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How I Choose Coffee Beans

Published on under the Coffee category.

Artisan Roast coffee beans and flavor notes card on a white table

The postie arrived about an hour ago and delivered my new coffee beans from Artisan Roast. I’ve already brewed up a cup. They are honey-processed which is what made me choose them over all the other beans on the market.

The number of different coffees out there is a double-edged sword for me. I like choice but it’s difficult to decide which beans I should order. I often find myself wondering whether I should order from the same roaster again because there are other roasters whose beans I am yet to try. I don’t want to limit my exposure to new coffees and, most importantly, new experiences.

I do not have a structured way of choosing beans. Every bean I’ve purchased has been on a whim. I choose beans based on which ones are the coolest. But, there are a few factors that go into my determining which coffees are “the coolest.”

Roaster Reputation

The reputation of a coffee roaster is weighed heavily when I order a new coffee. I take ordering new coffees seriously because I want to have a good experience every time. I don’t strive to choose beans I know I will like. I want to make sure that I avoid choosing beans I know I will not like. A big part of that is ordering from a roaster who has a good reputation for delivering quality beans.

I have ordered a decaf coffee from Steampunk. I ordered that coffee because I’ve participated in a cupping with Steampunk. They are all over my Instagram feed. They have a great reputation in the coffee community. I feel comfortable ordering from them because I have had a good experience with many of their beans and lots of other people have had similar experiences.

Location

With the exception of the supermarket beans I got when I first started brewing coffee at home, I’ve only ordered coffees from Scottish coffee roasters.

I order from Scottish roasters for a few reasons. First, I like my beans to be delivered quickly. I know that there is a higher chance of my beans being delivered in a timely manner if I order from a nearby town or city versus another country. I know that delivery times are quick anyway but international deliveries would probably take a few more days than a UK delivery.

Delivery times are not my only reason for ordering from Scottish roasters (although delivery times are important so I can get beans before I run out). I like the brands of so many Scottish coffee roasters. I’m not sure what it is but I feel a sort of loyalty toward supporting coffee roasters in Scotland. Maybe it is because Scotland is my home country. Or maybe it’s just that I find a lot of Scottish coffee roasters have particularly unique brands (i.e. Artisan Roast and Unorthodox Roasters).

Nevertheless, I presently only order beans from Scottish roasters.

Flavors

Alone, flavors do not drive my decision-making. I take into account the reputation of a roaster first. Flavors are important because I strive to try as many different types of coffee as I can. I know that my favorite coffees are those with caramel and forest fruit tastes but I seldom order coffees with these specific notes. I look for new flavors, ones similar to those that I have enjoyed in the past, or new flavor combinations.

The coffee I’m trying at the moment has tasting notes featuring treacle, citrus, and chocolate. I’ve never had a coffee that tastes like treacle. I’ve only had one cup of this coffee but I have really enjoyed it. I would not have known if I’d like treacle notes without trying a coffee with those notes.

I do have a preference for coffees with chocolate flavors. I like a nutty coffee but I find that some nutty coffees are a bit overpowering for me. But that would not stop me from trying out a coffee that looks really interesting.

New Experiences

I do not take into account every single part of a coffee label when I evaluate which ones to buy but I do read all of the documentation beforehand. I chose the coffee I am drinking now in part because of the flavor notes but also because it is a honey processed coffee. I’ve never had a honey processed coffee before and I wanted to try something new. I’ve read about honey processed coffees but that’s not the same as drinking one and thinking about its flavors.

There are two types of coffee drinkers. There are those who like consistency and who will order beans that they know they will like. I can see why people may think this way about coffee. Some people just want a good cup of coffee day-in and day-out. I read in the Blue Bottle coffee book I am reading that they use blends for their espressos because most people do not want to have a single origin that tastes like one thing one day and a completely different coffee the next.

I am in the second category of coffee drinkers, at least for the moment. This category is for people who actively seek out new beans and who want to try new flavors. I like researching which coffees to buy next. I’ve already got my eyes on a new coffee from Steampunk (in part because it is from Steampunk and also because I have a coupon code that I want to use). A blend from Artisan Roast presently sits in my browser bookmarks.

I get really excited when I order a new coffee. I feel great when my postie delivers a new coffee. Speciality coffee is full of these experiences for me. It’s not just about the coffee. I like the process of brewing and evaluating flavors.

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