Caught you didn’t I?
If this picture doesn’t mean anything to you, I think you should be relieved. This would be the saddest picture ever to a crazy coffee addict like me and others like myself. So if this picture doesn’t really affect you; you’re not that ‘crazy’ over coffee.
If not, and you wanna know if you’re getting addicted to coffee, these are the signs:
- You’ll get a headache if you miss a cup of coffee.
- You’re super grumpy before your fix.
- You can’t concentrate without your coffee.
- You can’t bear the thought of giving up coffee.
However, there is obviously good and bad coffee. Not all coffee is created equal. There is a whole list of factors that determine the quality of the coffee. Altitude, temperate, rainfall, sunlight and etc, affects how the coffee grows and how it tastes. So, as a coffee addict, you would want to know more to choose the perfect one for you. From one coffee addict to another, this guide is here to help you with how to feed your coffee addiction.
Taste & Aroma
To find a coffee you can truly enjoy, you’ll need to know about the properties of coffee’s taste and aroma. Keep in mind that different coffee has different characteristics. With the right knowledge of the taste & aroma, you’ll be able to determine your favourites.
This refers to sharpness or snappiness that you feel at the edges of your tongue. Low acidity coffees are called “mellow”, and, to avoid being flat or dull, all coffees need at least a little of acidity.
Unlike our taste buds that are only capable of tasting 4 flavours (sweet, sour, salty and bitter); our sense of smell is nearly limitless. For coffee, their aromas are smoky, flowery, fruit-like, earthy or any sort. This is rather similar to berries and nuts.
Some coffee type may feel physically heavier and denser in your mouth, though all are brewed with water. There are 3 types of bodied coffee, full-bodied, medium-bodied and light-bodied. Full-bodied coffee may feel like you’re having a whole dose of milk or cream in your mouth. Medium-bodied and light-bodied will feel more like skim milk or water respectively.
Skill and duration of roasting strongly affect the flavour of coffee. There are 4 types of roasts, Light, Medium, Medium-dark and Dark.
- Light roast: The surface of the coffee bean is light brown in colour and has no visible oil. Such coffee taste almost as close to wheat or grain, thus used for milder flavour.
- Medium roast: Surface of the coffee bean is medium brown and has no visible oil. Medium roasted beans are stronger in flavour when made into coffee.
- Medium-dark roast: Possess a slightly shiny appearance due to the coffee oils. Tend to taste richer and coffee will look darker with a bittersweet aftertaste.
- Dark roast: Dark roasted beans are black shiny beans. Mainly used for espresso, thus having some bitterness in taste but very little acid taste.
The balance of the combination of the above 4 points, acidity, aroma, body and roast. A well-balanced coffee bean would present a high level of balance between acidity and mellowness. At the same time, would include a satisfying and complex aroma and flavor. You can tell if a coffee bean is not well balanced if the taste is extreme in one aspect.
Finish: Similar term used in wine tasting, it refers to the taste and sensation left in your mouth after you swallow. Some may have a chocolate finish, others may have a fruity aftertaste.
Types of Coffee Beans
Types arise from the difference in size, shape, colour, and flavour, all are dependant on the region and condition where they were grown. In this section, we will introduce you the 2 main types of coffee beans currently in commercial circulation. Coffee Robusta and Coffee Arabica.
Known as Coffea Canephora. This coffee bean makes up about 20-25% of all the coffee produced across the world. The trademark of Robusta is that it is bitter, burnt and highly caffeinated taste. Robusta made coffee are cheaper than of Coffee Arabica. Due to the fact that Robusta acts as a natural insecticide and anti-microbial agent which improves the efficiency of farming and makes it cheaper to produce. Therefore Coffee Robusta is known to be stronger and cheaper too. It can be about a half to a third as cheap as Arabica.
Although it is cheap, high-quality Robusta can easily stand up to many Arabica coffees. A high-quality Robusta will have a smoky, charred taste which many people love. Earthy, smoky and burnt flavours, as well as a strong caffeine hit.
Accounts for over 75-80% of the world coffee production. Arabica coffee is considered to be more superior than Robusta coffee based on its delicate flavor and low acidity. Arabica coffee, as compared to Robusta coffee, taste far less bitter and it is smoother. At the same time, it’s coffee is softer, more aromatic and more flavorful. However, such superior coffee beans are harder to grow. It requires to be grown in the perfect condition as Arabica beans are far more sensitive than Robusta beans. Due to these few factors, the inconvenience in production, the production cost is more expensive thus the price.
Therefore if you happen to go to grab a pack of coffee and purchase it because it is labelled “100% Arabica”, don’t buy it. As it doesn’t necessarily indicate good coffee and often, it is just a marking cover up for the quality. Most of the time it is just a marketing ploy. This is due to the fact that there is bad 100% Arabica coffee and excellent Arabica coffee aren’t necessarily be 100% Arabica. Unless you purchase your coffee from reputable stores, such as an excellent local roasters or reputable coffee roaster online store, then you should doubt that whether if it is Arabica coffee. Reputable stores only sell Arabica coffee beans.
|Grows at:||High Altitude (600 – 2000m)||Low Altitude (200 – 800M)|
|Taste:||Mild, Aromatic & Flavorful||Harsh, Bitter & Highly Caffeinated|
|Used for:||High-quality coffee||Cheap coffee, Instant coffee & Espresso blends|
|Percentage of world production:||75-80%||20-25%|
As mentioned above, by now you should know that the taste of the coffee will change by region too.
The picture shows the 3 main regions for the coffee. You realised that there are 2 horizontal lines there, the 2 horizontal lines are called ‘The Coffee Belt’. Anything between the lines are the areas suitable for producing coffee. Outside of those lines, it is nearly impossible or unsuitable for producing coffee.
The 3 main regions: Latin America, Africa and Asia. Latin America coffee beans are known to be sweeter and have a balanced flavour. Africa coffee beans are known for their bright, fruity and floral notes. Lastly, coffee beans from Asia, are known for being earthy, spicy and woody tastes. What’s special is that each of this region has individual countries with very distinctive tastes of its own.
Do note that this is not a guide that aims to dictate what is great coffee, but to help you discover the best coffee for you. Think of it as a relationship. What you think of favourite coffee is exclusively between you and the coffee. No one should tell you how you should live your life with coffee or judge you on the choice of your coffee.