It seems that everywhere you look a new coffee store or coffeehouse appears in the marketplace. New roasters claim Gourmet Beans in every supermarket. How can you tell which have the best flavor and taste for the money?

It's been our experience that a consumer often cannot trust the advertisements, package descriptions, or even the labeling used within our industry. What will really help is a few basic facts and educating your palette. The truth is in the tasting! And with a little attention you'd be surprised what your palette knows without much help.


Be sure you have the right specie - 100% Colombian only tells you the country of origin. Most countries can grow two or three species: i.e. Liberica, Robusta, Arabica. -But only the Arabicas can give you a true gourmet coffee taste. Be sure your coffee is solely ARABICA SPECIES. They have the most flavor.

Coffee is imported by Grade. -AA is the highest; then A,B,C, and D in descending order. Always be sure you buy AA and A grade only.

There are only a finite amount of great coffees being grown around the world. Every roaster can't have the finest beans available. Only those roasters who buy direct from ports of origin after cupping samples sent by numerous growers can import the most desirable coffee.

How is the coffee roasted? Often roasters will over roast beans so that less flavorful coffees seem stronger and tastier. A good roaster knows that some coffees need less roasting for the true varietal flavors to come out. Be sure your roaster varies the roasting time to give some varieties a medium, chestnut appearance (High City Roast) while others are roasted longer to bring out the oils of the bean closer to the surface (Dark Roast).


While a complete discussion of the palette is beyond the scope of this article, here's a way to describe what the different coffees taste like. Keep in mind this is a simplified way of tasting different varieties and blends. Think of coffees as on a taste scale from sweet to acidic, with neutral in between.


This means that when you smell and taste any coffee, your palette will identify one or more of the above tastes. (Try preparing the coffee the way you like; you can even put a little milk or cream in if that's how you normally drink it- just leave out sugar or sweetener when doing taste comparisons). Make sure your coffee is just a little cooler then usual when tasting.



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