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Understand Your Coffee Label

So, you want to brew the best tasting coffee at home but 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 stuff mean? Does the roast level matter? or processing??? Fortunately, we are here to guide you so you can understand more about your coffee and to help make the best tasting coffee at home. 

1 - Single Origin or Blend

Single-Origin coffee is simply a coffee that comes from a specific country, while a blend is a mixture of multiple coffees; typically, from a variety of countries. 

2 - Region

For single-origin coffees, following the country of origin is regional information which describes the farm/estate name, farming cooperative, or geographic region of where the coffee was produced. Coffee is an agricultural product and will have unique flavors due to differences in climates, soil/mineral content, and growing conditions. Origin & regional information simply helps you understand where that coffee originates, so you can start tasting the differences between growing areas.

3 - Process:

Processing is the method 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 tend 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. The flavor tends to fall in the middle with mild sweetness but cleaner like washed coffees.

4 - Species & Variety:

Most of the coffee you see available in the United States is from one of two species of Coffea – Arabica or Robusta. Arabica coffee is considered the better quality of the two and consists of the majority of coffee we roast at Encore Coffee. The species is further broken down into varietals, such as Caturra, Catuaí, Bourbon, Typica, Geisha/Gesha, 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 a slightly different taste 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 altitude contain higher concentrates of sugars and acids, 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 the day that your coffee has been roasted and packaged. We recommend the coffee to 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!  


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