Picking beans up at your local supermarket doesn't seem like it should be all that difficult, right? Nowadays you don't even have to go to the supermarket! Just sign up for a coffee subscription service and have them delivered. But, in case you're someone who still enjoys a nice trip to the supermarket, we're here to give you the tips you'll need to make sure you're choosing good, fresh beans.
After all, there are plenty of brands and choices to choose from these days. Then you get to the coffee aisle and actually start reading the packaging. Local roaster, big brand, light roast, dark roast, single origin, etc. All of a sudden going to the store to pick up a bag of coffee just became something much more and now the pressure is on (not really, but you know what I mean). So how do you choose the beans that are right for you?
To answer this, lets go over the most important factors in picking out a quality coffee bean.
I recommend never purchasing pre-ground coffee. Always go for whole bean. Of course if you don't have a grinder at home, whole bean isn't exactly an option. The reason for this is you want to have your beans ground just before actually making the cup of coffee. This is vital to a great cup of coffee.
If you must buy ground coffee, have it ground right there in the store.
Folgers. It might as well say "Cheap Dirt You Shouldn't Put In Your Body" on that massive plastic tub. Plain and simple - it's crap. Don't buy it people. Anything in a tub is not properly sealed which leads to beans that aren't fresh. This goes for Starbucks beans too. The only thing worse than the price SBUX charges is the quality of their beans. They're burnt. When your beans are burnt, you're going to get a burnt cup of coffee. But hey, you do get those cute stars with every purchase, right? Wrong. If you have a nice, quality home espresso machine, invest in quality coffee beans. Otherwise, what was the point of spending all that money?
Buying directly from a roaster is fantastic. They actually care about the quality of their beans. Not only that but they're usually incredibly knowledgable and know what they're talking about. They'll be full recommendations and ideas for you to help make your coffee experiences that much more enjoyable with your espresso machine!
The coffee is most likely much fresher, too. Which is nice.
This is something I'm sure 99% of coffee consumers fail to do. People these days are lazy and always in a hurry so they skip this step. I can tell you the roast date is of vital importance.
Buy coffee that has been brewed recently. Take the bag that is closest to the roast date.
Beans from a roaster have usually been brewed within the past week - these are ideal.
Grocery store beans are usually around 1 to 2 months. - Not as good but no terrible either.
Buying fresh beans will make your mazzer grinder very, very happy!
Coffee beans have 2 main species - Arabica and Robusta. Arabica beans are usually of much higher quality. When possible, always opt for arabica beans. Supermarket blends will typically be robusta beans so again, look for local roaster beans!
There are more coffee bean options we could go over but I don't want to confuse you. What I listed about, especially the bit about Folgers, should help you choose a higher quality bean on your next outing to the supermarket, or hopefully your local roaster after reading this blog post.
Once you find your perfect bean you'll need to make sure you're storing them properly. Beans are not meant to be stockpiled. They're meant to be consumed. The longer they go without being used, the worse they'll taste.
Keep your coffee beans in an airtight compartment. Make sure it is sealed tightly. This will ensure optimal freshness. Yes, you can keep them in the bag as long as you ensure the bag is properly sealed. And tightly!
Taking all the information listed above, this is all a question of personal preference and taste. We recommend trying all different types of beans - single origin, blends, arabica, robusta, etc. Try them all! There's no solid way to answer this question (although we get it alot!) but rather point you in the right direction by giving you all the information you're going to need when shopping for espresso beans.
Freshness - Roast Date
When making espresso, your beans need to be as fresh as possible. Don't buy anything that was roasted over a month ago - check those roast dates!
Once your find your bean - keep them fresh! When making espresso you want to grind your beans directly before extraction your shots. This obviously means never buy pre-ground coffee if you plan on making espresso. What you'll end up with is horrible tasting hot coffee water - yuck!
There are many factors that go into making quality espresso. One of the most vital is your grind. For espresso, you're looking for a very fine grind thats almost sand like. Be sure you're investing in a quality grinder to go along with your machine. Otherwise, you'll never get off the ground with that expensive espresso machine you just bought!