Deciding which coffee beans to buy for home brewing can be a daunting task, especially if this is your first time. There are so many brands, variables and opinions on those brands and variables that it can seldom feel like the coffee dream you wanted it to. Instead, it can feel like a coffee nightmare, full of wonderful smells and people shouting at you to buy this or that brand. Don’t worry, if you are struggling with which coffee to buy for your first home brewing experience, the Hej guide to good coffee beans can help. In this article, we are going to take you on a journey and help you select the best beans possible. Now, clearly there is a lot of personal taste that goes into buying beans, hence all the opinions, which takes us nicely on to step one.
Step 1: Learn what you love
Arabica and Robusta are the only two commercial coffee beans available, but that doesn’t mean that this is a simple step. Arabica is grown at high altitudes, it’s known for its slightly acidic, yet smooth taste. Robusta is grown lower down and has a slightly stronger and bitter taste. Now, unless you want to become a coffee connoisseur, don’t worry too much about the bean, focus on finding an ethical and local roaster/brand that makes a great bean and that looks after you.
How do I know what I like?
Taste is king when it comes to coffee and most people (myself included) want their first coffee of the day to be the best coffee of the day. This will come over time; it is a trial and error situation, so don’t worry too much about this in the beginning. When first looking for good coffee beans for home brewing, find out what your favourite cafe is using and get hold of some of their beans. We sell our own beans, as do many cafes, this will give you a good head start on making your morning coffee beautiful. From there, you can experiment and try new brands, this won’t always go your way, but it can lead you down some great paths.
Most people tend to think that darker roasts have more caffeine in them, however, the opposite is true. The darker the roast, the less caffeine content, the lighter the roast, the more get up and go. Espresso beans are normally a medium roast. With this knowledge in your brain, you can tailor your first coffee of the day and the last to suit exactly what you want at that moment, either a sharp kick of caffeine or some subtle flavours without such a harsh kick.
Step 2: Ground vs. Whole Bean
Now, this is where it gets tricky; taste is a very simple one to explain, find the taste that you like and start from there. Opening up this can of worms can lead to all sorts of arguments in the comments. Something no one can deny, however, is that the freshest tasting coffee is going to come from a bean that was ground moments before. So, for us, buying whole beans is the only way to go. If you would prefer to buy ground, make sure to get it as fresh as you can. Fresh, in the coffee world, means it hasn’t been on the shelf for longer than a week. This kind of puts most supermarkets out of the picture, but there are still plenty of places to get great ground coffee.
Now, the next issue in the ground vs. whole bean debate comes when we talk about taste and caffeine content, how do you know what is what when it’s ground? Sometimes you can rely on the appearance, but this can be hard to judge in some coffee grounds. But, there is another trick you can use. You can tell the difference between a light/dry ground and a dark/oily ground by the way that they behave. It can be very difficult to go by colour here, so instead, look at the way the grounds are behaving in the bag. If the grounds are sticking together and forming clumps when you tip bag, this is a sign that they are oily and dark. Lighter grounds won’t stick together; they run smoothly like sand down a hill. Obviously, you’ll have to buy the bag to use these ways of testing, but if you have a couple of bags of coffee grounds in your cupboard and need to know what they are, this is a great test to do.
If you are just starting out on this coffee brewing business at home and need a place to start, the best advice we can offer when buying beans or ground coffee is to buy the best-selling beans or grounds. This way you’ll be buying the coffee that is the freshest because it is replenished more often and so it will give you a better idea of what that coffee is all about. We also recommend trying local roasters to find your favourite flavours. Local roasters are passionate about coffee and so will have a variety to choose from, this means you can experiment and support a local business so it’s a double win.
Finally, if you love our coffee and want to try it at home you can. Hej roasts and sells our own coffee beans and ground coffee. It is fresh, delicious and available all around the world. If you’re as passionate about coffee as we are then our coffee could be the best place for you to start experimenting with home brewing. If you are in the Bermondsey area, pop in and buy a bag, we’ll happily help you make a decision as to which to buy and recommend you a bag based on your favourite flavours and tastes.
So, that’s the Hej guide to good coffee and where to start, we hope you found it helpful. Home coffee brewing is such a great hobby (it will turn into a hobby) and hopefully we have helped you make a start on your journey. Don’t forget to check out our article from last week where you can find a list of our favourite non-Hej coffee grounds to try at home.