When looking into new coffees for your coffee or espresso maker, the number of types of coffee beans can be overwhelming sometimes. Just how do you decide which beans are best for you? We recommend trying different types to figure out what your specific tastes are, but here's some things to consider.
Arabica vs. Robusta Coffee Beans
The two dominant forms of coffee trees/beans are classified as Arabica and Robusta, with the majority of the North America using Arabica beans. Arabica is typically considered a higher quality coffee and while some companies feature it as a selling point, most of the market in the U.S. and Canada will serve it. Robusta beans are less expensive than Arabica due to the quality and about 70% of the world's supply is grown in Vietnam and sold to the Asian market. While generally not considered a good coffee, they can contain very unique flavours and have more caffeine than Arabica coffees. Nespresso carries a number of coffee blends that use Robusta beans very effectively.
We carry exclusively Arabica coffee beans.
Origins of Coffee Beans
There are hundreds of coffee growing countries around the world in the "coffee growing regions" - around the equator. Climate, soil conditions and farming practices vary by country and have a huge impact on the quality and flavour of the coffee. Each specific country or sub-region can be considered a unique "origin" of the coffee, references to "single origin" coffees refer to coffees that contain beans from a single country or farm. Coffees from a specific region will share similar characteristics, both positive and negative. On the other side of the spectrum, blends can be created by expert coffee roasters that compliment each others' flavour and hide specific characteristics that people may not like.
While coffees are "graded" based on specific qualities by coffee connoisseurs, these guidelines don't always mean that you'll enjoy a specific variety of coffee. Combined with the amount of variation in beans from a specific region (and even variation year-to-year from a specific farm), you're not always guaranteed to enjoy, even if it has a good reputation. For this reason, we recommend trying a variety of coffee beans from a coffee roaster (like us!) to determine what type of coffee you enjoy.
Your grind (or whole bean) will typically be dictated by the coffee or espresso machine you're using. We recommend purchasing coffee as whole bean to preserve freshness, which means your coffee machine should grind the beans for you before brewing. Auto or semi-automatic espersso machines typically come with a built-in grinder for espresso beans, or you can pick up a good grinder for regular coffee machines for about $100.
Type of Coffee Maker
You options for coffee beans will sometimes be limited by your specific coffee maker. While coffee machines like those from Keurig, Nespresso, Tassimo and Starbucks are convenient, they lock you into a specific format and supplier. You become reliant on what the company thinks will sell well, which doesn't always provide the most variety of coffee.
Products like true drip coffee makers, espresso machines and stove-top espresso machines allow you to use any kind of coffee bean in your machine, opening up thousands of potential possibilities. Whether you find a single origin (country) that you prefer or a blend from a high end coffee roasting company, there's nearly limitless options to choose from. Not only that, but drip coffee machines and espresso makers that use regular coffee beans save money in the long run. By not being locked into a pod or cup format, you can buy regular whole bean or ground coffee which can be anywhere from 10%-50% less expensive than the proprietary pod format.