Coffee is life for many of us, but do you know what you're drinking? Or what you SHOULD be drinking? Or how to take your coffee drinking to the next flavor level? Let's face it, most of us are amateurs. So we thought we'd offer some tips - and tricks - of the coffee trade from the pros - specifically Kim Rodgers with Warbler Coffee Roasting.
Coffee is a Fruit
It may surprise you to learn Coffee is a fruit, which means it’s seasonal. It peaks and is harvested at different times, depending on the region and environmental factors. If you want to drink the best coffee, you should change your coffee selection regularly.
Once farmers harvest the beans, they have to process them at origin and then export them, which can take anywhere from several weeks to months! Green coffee has about a one-year shelf life when stored properly, so the goal is always to drink “current crop.” Rather than trying to memorize the coffee seasons, it’s easiest to put your faith in a specialty coffee roaster (the ones who roast your coffee on demand when ordered online or have a roast date on the bag when sold in the store).
Commodity vs Specialty
Commodity coffee is coffee that is mass-produced, typically by large national brands. It’s not feasible or profitable for these companies to change the location of their coffee farms according to season; therefore, to ensure consistency, commodity coffee is often a blend of several different types of beans and is roasted pretty dark (meaning, you don’t get to taste the origin).
Coffee is a lot like wine – naturally occurring “flavors” arise depending on where it’s grown, at what altitude, soil condition, etc. With specialty coffee (also known as the third wave or craft coffee), roasters and cafes focus on the seasonality of coffee. They select single origin beans and regularly rotate their country of origin so they can offer the best beans possible. Then, they roast the beans on the lighter side to let the bean’s natural flavor come through.
Pro tip: ditch the chain and find a local specialty shop where you can start your coffee tasting education. Tell them you are new to specialty coffee, and that you want to learn. You’ll be surprised by how much they’ll teach you. That’s how we got started!
Preparation and Serving
Purchasing whole bean coffee and grinding it yourself instead of buying a bag of ground coffee is the most important thing you can do to elevate your coffee experience. Once the coffee is roasted, you’re racing the clock. In fact, roasted whole bean coffee is considered “fresh” for just 15 days! (The average coffee drinker likely won’t taste any difference until about 30 days.) Commodity coffees you buy at the grocery store were likely roasted weeks ago, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a roast date on any of the packaging.
Once your coffee is ground, it remains fresh for just 15 MINUTES! After that, it quickly begins losing flavor. Now, is it drinkable after that time? Absolutely. But we encourage you to try abiding by this timeline and see what happens to the taste and experience.