This is a collaborative post.
As it looks like none of us are leaving our homes just yet, it’s time to get familiar with the best way to source your favourite coffee beans online. Rather than heading to the same old online superstores, or including them in your supermarket delivery, this is an opportunity to try something new and take your home-brewed coffee to the next level.
What’s your flavour?
The first thing to do is work out if you have a favourite level of roast, or origin of the bean. Coffee beans from different regions of the world take on different flavour profiles, and so it can be helpful to think about what you’ve particularly enjoyed in the past and where it might be found now. Online stores have coffee beans listed alongside tasting notes and flavour descriptions, so this can be a great way to see if anything rings a bell!
Coffee beans from Brazil taste gently aromatic, with notes of chocolate and nuts. Coffee beans from Ecuador taste more perfumed, with a light floral character. Kenyan coffees, on the other hand, have such complex flavours that it may be off-putting for a novice coffee drinker, or those finally switching from instant to coffee and buying a coffee grinder.
Staying home in the first few months of 2021 will give us all the chance to try several different coffee beans from lots of different countries, to see which works best for our own tastes. There are few silver linings in this new year, but one of them must be taking the chance to try new things from the comfort of our own homes.
It’s all in the machine
The next thing to consider is what type of coffee brewing equipment you have in your home. If you’re using a cafetiere or French press you’ll need a coarser grind than if you’re using a top-of-the-line espresso machine. While it’s up to you to grind the coffee beans to the desired consistency, most beans are best at a particular level.
Some beans are best for coarse grind brews. This will often be noted on the coffee producer’s labels. Carrington’s Colombian coffee beans are ideal for French presses as they release a soft, velvety drink when ground fairly coarse. Caprissimo’s espresso beans, on the other hand, are heavy and dark in flavour, so are best ground to a very fine powder for use in espresso machines. These are fantastic for a shot of something to wake you up, or else as a base for a milky latte, when the strength won’t get lost in the sweet froth.
Not all coffees are created equal
If you are into coffee – and if you’re reading this, that’s a safe bet – you’ll know about roasting dates and storage, but it’s worth mentioning this again. Where you buy your coffee from is important because not all providers are storing coffee beans properly. There’s a reason you never find the best coffee beans at the supermarket: the coffee is stored on a shelf alongside sugar and long-life milk, and shipped in bulk.
Buying from a small-batch producer, or a specialty coffee shop online, means you can be assured of obtaining the coffee beans at the optimum time after roasting. For French press blends it’s best to wait up to three days after roasting, while for espresso-bound coffee beans it can be as long as a week.
When your beans arrive, it’s best to keep them in their original packaging as long as it’s vacuum packed with a one-directional valve, or move them into something better if they arrive in a thin paper bag. Store coffee beans in a dark, cool environment – not in the fridge! – and use within the week.
Just-in-time coffee beans
For this reason, it’s best to order beans as and when you need them, rather than stocking up a month’s supply all at once. It’s a good idea to find your favourite online shop and set up an account with them, for ease of re-ordering. Once you’ve determined which specialty online store holds the coffee beans you like, stores them correctly and according to roast date, and dispatches swiftly, you’re onto a winner.
There are various online subscription services, but why would you let someone else have all the fun of choosing your next drink? Part of the joy of being at home is being in total control of what goes into your body, and selecting your favourite beans at the best roast-level, grinding them yourself and brewing up your own best cup of joe is a luxury that we must enjoy while we can.
Find a coffee provider you love and stick to it. Another benefit of this is that you’ll be supporting not just one, but a couple of small businesses and fair-trade coffee producers during an era of economic turmoil. A fact that may make your coffee taste even better.
It’s not all doom and gloom in 2021. There are bright spots in the dark, and one of these is undoubtedly having the chance to try different coffee beans and discover for yourself what you like best.
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