If you’re wanting to improve your coffee, my recommendation is simple: buy coffee beans. But perhaps you’re not sure where or how to choose the best coffee beans or what types of coffee you can get?
Look no further: we’ll help you discover what kind of beans to buy, and you’ll learn about the grind, the roast, and much more… So let’s get to it!
Anyone who enjoys a good cup of coffee would agree that, if you want to buy whole beans, the best coffee is as freshly roasted as possible and freshly ground. Nothing else beats that 1-2 combination.
Coffee: 101 Varieties
Do you even know what is in your cupboard right now? Is it instant? Is it bags? There are many types of coffee, brands of coffee, and related products on the market and in the supermarket shelves. And supermarkets don’t really encourage you to try something new, do they?
On one recent trip to a local convenience store, I was able to count nearly 100 brands, types, and formats, ranging from instant sachets to iced coffee in jars. And that was just a convenience store.
However, having as many choices as you do, you need to know what makes the best kind of coffee for you, for your budget and for your situation.
It’s the beans, Joe! Just buy the coffee beans!
Image: Blue Mountain Jamaican Beans spilling out from a small cup
For the longest time, I was buying pre-ground thinking that was the best I could buy. In those days, it was difficult to buy coffee beans in the stores. Not even the larger supermarkets and whole food stores carried much, if anything. Certainly nothing worth drinking.
Now, you can buy coffee beans available everywhere, pre-ground just doesn’t compare to whole beans ground to order.
Even grinding them on the spot can increase your own satisfaction! Guaranteed. Of course, you have to have some basic (obvious) skills to help you identify the best beans! But it’s not hard.
In fact, it’s a lot of fun!
Tip: Why not read my Coffee Guide to get you started, it’s a one-page (printable, too, in PDF) cheatsheet for buying coffee, taking you through the process of how to buy good beans.
What kind of coffee beans?
Now that you know how important freshness is, you should decide what types of beans you want to look for. What types of beans do you prefer? Are you a fan of strong, dark roasts that would wake the dead or do you prefer a light, fruity brew?
It will help a lot if you know about the different countries and regions that coffee is grown in and what types of flavors those areas produce.
Examples to consider:
- if you like a bright flavors with a fruity undertone, you will probably want to buy coffee beans from Kenya Coffee.
- If you prefer a bold, earthy brew you’ll like the beans from Indonesia.
- Brazil Coffee Beans have a smooth, nutty flavor with slight floral undertones.
- Colombian coffee produces a cup of rich, full-tasting brew that is clean and bright.
- Right now, I’m enjoying Indian Malabar Coffee.
More Reading: If you want to read a good one page summary, why not check out WiseGeek’s article on different types of whole beans, and come right back!
What roast did you say?
Grocery School helps you choose the best beans, presented by Sarah East from FoodVu.com.
If you like French or Italian Roasts, you like dark roasts. There is nothing wrong with this type of roast but since the beans are subjected to higher temperatures, much of the individual flavors and undertones are burnt away.
You could actually be buying an inferior bean that has been dark roasted to disguise its shortcomings! Of course, you may just prefer to drink pure espresso made only from the best espresso beans, by definition, these are roasted dark!
There are some superb dark roasts that may appeal to those who buy whole coffee beans; but for the most part, this type of roast is like burning a fine filet mignon — you get a piece of meat but all the remarkable attributes have been destroyed.
You might want to try a medium-dark roast, or even just a medium roast instead, and see if you enjoy all the different flavors and undertones you can taste when the bean has been caressed by the heat instead of scorched by it. Do check out the different kinds of roasted beans (for more information about roasting levels) you can buy before settling on the cheapest or most easily available.
Also, if you’re sensitive to high levels of caffeine content, you may consider buying a decaffeinated roast to reduce the amount of caffeine. There are many quality decaffeinated whole beans available if you absolutely must buy coffee beans!
It’s Time to go Shopping: Three Things Remember
Once you’ve decided what beans and roasts you’re interested in, it’s time to do a little shopping for the essentials:
i. The Beans: There are many places to buy coffee beans from, from stores that sell bulk coffee (at good prices) to the gourmet coffee club that sells and ships to you premium coffee roasts on a monthly or multi-monthly plan (ideal if you want great coffee regularly shipped). There are even places to buy coffee online.
If you go to the supermarket to buy coffee beans, check the beans carefully for freshness, date, and condition before you buy! Remember, just like fresh fruit, good beans look and smell appetizing! Once roasted, they don’t keep that long!
ii. The Coffee Maker: What are the best makers? That’s hard to say because there are so many different types. Personally, I prefer simpler methods with less machinery because reliability is important to me, as well as simplicity. But you can take a look at some of the other ways to make coffee here.
iii. Essential Supplies: Also, if you are shopping for supplies, you’ll need a few other important coffee making supplies, including milk, creamer (typically coffee mate), spoons and cups or mugs, sugar or low calorie sweetener, and so on. You may even like to add flavorings (syrups, powders or roasted flavors) to your cuppa!
… and save the pennies!
Of course, you needn’t spend a lot of money on coffee shopping, many companies offer discounts and coupons on their products if you have the patience to collect and wait! You should be able to get deals on beans, and even coffee makers.
One thing you should plan on: buying adequate and protective coffee bean storage jars and equipment to keep your coffee in best condition! You will really need these.
Purely Coffee Beans -Freshly Roasted!
Anyone who enjoys a good cup of coffee would agree that, if you want to buy coffee beans, the best coffee is made from freshly roasted and freshly ground whole beans.
While the list isn’t extensive, and you only need to purchase most items once out of necessity, I do suggest that you make sure that you have the best coffee beans and basic equipment to hand. The enjoyment of your cup of coffee will be worth it. I promise.