Bold or strong, mellow or smooth, black or with milk and sugar. How do you really like your coffee? Have you ever tried knowing more about your coffee, beyond the price, the brand and the taste? Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world, and has a history marred with lots of interesting stories and some not so pleasant incidents. History aside, your cup of coffee is lot more than just your daily caffeine kick. Here are six most important factors you must consider when buying your coffee, to now only learn more about it, but also to understand what you really prefer. These attributes would not ideally apply if instant coffee is all you buy and have. Instant coffee is generally commercial coffee processed to make it easier to make coffee. But trust me when I say, once you start brewing your own coffee, you will realize it takes about just the same amount of time to make instant coffee, but tastes so much better and allows you to experiment and learn so much about your cuppa.
Every cup of coffee begins its journey with its beans. Its all about the right beans, isn’t it? There are two main types of coffees – Robusta and Arabica. Arabica is the most commonly sold type of coffee beans across the world. Robusta is generally a wilder variant of coffee and has a stronger body. Compared to Robusta beans, Arabica beans are more aromatic in nature. Most commercial coffees, instant coffees, and specialty coffees are Arabica beans.
Today, there are many coffee growing regions around the world. Countries like Kenya, Colombia, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Brazil, Papua New Guinea, India and many other regions are popular coffee growing regions. Each region is known for growing a specific variety of coffee, and the region is quite a factor in determine the flavor profile of the coffee. For instance, Indian coffees are known for their rich aroma and broad flavor. The region, terrain, altitude, etc. play an important role in determining the flavor attributes of the coffee.
Like every other produce, coffee too is graded for its quality attributes. The coffee you have could be AAA grade, AA grade, AB grade and so on. The coffee grade would contribute to determining the roasting process of the coffee beans. The size and quality of the green coffee beans determine the grade.
This is something that a lot of us pay attention to and have specific preferences for. There are different levels of roasting for coffee – light roast, medium roast, medium dark roast, and dark roast. As the roasting goes towards the darker extreme, it loses its aroma attributes. Medium roast is generally the most popular roast, as it balances the nuances in the cup nicely. However, everyone has their own specific preferences. Thumb rule here is darker the roast, lesser the aroma notes and a gradual increase in the bitterness.
In order to brew the coffee, you need to grind it. The roasted coffee beans are generally ground according to the equipment that would be used for brewing the coffee, and would eventually contribute to the end result you get. If you’re going to use an espresso maker, you need a fine grind, if you are going to use a Turkish coffee preparation then you need an even finer grind than espresso. If you are going to use a coffee filter or a French press, then a medium coarse grind would work for you. If you are going to be making a cold brew or use the chhani method for making the hot brew, then the coarsest possible grind would work for you. Incorrect grounds could make your coffee loaded with powdery grounds or completely bereft of the flavor. So, choose wisely.
This is the last step before you finally get your cup of coffee. Using filtered water is extremely important, do not use unfiltered water. Soaking time and the temperature of brewing are also very important steps in the coffee brewing process. Each coffee has a specific temperature it must be brewed at so check on that when you prepare for brewing the coffee.
Once you understand what you like better, you will be able to try more varieties and learn so much more about coffee. Look for these parameters the next time you buy your coffee. India has some really amazing coffee roasters who source coffee from outstanding coffee estates – Kelagur, Riverdale, Harley, etc. and make amazing coffees out of them. Try them and tell me in the comments how you like your coffee.