How to Choose Coffee

When shopping for coffee, there are many factors to consider. Do you buy it roasted, or roast and grind it yourself? If you buy it ground, how do you know how long ago it was ground? And what should you consider as far as types of beans, where they came from, and how they were grown?


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    Consider how the beans are roasted. How the beans were roasted is very important. French roast is pretty strong, Italian roast even stronger. As a rule of thumb, the darker the bean the stronger the coffee.
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    Splurge a little and buy yourself a bag or can of lily or Segafredo coffee. These are two very popular Italian brands and most serious coffee lovers will adore the taste. You may also choose other high quality gourmet brands like Gevalia or even Starbucks.
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    Try organic coffee. Some coffee brands use a lot of chemicals during the growing and roasting process which affects the taste and could possibly affect how your body reacts to the beans. Organic coffee steers clear of the bad stuff. Not all chemicals are toxic or bad, though, and the lack of standards in organic farming can prevent you from making an educated, informed decision. Be sure to do your own careful and thorough research.
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    Do not be afraid to buy espresso roast or espresso grinds for brewed coffee. Lavazza and Medaglia D'Oro, or El Pico, are all good espressos that you can brew as a full pot of coffee. Just use a little less and tamp it down after filling the filter basket.
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    Try to avoid buying coffee from grocery stores as even higher end coffee may sit on the shelf for months at a time and even air sealing will not prevent the flavor of the coffee from deteriorating. Buy from coffee shops and local roasters where there is a little more certainty about the age of the coffee.
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    Consider buying Fair Trade or Direct Trade coffee. Fair Trade certification ensures a minimum price per pound for coffee growers; however, this amount may not reflect changing economic conditions that increase the cost of coffee production. Direct Trade practices---although not monitored by a third-party trade organization---establish a direct exchange between roasters and growers. Roasters engage in face-to-face discussion with growers and see their product first-hand, encouraging higher-quality coffee, better labor standards and higher wages to sustain the grower-roaster relationship.
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    Try using shade grown coffee. If a coffee is shade grown, it means they didn't have to clear-cut land in order to maximize the number of coffee plants they could grow. Instead, they choose a more environmentally sound way to grow the plants. Often shade grown coffee is also organic.


  • Always purchase whole bean coffee: flavor begins to deteriorate as soon as the bean is ground.
  • Cheaper coffee brands often mix types of beans which usually does not yield consistent taste.
  • True coffee lovers often prefer Arabica beans so try to purchase a brand that only uses those. The label will tell you if it's "all Arabica beans" or a "blend". Keep in mind that not all Arabicas are high quality either.


  • Contrary to popular belief, you should not store beans in the freezer. It damages the flavor of the coffee and causes condensation on the beans when they are removed from the freezer, exposing them to moisture. Store coffee in an airtight glass container at room temperature away from direct sunlight. Storage in the freezer should only be done for extended storage if no readily available source of good coffee exists nearby. Divide coffee into one week portions and remove from the freezer the day before you plan to use.|

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Categories: Coffee