So you want to buy delicious roasted coffee to drink at home – but purchasing coffee can be tricky, especially with so much information on the label. When you’ve got a washed medium-roast Maragogype from Nicaragua in one hand and a pulped natural Full City Caturra-Catuaí from Brazil in the other, you can start to wonder: what even is the difference between these coffees?
And, perhaps more importantly, how are you supposed to know which one you’ll like?
Never fear, because we’re about to help you out with our comprehensive guide to roasted coffee bag labels. From varieties to processing methods and blends to roast levels, we’ve covered it all. Read on to discover how to buy the best coffee for your preferences.
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Production day at Populace Coffee in Bay City, Michigan, US. Credit: Populace Coffee
Blend vs Single Origin
A “single origin” coffee comes from a specific region or farm (sometimes called a “single estate” coffee), while a blend is a mixture of multiple coffees. You’ll also get “micro lots”, which come from small sections on a particular farm.
But why separate coffee in this way? Because each coffee is the result of where and how it was grown. As we’re about to see, the country and region, the farming and processing methods, the coffee plant variety, and more all affect the flavour and aroma of the drink.
Single origins tend to be high-quality coffees with unique flavours and aromas – the kind that roasters don’t want to obscure by mixing with other beans.
A blend, on the other hand, happens when a roaster thinks that two coffees combined taste even better than those two coffees consumed separately. Perhaps they have a light, fruity Ethiopian but think it needs a hint of body to complete it. (Espresso-based coffees are often, but not always, blends as well.)
While single origins are normally more respected by specialty coffee lovers (and more expensive), both types of coffee can be excellent. Try them out; don’t just reject one because it blends beans from three countries.
At the same time, dive into the world of single origins by trying coffee from a variety of regions. Try a Guatemalan, known for its acidity, balance, and spiced notes; then, compare it to a Rwandan coffee, which tends to be sweet and well-bodied. Next, sample two different Colombian regions – say, Nariño and Santander. Get to know the coffee origins and profiles that you love.
But remember, just because a country tends to have a particular coffee profile doesn’t mean that all its coffees will conform to that. Be open-minded.
Enjoyed this? You might also like: How to Brew Better Coffee at Home
Written by Tanya Newton.
Perfect Daily Grind
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