Understand Your Coffee Label
Understand Your Coffee Label
So, you want to brew the best-tasting coffee at home but are confused by all the information on your coffee bag label? Like most specialty coffee roasters, we provide a lot of information on our bags – but what does all this mean? Does the roast level matter? Or processing??? Fortunately, we are here to guide you so you can understand more about your coffee and help make the best-tasting coffee at home.
1 - Single Origin or Blend
Single-Origin coffee is simply coffee from a specific country, while a blend is a mixture of multiple coffees, typically from various countries.
2 - Region
For single-origin coffees, following the country of origin is regional information that describes the farm/estate name, farming cooperative, or geographic region where the coffee was produced. Coffee is an agricultural product with unique flavors due to differences in climates, soil/mineral content, and growing conditions. Origin & regional information helps you understand where that coffee originates, so you can start tasting the differences between growing areas.
3 - Process:
Processing is the method of coffee in which the coffee gets from ripe coffee cherries to the dry, green coffee seed we roast. Other than origin, the next most significant piece of label information to understand is its processing. Processing methods have a tremendous impact on the flavor of the coffee. The main three processing methods are washed, natural, and honey.
- Washed – the coffee cherry flesh is removed by water, and the beans are then dried. Washed coffees tend to be cleaner, crisper-tasting coffees.
- Natural – the coffee is dried in the sun while still in full cherry format. This method imports sugars into the seed and tends to be sweeter, fruity-tasting coffees.
- Honey – this is a process somewhat between washed/natural. The coffee is dried with varying amounts of the cherry remaining while drying. Like washed coffees, the flavor tends to fall in the middle with mild sweetness but cleaner.
4 - Species & Variety:
Most of the coffee you see available in the United States is from one of two species of Coffee – Arabica or Robusta. Arabica coffee is considered the better quality and consists of most coffee we roast at Encore Coffee. The species is further broken down into varietals, such as Caturra, Catuaí, Bourbon, Typica, Geisha/Gesha, and Pacamara. It sounds complicated – but it isn’t. Let’s compare it to fruit; let’s use apples. The species is Apple (vs. Orange, Bananas, etc.), and the variety is Golden Delicious (vs. Fuji, Jonathan, etc.). While they are all apples, they have slightly different tastes between species; the same is true with coffee. Bourbon tends to be sweet; Geisha/Gesha tends to be light and tea-like; Caturra is bright and acidic.
5 - Elevation
In general, the higher up the mountain the coffee is grown, the higher the quality of the coffee. Coffee grown in higher altitudes contains higher sugar and acid concentrations, resulting in a sweeter, more complex cup. Most elevations are listed in meters; however, we have converted this to feet above sea level on our bags.
6 - Roast Level
Roast level is simply the degree to which the coffee beans have been roasted. Unfortunately, everyone seems to have a different definition of each roast level, which makes it difficult for the consumer. Most of the coffee we sell is medium-roasted. A medium roast coffee will be dark brown with no oil present. We find most coffees taste the best at this roast level.
7 - Roast Date
The roast date is when your coffee has been roasted and packaged. We recommend the coffee be stored in an airtight container, away from light. We recommend using the coffee within 4-6 weeks of roasting.
Hopefully, this quick guide helps you better understand the information on your coffee bag. If you have questions please email us!