How To Choose Good Coffee

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very good question. There is a sea of coffee on the shelves so how do we choose? 

We would say every time - your first considerations should be the quality of the beans, how fresh they are and how recently they were roasted. Having said that, how on earth would you know?!

And here's a heads-up...Big brand and supermarket coffees almost never have a roasting date...Read on...

Consider these; the old saying goes "You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear" other will never make delicious coffee out of crap beans - no matter how hard you try. 

Also, most people you speak to will probably recommend Arabica beans over Robusta, which is probably correct for most people because Robusta can have some fairly 'unusual' flavours. But it's not always the case!

Being certified Fairtrade and/or organic, or vegan (all coffee beans are) or vegetarian (all coffee beans are) or any one of the number of labels, badges' logos and stickers companies stamp on their packaging doesn't necessarily tell you anything about quality - companies add this stuff to convince you they're great!

A friend recently showed me the bag of Coffee Direct beans her friend had bought from an upmarket supermarket chain, thinking the big collection of labels, logos and certifications must mean good coffee. In fact the coffee was almost tasteless. Presumably (assuming the coffee beans were any good in the first place) it had been sitting either in a warehouse or on the supermarket shelf for so long it had simply lost everything. There was no roast date on the bag so who knows!

That same upmarket supermarket chain sells its own range of coffee. Apparently they own their own roastery and there's a roasted date on every bag. A bag of my favourite Monsoon Malabar, roasted a couple of weeks prior, was really poor and really lacking the gorgeous flavours this coffee typically has. Was the roasting date wrong? Were the beans poor quality to begin with? Perhaps they'd been stored, unroasted (green) for far too long - or stored incorrectly?

Remember, too, that fancy packaging doesn't necessarily mean the beans inside are in a fancy pack!

Freshness...most of the time you can't tell so you just have to have faith that the green (unroasted) beans have been stored properly and not for too long. After that, only buy coffee that has a roasted date on the label. As mentioned above, it's not an absolute guarantee of greatness but it's a good start. Almost all big brand coffee has no roasting date because they know you'll be put off buying if you notice the beans were roasted a year or two ago!

Every bean from BlindMan Coffee is roasted to order so when you receive them they will have been roasted a day or two before - it doesn't get any better than that!

Flavour...Then consider what kind of coffee flavours are your favourite and search for beans that are a close fit. If you enjoy nutty, chocolatey, mild flavours then South American and Central American coffees such as Brazil Santos, Guatemala or Nicaragua might fit the bill.

If you think big strong bold flavours you're are your thing, try Monsoon Malabar or Sumatra Lintong.  

Keep these things in mind too...fancy branding and/or packaging is nice but isn't an indicator of coffee quality. Buying from a place that roasts their own doesn't always mean they're good roasters. Coffee roasting is a real skill.