You've now bought a new bag of whole espresso beans and are wondering how it will taste or perhaps looking for new espresso beans for your espresso machine? Here we will share with you some important points to consider when choosing espresso beans.
The absolute most important piece of information found on a coffee bag is the roast date. Depending on the roastery, the roast date tends to appear in slightly different places on the bag but make sure there is a roast date. Absolutely DO NOT buy coffee that does not have a roast date. Stale coffee is very difficult to work with and almost impossible to get good results from. That's why we recommend coffee that has been roasted within two weeks.
After the beans are roasted, it will start to release carbon dioxide that was formed during the roasting process and is present in the cell structure of the bean. The carbon dioxide gas is slowly released over time and the process increases upon contact with water or oxygen. The thick foam on top of your espresso is also called "Crema" and this is the result of the carbon dioxide found in the espresso beans that gives the delicious aroma and texture. The older the coffee, the less crema and therefore the coffee will be waterier and taste worse. Therefore, it is important to buy beans that are as freshly roasted as possible.
To extend the life of the coffee, we recommend keeping the coffee in a cool, dry place in the coffee bag or in an oxygen-tight container.
Just because the coffee is getting old doesn't mean it needs to be thrown away. Before you decide to throw away precious coffee, you can first try grinding it finer to get more out of the coffee. If this didn't work, you can try a different brewing method that isn't as affected by how fresh the coffee is.
There is no set standard for how dark or light the coffee must be roasted. However, the level of roast can drastically change the density of the coffee beans, how easily the coffee can be extracted and how you need to adjust your brewing to the characteristics of the bean. The longer the bean is roasted, the more the bean will lose its structure and become drier and thus will have a darker roast profile. For those who brew espresso, need to focus on the following aspects; brewing temperature, the degree of grind i.e. how finely or coarsely you grind your beans and last but not least the ratio of water to coffee.
Because light roastedcoffees have a shorter roasting time, they have a higher density and thus are more difficult to extract all the aromas, flavours and texture from the coffee. To counteract these difficulties, you need to brew at higher brewing temperatures, grind finer and brew longer. We recommend starting with a ratio of 1:2 to 1:3 between coffee and water, brewing temperature of between 93 to 96 degrees with a grind that allows you to achieve a brewing time of between 28 to 34 seconds.
For medium roasts, we recommend a ratio of 1:1.5 to 1:2.5, brewing temperature of around 93 degrees and a grind that allows you to brew in 25 to 30 seconds.
For dark roastedbeans, we would recommend starting with a ratio of 1:1 to 1:2, slightly lower brewing temperature of 90.5 to 93 degrees with a milling rate that allows you to get a brew time of 25 to 30 seconds. Just because it says dark roast on the bag doesn't mean you'll get the best result by following our recommendation to the letter, but is a good start to experimenting to find the tastiest result for your particular beans.
Region and altitude
Coffee is usually named after the region where it comes from. Flavours fromthe coffee will also reflect the region where it comes from. Generally, the coffee comes from these three regions, South and Central America, Africa and Southeast Asia which are regions close to the equator. Coffee plantations need rich and fertile soil, mild temperature, frequent rain and protection from the sun and high altitude to grow.
The best coffee beans grow between 600 and 1850 metres above sea level. This is because the higher the altitude, the less oxygen is available, which in turn can slow down the growing process. The longer the growing process, the more time the coffee has to mature and form complex flavours. When roasters write on the bag the altitude at which the coffee was grown, it indicates how intense the coffee's flavours can be.
If you see that roasters write that the beans have notes of chocolate, caramel and blueberry, it means that with proper brewing you can get such flavors without adding anything. Brewing espresso and being able to sense these specific notes can be difficult and take you to learn. You are always working towards the natural bitterness and acidity that comes with coffee. The art is to be able to get a balance between bitterness and acidity to bring out the good notes from the coffee by following the recommendations above and trying it out.
Espresso blend or single origin?
When choosing coffee, check whether the bag is an espresso blend or single origin. Single origin means that the coffee comes from only one farm. An espresso blend may mean it is a mix from different farms and regions. Roasters usually produce blends to get a good, well-balanced espresso bean and are a great start for those new to espresso brewing! Espresso blends are usually easier to brew a Single Origin and go well with milk such as lattes and cappuccinos. Single Origin would be categorized more nerd coffee where you really want to enjoy the unique and specific notes and flavors that this particular farm can offer and thus recommended to drink in pure espresso form or as an Americano.
After the coffee beans are harvested, it needs to be processed before it is shipped to the roastery. How the coffee beans are processed can determine the flavours of the coffee. The most common processing method is the beard-dried coffee, also known as the natural method, and the washed coffee. Coffee is originally a fruit. When the berries have turned red sometimes yellow or yellow-red they are harvested and inside the berries is the coffee bean itself. In the natural process, the coffee berries are sun-dried for a few weeks until the berries are completely dry. The coffee that receives this type of processing usually gets the fruitiest flavors and is usually grown in the African regions. Washed coffee is the most common method because it requires the least labour and is an efficient and quick method. Washing the beans allows you to separate the bean from the berries. Washed coffee usually has a rounder and more balanced flavour.
The next time you're thinking about getting a new coffee bag. Check out what the roasters have written, there is a lot of useful information about flavours, roast dates, roasting process, roast profile and much more. By understanding what the different information means and how it can be implemented in your brewing, you can get rewarding results. Hopefully this article has provided something that can help you brew even better coffee in the future.
If you're looking for something new, we can recommend our espresso beans on our website. We always sell freshly roasted beans from the finest roasters in Sweden.