anne-Belle is one of my favourite bloggers. Check out She Said for her perspective on travel, fashion, photography and more!

How one man went from instant to grinding beans at home

Just over a year ago I was talking to a friend of mine about coffee. At this point in my life I enjoyed a coffee from @homecoffeesouth. The coffee is always of great quality and the staff are always on hand to talk about the one thing they love the most… COFFEE !!

As my friend and I continued to talk, we agreed on one thing… how difficult it can be to enjoy quality coffee at home. We all have a jar of instant coffee at home but I wanted something better, something special, made with love and on a daily basis.

This is where my coffee journey began. My friend recommended an online coffee company called @pactcoffee. Now, they are one of many companies offering coffee delivered to your door but I can only talk about these guys. They trade directly with farmers all over the world. That means they source the best coffee in the world while ensuring unbeatable pay for their farmers.

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Source: Huh. Magazine

I started with a different bag of ground coffee being delivered to my door every ten days or so. I initially used my coffee machine or stove top to enjoy the coffee but after immersing myself in the world of coffee and asking anyone who would give me the time of day lots of questions, I finally settled on a V60 at home.

The chaps at @homecoffeesouth allowed me to make my own under their guidance and it’s how I still make my coffee to this day. Now, I’m talking allowing 30 seconds for the coffee to bloom, pouring the water in circles and having the whole set up on scales so the whole drink finishes at 300 grams. The whole process takes around 3 minutes. It might sound a little over the top to some but I find it very relaxing and I know by doing it this way I’m doing the freshly ground beans justice. The coffee tastes smoother and more flavourful too (it’s what the beans deserve after all)!

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Source: Huh. Magazine

If I’m honest, I love offering guests at my home a coffee because the theatrics of making the coffee are impressive to those who don’t feel about coffee the way I do. I’ve converted a few friends to drinking their coffee without milk and sugar (as it should be) as it’s the only way to truly appreciate the depth of flavours in great quality coffee.

I have upgraded my experience by purchasing a coffee grinder and now enjoy freshly roasted beans delivered to my door. I wouldn’t ever go back to one of those coffee chains again (I can’t even type their names) as they just don’t stand for what I believe in.

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Source: Huh. Magazine

I’m a keen advocate of fair trade, treating the farmers well who create this fantastic coffee for us to enjoy and to encourage future generations to do the same. If I have to pay more for a great bag of coffee so that I can help support the livelihood of the farmers, I’m ok with that!

Happy sipping!

By Simon Frost

Simon is a 36 year old family man from England. He loves great coffee, great beer (preferably craft) and spending time with his family. His brew method of choice is V60 as it produces smoother more flavoursome coffee. Find him on instagram here.

Here’s the best advice if you’re thinking about getting into speciality coffee

I had a serious bout of cabin fever a few nights back. I needed to get out. So I grabbed my camera and laptop and headed to a coffee shop. The plan was to blog.

When I ordered a cappuccino the barista asked me if I’d like to try their festive season blend. And after describing it to me I asked him if a cappuccino was the best way to appreciate the work that went into it. His eyes lit up and he asked if he could prepare it in a chemex. He was super excited about the idea.

I listened carefully as he described each step in the brewing process. Why he was wetting the filter paper. Why he chose the grind size he did. Why he let the coffee bloom. Why the pour was a slow, circular exercise. Why he was watching the timer. And why he really appreciated me giving him the chance to brew me a chemex.

We tasted the coffee together. He complimented my slurp. We talked about the tasting notes. Then he let me go.

I enjoyed everything about that experience. I enjoyed that he was so young. I enjoyed that he was so genuinely excited about talking me through the brewing process. I really enjoyed the coffee. And I enjoyed making a new friend.

That’s the best advice I can give you if you’re considering getting into speciality coffee. Embrace the learning. Ask questions. Be inquisitive.

Yes, sometimes you’ll meet a barista for whom the job is only a job. He won’t be interested in giving you an education. But sometimes you’ll meet Gusty. And he’ll inspire you to learn more.

Go meet your Gusty.

 

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How does an Aeropress champion brew an Aeropress?

Dan Erasmus runs one of the latest and most exciting additions to the Johannesburg speciality coffee scene, Firebird.

And he won the 2013 South Africa Aeropress championship with this recipe.

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Ingredients:

  • Coffee: Long Miles Coffee Gaharo Hill Peaberry
  • Coffee dose: 17.5g
  • Coffee grind: medium-coarse
  • Water weight: 220g
  • Water temperature: 94 degrees celsius

1.  Bloom for 25 seconds.

 

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2.  Fill to 220g.

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3.  Steep for one minute.

 

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4.  Then stir, put on filter cap, flip, and slowly press.

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Champion tip: let it cool a lot before drinking it, the flavour will be much more intense and the sweetness will grow.

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Photography by Creative Wei

How does a barista champion brew an Aeropress?

Ishan Natalie has been a friend of @manmakecoffee for a while now. He is a 3 time South Africa Barista Champion, a 2 time Africa Barista Champion, the South Africa Aeropress Champion 2012 & a Humans of Coffee alumnus.

And this is his Aeropress recipe.

  • Coffee: Ozone Coffee‘s Burundi, Munyinya Hill by Long Miles Coffee
  • Method: inverted
  • Grind: medium
  • Coffee weight: 15g
  • Water weight: 220g
  • Pre-infusion: 50g water, 35 seconds
  • Action: swirl, fill water to 220g
  • Action: place cap, release air pocket & flip
  • Action: press & extract
  • Result: juicy, bright, sweet & fruity

Enjoy!

For more, follow Ishan on Instagram at @dodgybarista.

The cover image of Ishan competing at the World Barista Championship in Seattle was taken by Pavel Zhdanov.

A guide to coffee brewing techniques

A Guide to Coffee Brewing Techniques

People have been drinking coffee for hundreds of years. The earliest evidence of coffee being roasted and brewed goes back to the 15th-Century in Yemen (Weinberg et al., 2001).   They simply roast and ground the coffee before throwing it into a pot with hot water.

Over the years, the methods used to brew coffee have evolved considerably. While some cultures still use very simple brewing techniques, others have developed elaborate machines that are carefully designed to create the perfect cup coffee! In this article Arik Weiss, CEO and Founder of London based Doppio Coffee will examine the most common brewing techniques that can make a delicious cup of coffee.

Coffee Brewing Techniques

There are several methods for brewing coffee, but they can all be classified in one of four ways:

  • Decoction (Boiling):

This is the technical name for extraction via boiling. Coffee grounds are placed in boiling water to extract their flavour.

  • Gravitational feed (Filtering):

Coffee is usually placed in a filter of some kind and hot water is poured into in. The hot water extracts the flavour and seeps through the filter. Percolators and drip brewers use this technique.

  • Infusion (Steeping):

This is the process of gradually extracting flavours from the coffee grounds by placing them in a solvent like hot or cold water. A French press uses this method.

  • Pressurized Percolation:

Pressure is used to push hot water through tightly compacted coffee grounds. This is the technique used by espresso machines.

Decoction

Perhaps the simplest brewing technique, mixing boiling water with coffee grounds has been used by various cultures for hundreds of years. It is still a popular way to prepare coffee in the Middle East, Indonesia and some Nordic countries.

Ideally, the grounds will be mixed with the hot water long enough to allow the flavour to emerge without drawing out any bitter compounds. The key to preventing bitter compounds being extracted is to keep the water just below the boiling point.

Some of the common techniques for making coffee using decoction include:

  • Mud Coffee:

Finely ground coffee is placed in the bottom of a cup, then freshly boiled water is poured in. The drinker then waits for the grounds to sink to the bottom of the cup before consuming their drink. This is a common way to drink coffee in many parts of Asia.

  • Turkish Coffee:

Finely ground coffee is placed in a pot with a narrow top (called a cezve in Turkey). Sugar may also be added to the pot and it may be flavoured with cardamon. It is brought to the boil, then removed from the heat. It may be brought to the boil on a few occasions. Traditionally, Turkish coffee is then poured into small cups. This is a very old technique for brewing coffee and is used in many countries throughout Africa, the Middle East, the Balkans, and Russia.

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Turkish coffee. By @d.ferrent.
  • Cowboy coffee:

This method uses coarse-ground coffee beans that are immersed in a pot and heated until boiling. The pot is then taken off the heat and the grounds are allowed to settle in the bottom of the container.

Gravitational Feed

This category includes a variety of devices that use gravity to push water through a filter that holds coffee grounds. Some of the devices include:

  • Neapolitan flip coffee pot

The bottom of this device holds a reservoir of water, there is a filter in the middle holding the ground coffee and a chamber in the top to receive the brewed coffee. The device is placed on a stovetop to heat up. When the water boils, it is pushed up a spout, soaking the coffee and emptying into the top chamber.

  • Electric percolators

This is a very popular device in western countries. Coffee is placed in a paper filter and placed into the machine. A container is placed beneath the filter to catch the coffee. The coffee machine drips hot water onto the coffee filter, soaking the coffee. The filter allows the brewed coffee to flow through, but not the coffee grounds.

  • Cold brew coffee

Coarsely ground coffee is placed in a large container with cold water. The coffee is allowed to brew in this cold water for a very long period — usually between 8 to 24 hours. The coffee is then drained through a filter to remove the coffee grounds.

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Cold brew coffee. By @ryanhermens.

There are many commercial products on the market that use the filtration method for brewing coffee. They include the Hario V60, Chemex, Kalita Wave, the Walkure Bayreuth Porcelain Pour Over Brewer, and the Kone. These devices use uniquely shaped filtration systems with the goal of achieving a better cup of coffee.

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Hario V60. By @haswawed.
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Kalita Wave. By @kiuchi_yosuke.
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Chemex. By @koz.t.

Infusion

Steeping involves letting the coffee sit in hot or cold water for a set period to extract flavour from the coffee grounds. The most famous device for the infusion brewing of coffee is the French press. It is a tall and narrow cylinder that comes with a plunger that has a fine mesh filter.

The coffee grounds are placed into the container with the hot water, then after a few minutes of brewing, the plunger is used to push the coffee grounds to the bottom of the device. The coffee can be poured out while the plunger holds the coffee grounds at the bottom of the container. Other variations of infusion brewing include:

  • Coffee bags

Similar to tea bags, they are simply immersed in the water for a few minutes, then removed.

  • Sock brewing

In some parts of Asia and South America, a sock is used to hold coffee that is steeped in hot water. In many cases, the sock is reused multiple times.

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Sock brewing. By @a.s.djatmiko.

Pressurised Percolation

This technique involves hot water being pushed through coffee grounds under pressure. It is the most common form of coffee brewing performed in coffee shops throughout Western countries and is know as “espresso”. Other methods that use pressurised percolation include:

  • Aeropress

This is a handheld, non-electrical device that uses pressure to push medium-temperature water through coffee grounds.

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Aeropress. By @lightrailwl.
  • The Moka Pot

This is a three-chamber pot with water in the lower section and coffee in the middle. As it boils, the pressure created by the steam forces the water upwards, through the coffee grounds and into the third section.

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Moka Pot. By @rushyama.

Many of these methods can create coffee with a unique flavour. It is worth experimenting just to find out how different each method makes the coffee taste!

Sources:
Weinberg, Bennett Alan; Bealer, Bonnie K (2001). The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World’s Most Popular Drug. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-92722-6. Retrieved November 18, 2015.

The fundamentals of brewing coffee

The fundamentals of brewing coffee are straight forward. We complicate things a little too much sometimes. Keep the following things in mind and you’re on your way to a great brew.

Water is a big factor…

Water represents around 90 percent of your brew. In fact, you’re drinking delicious flavoured water. I don’t want to get too geeky and explain water chemistry, but to create the perfect cup, your water needs to be the best it can be.

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First, if the water doesn’t taste right, don’t use it. It’s pretty simple.

As a rule, bottled spring water or a good filtration system are your best bets. I use filtered water from my Brita filter jug. Brita filters are an easy and cheap way to get great quality water both for brewing coffee and drinking. I did an experiment comparing Melbourne tap water to tap water filtered through my Brita filter jug. The results where based on taste. The Brita filter produced a sweeter and more acidic cup.

Second, for most brewing methods, I recommend heating your water to 92-96 degree celsius for the best flavour extraction. Using a thermometer to measure the temperature is definitely the best way to go. If you haven’t got a thermometer, allow your kettle to get to boiling temperature and then let it rest for 30-45 seconds.

Grinding

To keep your coffee fresh, it’s best to grind your coffee only when you need to use it. Grind it when you’re ready to start brewing. There are many grinders on the market: from the trusty hand grinder to the fully automatic versions. I suggest you try and get a burr grinder. Burr grinders are great because they produce are very even grind size.

I adjust the grind size for each brewing method. I write my brewing guides the way I like to brew, but it’s definitely something you can adjust to suit your taste. It’s good to experiment with grind and dose size. For example, try a higher dose with a coarser grind or a finer grind with a smaller dose.

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Roast

When you’re brewing for filter, use beans with a lighter roast profile (rather than an espresso roast profile). Lighter roasts perform better in the cup when brewing filter coffee. They are sweeter and have a lot more clarity. If roasted well, you will find that the flavour profile is true to the origin characteristics. For example, Ethiopian coffees should be bright, very floral and have high acidity.

Pay attention to the roast date on the bag. I think consuming filter roasts between 2 to 8 days is optimum. You will lose some of those subtle flavours in your brew if your coffee gets older.

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Cleaning 

You should clean your brewing equipment after every use. If you leave your equipment dirty for a long period of time, coffee oils tend to leave a rancid smell. The easiest way to clean your equipment is straight after each use in hot water. Cleaning solutions can be used, but be sure to rinse throughly. You don’t want a soapy taste in your next brew.

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This post was written by Matthew De Angelis, a coffee roaster from Melbourne, Australia and a coffee blogger at Brewing is for Everyone. Since people are becoming more and more interested in all the different brewing methods available, he decided to create simple brewing methods that he does in his own kitchen and share them on Brewing is for Everyone. Go check it out for more recipes, machine reviews and people interviews. All images from his awesome  Instagram feed.