Where does Vietnam’s coffee grow? What is the best Vietnamese coffee?

Most people, as PurelyCoffeeBeans knows, would never think of Vietnam’s coffee as a premium coffee. But she has been producing it since it was introduced by missionaries from France in the mid 1800s.

Vietnam's coffee
Views over the mountains of Vietnam

Photo by Eila Lifflander on Unsplash

In fact, Vietnam is one of the largest exporters of coffee in the world coffee markets. Turn over your next bag of Asian or regional blend, you’ll find that they are likely included in the list of countries, since most coffee is really a blend of different types of coffee beans!

What will I learn about Vietnam’s coffee?

What different types of Vietnam’s coffee can you buy?

Why is Vietnamese coffee so special?

How do you make Vietnamese style coffee?

A  lot of the Vietnamese coffee beans you see will include Robusta coffee beans, so it pops up a lot in blends across the world, whether instant, ground or whole coffee beans.

Is it safe to buy Vietnam’s coffee?

Vietnam has ideal conditions for growing coffee thanks to its many micro-climates. For instance, coffee grown on the north slope of a mountain is quite different from that grown on the same mountain but on the southern slope.

Selection of Vietnam's coffee in photos
Selection of Vietnam’s coffee in photos

In Vietnam, coffee plants are cultivated up to an altitude of 3600 feet and not just one species of bean. In fact, Vietnamese coffee usually contains more than one kind of coffee bean, such as Arabica and Robusta beans which are typically mixed together to make a delicious blend.

What is the secret of Vietnam’s Coffee?

The secret to the wonderful flavor of Vietnamese coffees is undoubtedly the coffee roasting method. Beans are roasted slowly at lower than standard temperatures so that the beans do not burn.

Roasting slowly in that way causes the beans to have a dark color similar to dark roasted beans but with one big difference—while dark roasting can burn away the oils that give coffee its flavor, slow roasting seals in the flavor, creating a much stronger aroma in the bean, and a much fuller flavor.

Trung Nguyen – Premium Blend of Robusta and Arabica Premium

6Check this very popular product on Amazon

Also, you will find that some spices are occasionally added to Vietnamese Coffee, esp. chicory and essence of hazlenut, at least in the coffee we have in the cupboard!

The people of Vietnam take their coffee seriously; they even have their own unique kind coffee maker. A Vietnamese coffee phin when it has been fully assembled looks a bit like a traditional top hat upside down. It is placed over the cup or mug you’ll be drinking from and the coffee is spooned into the phin. Water that is close to boiling is then poured in and the brew drips into the waiting cup or mug.

How do you make Cafe Sua Da? The famous Vietnamese Sweet Coffee

The Vietnamese like their coffee with a real kick to it. You’ll find it similar to their food, cooked with a strong distinctive flavor. In the cup, you’ll notice how black and thick it is compared to a coffee latte.

Since the country has such a warm climate, coffee is often poured over ice cubes and mixed with sweetened condensed milk added. This is called Cafe Sua Da and is quite popular in coffee shops throughout the country.

You may wish to read more about how to make this kind of coffee at our Making Vietnamese Style Coffee page.

What is Boba Coffee?

The Boba drink is also a favorite, sometimes referred to as bubble tea in other countries, but Boba is made from fresh coffee, with the usual condensed milk poured in, and balls of tapioca that resemble pearls; the drink is poured over ice and shaken cocktail-style before being strained into a glass and drunk through a thick straw.

Where is Kopi Luwak or civet coffee from?

Also available from Vietnam is Kopi Luwak, also called Civet Coffee. The Civet, an animal that looks like a cross between a cat and a raccoon, eats ripe coffee cherries and passes the undigested beans.

These are gathered, thoroughly sanitized and sold as one of the most expensive coffees in the world. The beans have a unique flavor caused by enzymes in the Civets body that is unrivaled by any other coffee!

Although neighboring Indonesia produces the majority of Kopi Luwak coffee, Vietnam exports plenty of it, too.

Why is Vietnamese coffee so good? Is it popular in Asia and America?

Vietnam’s coffee is becoming quite popular in North America in recent years. Although you probably won’t find it in your local chain grocery store, it’s well worth seeking out in specialty stores or an online shop.

To find more great Vietnamese Coffee Brands & Blends, click on this link.

How do you make Vietnamese Coffee?

Vietnamese Coffee (or Vietnamese Cafe Sua Da) has a long pedigree and can be found in many Vietnamese restaurants worldwide as well as in  Vietnam’s coffee shops.

Vietnamese Coffee Maker with Water & Milk

It’s relatively easy to make, and I was thrilled to find all the basics in a local Vietnamese restaurant and store so I could learn how to make coffee the Vietnamese way.

The French brought many fine French foods with them to Vietnam in the 19th century, among them French bread and a love of good coffee as well as several types of coffee beans popular elsewhere.

Coffee in Vietnam (locals say: ‘ca phe sua da’ or ‘cafe sua da’) however adopted a few local characteristics, and the modern Vietnamese Coffee drink is very popular there, and gaining a wider appreciation elsewhere, too.

What is different about Vietnamese coffee?

It’s a blend of strong Vietnamese coffee, made from domestically grown coffees, including Robusta Coffee Beans, filtered in a Vietnamese filter device, served with condensed, sweetened milk.

I usually drink it hot, but iced is also possible because the coffee is already strong.

What do you need to make possibly Vietnam’s favorite drink?

If you want to know how to make Vietnam’s favorite coffee, the shopping list is quite simple: but if you can’t find your Vietnamese coffee products elsewhere, try Amazon.com. I was surprised to find the Vietnamese Coffee Maker was very affordable, as was the ground coffee.

  • 1. Coffee: I used Trung Nguyen Vietnamese coffee – a strong blend of Robusta beans with a strong flavor. To my senses, it smelled and tasted like chocolate. My wife thought the smell more reminiscent of hazlenut.

Since my pack had only Vietnamese writing on it, I was unable to identify the product properly on their website, but I suspect it is Creative 1: Culi Robusta which identifies the chocolate aromas. The grind seems anything but fine… perhaps suitable for longer filtration times.

Having experienced cheaper and much nastier Robusta coffee, I was totally surprised by the depth of flavor, absence of bitterness or harshness, and how well it matched the method making the coffee.

2. Vietnamese Coffee Maker: The Vietnamese coffee filter set or Phin. This device is deceptively simple. It looks like the top half of a Moka Pot. Take a look at the picture. Vietnamese coffee is simply a drip coffee maker that utilizes heat, grinding and time to make a surprisingly strong and delicious coffee akin to Italian espresso in color, flavor, and serving.

The device is a simple metal water holder with a large rim, Trung Nguyen calls it a “Gravity Insert”. Inside the device, you’ll see that there are holes through which the water filters, and small circular cover that ‘tamps’ the coffee down. You will also see a separate cover to sit over the top of the device to retain the heat.

3. Condensed Milk: This product is available in many countries worldwide, though it has fallen out of favor in the West because of its high sugar and fat content. However, its sweetened and thickened texture makes it an ideal match for deserts and Vietnamese Coffee.

You’ll also need boiling water, a regular sized cup or glass (it’s not particularly HOT but make sure your glass is tempered just in case!), a teaspoon, and about 15 minutes!

How do you make Vietnamese Coffee?

You can watch the following video to get a better idea of the process of making Vietnamese coffee.

If you’ve just bought the coffee maker, as I had, it needs rinsed to clean off any grime or dust. You’ll also need fresh tap water to boil and a clean cup, saucer and teaspoon (or two). No additional cookies are needed as the drink is quite sweet.

Step 1: Boil the water in the kettle or on the stove. Once boiled, do not reboil the water as this kind of coffee needs hot water, not boiling water. You’re not cooking the coffee grinds!

Step 2: Pour the condensed milk into the bottom of the cup or glass. I usually add about 1 or 2 teaspoons of the milk into the bottom of the cup. Do this first.

Step 3: Place the coffee phin on top of the coffee cup.

Step 4: Remove the circular tamp from the unit, and spoon in about one tablespoon of coffee into the bottom of the phin. Don’t worry about using too much coffee! This coffee handles well.

Step 5: Tamp the coffee lightly with the circular tamp to press it down. Then leave the tamp sitting on the coffee to prevent the coffee swelling too much once water is introduced. For the screw-type phin, you’ll need to screw down the tamp itself.

Step 6: The unit is quite small, so just fill a little hot water to soak into the grounds.

Step 7: Once absorbed, fill the drip filter with more hot water. It should be quite hot (96C~100C) and cover the unit. You may want to check on it… it is a slow dripper.

Step 8: You will need to wait four or five minutes. If you have the set up right, the coffee will filter much slower than even a larger drip coffee maker.

Is Vietnamese coffee sweet? Yes! The Coffee Is Excellent!

But the wait is worth it. The resulting coffee drink is the closest consistency to espresso I’ve ever come across: it’s dark, aromatic, flavorful, thick and delicious.

Vietnamese Coffee is perhaps one of the more localized variations of coffees in Asia. But I highly recommend trying it in a restaurant before you decide whether you like it or not. The first cup I had was great, the second not so good, but the third or fourth cup I was hooked.

Making Vietnamese Style Coffee is particularly easy, but better suited to entertaining or when you have a little extra time to kill. In summer, you can simply pour the sweetened coffee drink onto ice cubes. Since the water’s already cooled, you’ll have a great ice coffee, sweet and refreshing.

Useful Resources

PurelyCoffeeBeans highly recommends making Vietnamese Coffee. I’ve just finished one as I was writing this!  One resource that describes the process well with pictures and shows several different kinds of coffee phins is the How to make Vietnamese Coffee.

There are a lot of links to Amazon for products in this article to give you a flavor of what is available. Please read the disclaimer.

What are the different types of coffee beans, find out here!

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Which is the best Indian coffee? Have you ever tried it?

2-kalpna-restaurantEver had a cup of Indian coffee? PurelyCoffeeBeans reckons it’s not likely that you have. But I have … when I worked in a renowned UK Indian restaurant (Kalpna’s in Edinburgh: pictured).

I got the chance to try my first cups of Indian Mysore coffee, and found it absolutely delicious: much more like a darkly roasted espresso-type coffee. Quite an exceptional kind of coffee bean actually!

So when I came across the Indian coffee beans at a coffee exhibition here in Taipei, I was enthralled. I would love to introduce these to you… (hint: keep reading!)

What will I learn about Indian coffee?

This article introduces some of the coffee growing regions of India, highlights an interview with a senior director of the Coffee Board of India. You’ll also find out the different varieties of coffee beans that you can look for, and a couple of masterful coffee recipe variations that the Indians love to make and drink.

What are the best Indian coffees now?


I was privileged to meet Mr. Annapurnaiah Kolluri, Joint Director of the Coffee Board of India, at a November 2012 coffee expo in Taipei City, Taiwan, where he was enthusiastically promoting Indian coffee (pictured) to both buyers and consumers. Stay tuned to find out what he had to say and why Indian Coffee is increasingly popular, not just in India…! Read the interview below.

How did India start growing coffee?

But first of all, we’ll introduce you to Baba Budan… Even now, most people think of tea when India is mentioned but the country has grown coffee since the 17th century.  It is said that the Indian saint Baba Budan discovered coffee when he made a pilgrimage to Mecca and traveled through Yemen.

He smuggled seven coffee beans out of the country in his clothing and when he returned home, he planted the green coffee beans in the hills of Chikkamagaluru, in present day Mysore State,  which has since been renamed Baba Budan Hills in recognition for this saint.

What are the best varieties of Indian coffee?

Coffee from India is said to have the best shade grown coffee in the world with full body and intoxicating aroma.  A unique double-tiered canopy that allows a mixed shade environment is used combining evergreen trees and around fifty types of shade trees.

Indian coffee tends to be mild and well balanced with low acidity and spicy notes.  You’ll sometimes detect hints on earthiness similar to Sumatran coffee.  The ground beans have a nutty scent with a sweet toffee undertone.

When wet, the ground coffee emits a nutty aroma with hints of pecan and honey.  You’ll notice the coffee is almost syrupy and has brightness with a slightly rustic finish.

Top Varieties of Indian Coffee

There are four main varieties of coffee grown in India.

Kents was introduced by an English planter of that name in the early 1920’s.  It was very popular for about two decades and is still grown in a few areas; it’s known for its exceptional flavor and cup quality.  Selection 795 is a favorite with planters and is known for his high quality; it is balanced and has subtle notes of Mocca.

Cauvery, also called Catimor, is mutated from the Bourbon variety.  Selection 9 is a mixture of Ethiopian coffees and has superior taste and body; it won the Fine Cup Award from the Coffee Board of India for best Arabica in 2002.

There are also specialty coffees from individual plantations.  For instance, Amrita (nectar of the gods) coffee is unique in that the beans dry in the fruit on the coffee bush before they are picked.  It’s said that this coffee is the most natural you will find anywhere.

Monsoon Malabar


If you want a special Indian coffee treat you should try Monsooned Malabar coffee.  After harvesting and processing, the beans are stored until the monsoon season from June through September.  The beans are then left to the strong, moist monsoon winds which causes the beans to absorb moisture and swell in size. Their acidity level is thereby reduced.

The beans must be repeatedly raked and turned at regular intervals and when the process is done they have taken on a pale golden color.  This process is perfect for those who like deep, strong and musty flavor in their coffee and yet the brew is sweet and syrupy.

Where is coffee grown in India?

Coffee in the southern part of India is grown in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.  In the east it is grown in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa; in the northeastern regions there are plantations in the Seven Sister states including Assam which produces some of the best tea in the world.

The southern plantations are the oldest growers while the Eastern Ghats and northeastern states have developed their coffee plantations relatively recently.

Indian Coffee Documentary

The vlogger, Visa2Explore, went to Kodagu, Karnataka. It is famous for its coffee plantations. You will discover the many steps that Indian coffee needs to ensure the highest quality beans for the customer!

  • Picking: Gathering the cherries from the coffee trees after flowering.
  • Processing: Washed and unwashed coffees.
  • Sorting: By grade, weight, and color.
  • Roasting: Roasting are determined by the final customer.
  • Grinding: The coffee is ground ready for sale to customer.

Some Indian Coffees @ Amazon

Interviews with Indian Coffee real professionals


Welcome to our series of interviews with coffee experts. This is the first of the planned series, in which I was privileged to meet Mr. Annapurnaiah Kolluri, Joint Director of the Coffee Board of India, at a November 2012 coffee expo in Taipei City, Taiwan, where he was enthusiastically promoting Indian coffee (pictured) to both buyers and consumers.

He kindly agreed to do an email interview to share his passion for Indian coffee, his zeal to promote new coffee growers, and his enthusiasm for bringing new production methods and new markets to India’s coffee growers. This interview was carried out recently in mid-December 2012.

Could you introduce yourself to the readers of PurelyCoffeeBeans.com?

I work in the Coffee Board of India which is an autonomous organization under the Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Ever since I joined the Coffee Board in 1978, 34 years ago, I have served in various capacities and spheres of work like Planning, Projects, Monitoring & Evaluation, Development Finance, coordinating Extension and Development finance support services.

Presently, I occupy a senior executive post in the Coffee Board, exercising control over the jurisdiction of two major coffee growing states: Kerala (2nd Ranked Coffee Growing State) and Tamil Nadu (3rd Ranked) both located in the southern part of India.

What is your favorite way to drink coffee?

Early morning just after getting up, I love traditionally brewed coffee in a stainless steel coffee filter. I prefer the same coffee along with breakfast. In the office we drink a freshly brewed plantation blend (Arabica Parchment dominating with Robusta adding the required body) and for the evening snack it is a cappuccino. We end the night with a dash of espresso sitting at one of the cafes like Starbucks, Cafe Coffee Day, Barista etc.

How did you get involved in your current position?

I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture and later did my Management Studies (MBA) from a reputed institute in India before joining the Coffee Board.

By virtue of my 3 decades of experience working in many departments of the Coffee Board, I happen to get involved with many international assignments. I have represented India at many important International Expos, held in countries such as Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Taiwan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Nicaragua, etc. during the last 12 years.

What makes Indian coffee different, in your opinion, from its South American or Vietnamese counterparts?

Compared to the coffees originating from South America, Indian coffee gets classified as ‘Other Milds’ due to its mild flavor and acidic nature. It is preferred all over the world as a ‘blend’ with other coffees to enhance the overall coffee quality. Whereas Vietnam produces mainly Robusta coffee, Indian Robustas are found to be more natural due to the better climatic and soil factors in India.

At the same time, Indian coffee growing is more eco-friendly and sustainable on account of the 2- tier shade system, the presence of varied wildlife, such as elephants, wild boars, tigers, monkeys, etc., and the rich fauna and flora native to India.

How has Indian coffee growing changed in the last 20 years?

During the last 20 years the Indian coffee farmers have begun to perceive some of the challenges facing themselves as opportunities and started producing geographic specific or estate specific specialty coffees in good volume, both of which have tasted success in global markets. Today Indian coffees are finding their way into niche markets, as well as entering new and emerging markets like China, Taiwan etc..

What trends are becoming important to coffee growers? And to coffee consumers?

To produce globally accepted specialty coffee as well as sustainable coffee is increasingly important to coffee growers, instead of just being content to satisfy domestic consumers.

The coffee consumers in India have also learned to match global consumers’ trends as we notice their shift in tastes for gourmet coffee and patronizing the cafes we now see springing up in our culture. This is more noticeable when you look at the next generation of coffee consumers as the country’s population is still growing and more people are spending more disposable income.

How do you think the entry of players like Starbucks into the Indian market will change the perceptions towards Indian coffee in the next few years?

My perception about Starbucks is that they are capable of increasing domestic consumption in the country by many folds due to their ability to project coffee as a beverage vital to people’s daily routine. Their successful marketing to younger consumers comes with the help of brand ambassadors and appropriate large scale promotion campaigns. The Indian coffee farmers too tend to fine tune their products to match the requirements of Starbucks.

What is the biggest challenge you face in your work? And the biggest reward?

To make the Indian coffee growers produce eco-friendly, sustainable and specialty coffees. The biggest reward I have been getting is witnessing the ever increasing exports of Indian specialties in the last few years and the exciting trend in this direction.

Both coffee and tea are important economically and culturally to India. If you had to choose which one would you take on a trip to moon?

Of course! I would like to carry ‘Monsoon Malabar’ coffee which is produced only in India during my trip to the Moon.

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions in this interview for PurelyCoffeeBeans.com.

About the Coffee Board of India

Managed by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, the Coffee Board was tasked to promote coffee production in India. Now its duties include promotion, consumption, and sale of coffee. It also carries out an active research program, provides financial assistance to coffee growers, and works actively to increase both coffee production and productivity.

You can find out more about the Coffee Board by clicking to read about Indian Coffee or visiting www.indiacoffee.org.

How do I make Indian style coffee drinks?

In this video, the following video shows how coffee is made in India. Some of the methods you will recognize! The presenter introduces how to prepare your favorite drink, though you will see one unique piece of coffee kit: The Stainless steel filter. That is perhaps the most interesting aspect of the video, as the presenter shows how it is used.

One interesting variation in India is the Indian coffee which is mixed with 20% chicory to aid brewing. Then a couple of tablespoons are added to hot milk with sugar for serving.

You can find some real Indian brands of coffee in the Amazon store. See what’s available below.

More discussion on Reddit

Opinions about Indian coffee from Coffee

Suggested Indian Coffees

What are the different types of coffee beans, find out here!

Signature of PurelyCoffeeBeans in calligraphic brush style


Is Brazilian coffee good? What is the best coffee in Brazil?

Brazilian Coffee – Have you ever wondered about your cup of Brazilian coffee?

PurelyCoffeeBeans wonders why his most recent cup of Brazilian coffee is so popular. Is it true that, when it comes to coffee, Brazil is the undisputed world leader?

Image from rawpixel.com

In the fifty years that Brazil has been producing and marketing coffee it produces approximately 2/3rds of the world’s annual supply. But not many people know that Brazil is the world’s second largest consumer of the tasty brew!

In fact, Brazil coffee beans are found in most coffee shops, supermarkets, and even home pantries worldwide. You can find them in both exclusive coffee brands and innocuous blends. We have to thank the Brazilians for being so generous with their coffee!

Where does Brazilian Coffee come from?

It is ironic that the coffee plant isn’t native to the country that produces the most coffee on earth. Francisco de Melio Palheta from Cayenne, French Guiana supposedly smuggled it into the country in 1727 although the rumor has never been substantiated.

brazilian coffee Yellow Bourbon
Champion’s Estate, Brazilian Yellow Bourbon Sundried (of course!)


Nevertheless, Brazil provides the rich soil and the hot humid climate that coffee plants thrive in. And the rest is history. Today, Brazil is the largest producer of coffee in the world and many types of coffee beans are grown throughout the country.

What types of beans can you get from Brazil?

Because Brazil doesn’t have the high altitude of most coffee-rich countries, the beans are less acidic tasting. The low altitude coffee plantations allow Brazil to produce both Arabica and Robusta coffee beans.

Arabica beans are the type of coffee beans you might find in high-end products available in up-scale coffee shops and in grocery stores or in premium or specialty coffee brands. Around eighty percent of that coffee is Arabica Coffee.

Robusta beans are primarily used in our best known coffee brands, typically the instant coffees you see in supermarkets everywhere; they are generally considered to be of lower quality, which explains why instant coffee never seems to have the body and richness of brewed coffee. In an average year, farmers grow Robusta which accounts for about 30% of Brazil’s annual coffee bean production.

How is it produced? Top Quality – Small Farming

Though the coffee beans produced in Brazil were previously blended only with other coffees, Brazilian coffee has now developed a reputation as a stand-alone bean with its own unique characteristics.

Brazil is the largest producer of coffee in the world, growing about twenty five percent of the world’s coffee supply, despite the fact that the majority of coffee farms in Brazil are small, less than ten hectares. Brazilian coffee trees bloom three times each year, with pickers harvesting shortly.The beans are cleaned, dried, sorted and graded from higher quality to lower quality for mass-produced coffee.

Where is coffee grown in Brazil?

There are two main growing districts for Brazil coffee in Brazil, Serra Abaixo below the mountains and Serra Acima above the mountains. In recent years the Serra Acima area has faced drought that produced inferior quality beans.

Because coffee needs a combination of heat and humidity, minimal rainfall and ideal altitude for reasonable quality, it can be a very fickle crop in such difficult circumstances.

Even when things go right, the size of each region and the differences in climate from region to region are significant enough to have a profound effect on the flavor of the beans.

How is Brazilian coffee processed? Coffee Origins

Brazil coffee is processed using wet, dry, and semi-washed processes.  Thanks to the weather in Brazil, most beans are processed using the natural (dry) method.25

  • Dry processed coffee is coffee that is dried while it is still in the cherry, creating a sweet, smooth, complex flavor in the beans that is a favorite among coffee drinkers. In the dry method, coffee beans are dried while still in the fruit; this makes a sweet, smooth coffee but is a time-consuming process.
  • Wet processing removes the 4 layers that are around the bean and produces a fruitier, cleaner coffee.
  • Sun-drying, though more economical and used more widely, doesn’t produce the quality of coffee preferred by restaurants and discerning coffee lovers.

As with any other type of coffee the flavor of the coffee is largely dependant on the method used to process it.  Once the beans are picked and processed, unique flavor profiles begin to develop that are specific to the region where the beans were grown and processed.

How do Brazilians enjoy coffee?

In Brazil, coffee is enthusiastically drunk during the entire day from breakfast to dinner.  In fact, the Portuguese for “little coffee” or cafezinho, has slipped into local usage, even describing their “cafezinho hour”, a time when they drink small cups of extra strong coffee akin to the espresso, served with a sweet cake and a glass of chilled water.

Drinking these tiny cups of heavily sweetened and very strong coffee is a far different experience than the traditional “American” coffee that we are accustomed to, but the ceremony surrounding the beverage shows the love that Brazilians have for coffee.

Modern Flavors: Pushing the Flavors

Brazilian manufacturers have been experimenting with a new method, called the re-passed method, for processing beans.  When the coffee cherries are picked, they are placed into a vat of water and any cherries that float are usually discarded.

Recently, though, the re-passed (also called ‘raisin’) coffee beans have a flavor profile that many coffee drinkers find to be far sweeter than traditional coffees because of the extended ripening time before fermentation begins. You can read more about these methods for Coffee Processing.

Are Santos Beans the best Brazilian coffee?

The Brazilian Santos Coffee beans are likely the most renowned of all the coffee grown in Brazil. They are descendants of the original coffee plants imported here, and are very high quality. Bourbon Santos is considered the highest grade, while Flat Bean Santos is of lesser quality but still acceptable to most coffee drinkers.

Altitude also matters, as beans grown at lower altitudes pick up ashy, bitter flavors. If you can find a City to Full City roast, you’ll be drinking the best Brazil has to offer; the light roast is deliciously nutty and the dark is smooth and chocolaty.

It’s a favorite!

The smooth yet sweet flavor of Brazilian beans is a favorite of coffee drinkers who want a flavorful roast without the bitterness that some coffees have.  Brazilian coffee is one of the primary beans used in most espresso blends, partly due to the low acidity and strong flavor profile of the beans.

Brazilian coffee has become increasingly popular thanks to many large commercial companies that market and sell Brazilian coffee blends.  These blends are found on every coffee aisle and in most coffee houses and represent the most common type of coffee that you can buy.

I’ve included some samples of coffee with pure Brazilian Beans (Coffee Bean Direct Santos Coffee, Organic Camano) and blends which is more typical of Brazilian coffees (Lavazza’s inBlu, and Gevalia’s Brazilian Estates)

However, Brazil has only recently begun entering the specialty coffee market, competing with specialist blends produced in Ethiopia, Sumatra, and other well-known coffee exporting countries.

What other Brazilian Coffee Beans are there?

You may also find Brazil Cerrado coffee beans (in Organic, Green Bean, and Ground) worth trying. I’ll be happy to add more suggestions … so drop me a line with information about the Brazilian Coffees you’ve tried.

Reader’s Questions

At PurelyCoffeeBeans, I’ve answered lots of questions over the years. You’ll find the questions and their answers scattered throughout the site! I’m always open to more questions, if you’re frustrated or curious, or you want to review a coffee, why don’t you drop me a line!

This week we welcome…!

I’d like to buy Brazilian coffee, but which one?

by Ann from Michigan


I have a friend who loves brazilian coffee, could you tell me where I can order or buy some for a christmas gift? I am not a coffee drinker, so I don’t know much about it. Thank you.

Dear Ann,

It’s really hard to know what your friend loves most about Brazilian coffee. I will say that it’s likely that by spending a bit more on the beans, you’re likely to find a much better coffee. Don’t go for volume over quality! I already outlined some suggestions on my this, and you can explore them.

I would add: don’t buy ground, buy freshly roasted (if you can); avoid popular brand names (including the biggest)… you can find better quality elsewhere; and if you live in a city, you should certainly be able to find locally roasted coffee.

Just google “City” + coffee roaster. I have enjoyed coffee also from Guatemala, Colombia, … so don’t feel constrained if you can’t find something palatable from Brazil.

Please feel free to let me know if I missed anything or your experience is different!

Best Wishes

What are the different types of coffee beans, find out here!

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5 Secrets of Sumatran coffee – Why does it taste so good? Why is it worth drinking?

Sumatra coffee beans are worth your cup: Introducing Sumatran coffee

As PurelyCoffeeBeans knows, Sumatran Coffee is one of the best known Indonesian coffees.

Sumatran Coffee waiting for sale
Sumatran Coffee waiting for sale

 Photo by Sangga Rima Roman Selia on Unsplash

It can be found in many popular coffee blends these days, including Starbucks, Kirkland, and many other premium or international brands. It ranks among the best coffee beans you can buy!

Ages ago, I received this email from Christine in the UAE asking about the coffee of Sumatra.

Coffee of Sumatra: What is the Process & Type?

by Christine from United Arab Emirates

What is the coffee of Sumatra? What is the coffee process used to produce Sumatra coffee?


What can I find out about Sumatran coffee?

Drinking a cup of Sumatran Coffee is one of the best coffee experiences available, as any true coffee lover already knows. Sumatran coffee beans typically produce a heavy, complex, smooth coffee that is regarded as some of the tastiest on the market.

What makes Sumatran coffee different from bean to cup?

From the moment it hits your tongue, you can taste the warm, smooth, rich flavor of the Sumatran bean. Each blend is a little different, giving you a literal taste of the region where the beans were grown and processed.

The flavors can range from a deep, sensual coffee flavor to a light and smooth fruit infused taste. Sumatra Coffee is a perennial favorite among discerning coffee lovers, but you may wonder where the coffee gets it’s distinctive flavor.

What is Sumatran coffee?

Sumatran coffee is a broad term that refers to a large number of different coffees that are grown in the Sumatra region of Indonesia. The region covers hundreds of miles, from low coastal areas to steeply rising mountain areas.

And this is what they grow,… I’ve included a sample of the popular varieties that you can purchase. If you want to choose other varieties of Sumatran, click on the pictures and do your own search:

What is Magnum Sumatra Mandheling coffee?

Farmers throughout the region grow the beans, with each change in climate contributing its own twist to the flavor of the coffees. But the Lintong and Mandheling areas produce the majority of Sumatra coffee.

If you want to read the full story about the Sumatra coffee farmers, check out the blog theDigitalTrekker for the page (new window). It’s well worth watching the slides! I used to embed that photoshow, but it’s not working… so now you have to visit the photographer’s site.

How is Sumatran coffee processed?

Differences in how the beans are processed lead to changes in the flavor of the final cup of coffee. There are two primary methods used in Sumatra coffee.

Dry Processing: Farmers typically pick the beans, remove the skins and ferment them overnight in woven plastic bags to loosen the pulp. The next morning they are washed by hand and laid out on drying sheets to dry naturally in the sun. Some are dried directly on the ground, which can impart an earthy taste to the final coffee product. This drying process is where the beans acquire the subtle differences often preferred by experienced coffee drinkers.

Wet Processing: Though most beans are dry-processed, a smaller percentage of beans are processed using a “wet-hulled” method, in which the beans are picked, and then dried only partially. This is a newer process that removes the four layers surrounding the bean, and results in a brighter, fruitier coffee.

Beans which are dried completely before having their outer layer removed are the most “pure” version of Sumatran coffee, because the drinker will experience only the flavor of the bean, without the characteristics added when the drying process occurs outside of the hull. But much of the appreciation of coffee lies in the coffee drinkers’ own taste buds.

What is Sumatran coffee made of? What special coffees are there?

Connoisseurs often look for aged green coffee beans grown in the western region called Aceh because aging accentuates the spicy, earthy notes of Sumatran coffee.

Gayo Mountain coffee beans are less famous but many coffee lovers prefer them; they are all grown in the shade and very few have been treated with any type of chemical. Small farms in Aceh use the backyard washed method, resulting in coffee whose taste ranges from sweet and rounded to grassy and thin. Some of the coffee is also semi-dried.

Kopi Luak coffee is a Sumatran gourmet treat that is said to be the excreted by a small animal called a luak. Luaks eat coffee fruit, digest the pulp and outside layers then excrete the beans. This type of bean, when roasted, apparently brings about $300 per pound!

The coffee that results is full-bodied, earthy and low-key. People search for and retrieve the beans in the wild animal’s droppings; some even keep luaks for the sole purpose of feeding them coffee fruit and collecting the results.

What is the best Sumatran coffee? Select your beans carefully!

So if you are buying from a larger coffee store, then you should find the Sumatran coffee beans are of a decent quality. Unfortunately, for smaller stores, you need to pick and choose more carefully; the prices alone won’t dictate the quality of the drink in your cup.

Most drinkers value Sumatran blends for their unique combination of smooth taste and low acidity along with the many subtle differences in flavors. Drinking a cup of quality Sumatran coffee will leave you with the rich flavor lingering in your mouth even after the last drops are gone, especially if you use a siphon coffee maker or a hand poured method.

Where can I buy Sumatran coffee?

When you look at specialty roasts in your local coffee shop, you will find Sumatran Coffee Beans among the gourmet blends. The unique qualities of the Sumatran blend have made it a favorite among American specialty coffee drinkers.

When you are ready to try Sumatran Coffee, take a moment to allow the scent of the coffee to surround you. Try to detect the flavors of the region in the scent – earthy, warm, bittersweet, smooth, chocolaty, fruity? Then, as you take a sip, try to taste those flavors in the coffee.

Sumatran coffee is for those who truly enjoy the flavors that coffee has to offer.

What are the different types of coffee beans, find out here!

Signature of PurelyCoffeeBeans in calligraphic brush style


4 Reasons Colombian Coffee is the best coffee in the world

Colombian Coffee: Unearth the Secret to High Quality Coffee

PurelyCoffeeBeans reckons most people have had Colombian Coffee (see the footnote) and probably drink it every day, without even thinking about it.

Colombia Reserva Del Patron

Loaded and ready for delivery to your cup! In this post, we’ll look at Colombian coffee and why the magic comes from there.

Disclaimer: When you buy through a link on this site, I earn commission
from any qualifying purchases as I’m an Amazon Associate.

So it’s not surprising how easy it is to find in stores, coffee shops and buy at online stores; and you will find that almost every coffee brand supplies their own variation on the theme of Colombian coffee.

What can I learn about Colombian Coffee?

inspecting the Columbian coffee beans
(Image: A farmer inspecting the beans for poor quality beans by hand.)

What is Colombian coffee? How is Colombian coffee grown?

Colombian Coffee or Columbian Coffee* plants take about 8 weeks to germinate and develop. Then the farmers select the healthiest plants and transfer them to a nursery where they are cultivated for six more months. At this point, they are taken to a plantation and planted.

But it’s only three or four years later that a tree will have its first blossoms. Then it will produce those richly colored red cherries that contain the coffee beans.

At harvesting, they are picked by people, not machines, and loaded onto donkeys or mules to be taken to the de-pulping machine, one of the few mechanized processes involved in the harvest of Colombian Coffee or Columbian Coffee*.

What makes Colombian coffee special?

In his IG account, [email protected] writes of Colombian coffee beans as “Where the magic comes from.” Now that’s a sentiment I can’t agree with more!  

a. Hint: Washing, soaking and drying process

After the pulp is removed and sent off to be used as fertilizer, two seeds are left. They have grown together so that they look rather like a rounded football split down the middle.

The beans go into large tanks to soak for a full day then they are washed to get rid of debris such as twigs. Poor quality beans are also removed painstakingly by hand.

They are then dried and spread out on terraces where they are frequently turned for days as they dry out. The beans can’t be overly dried, but the farmers don’t want them to contain too much moisture, either.

b. Thorough Inspection Process

What makes Colombian coffee so unique is the exacting and thorough inspection process that maintains the high quality control standards that make the coffee so popular.

Inspectors visit each farm to inspect sanitary conditions, the health of the trees and to see whether the beans have been washed properly. They inspect the beans for size, color, texture and overall quality.

The inspector removes the husk and parchment of a Colombian coffee bean chosen at random then cuts into it with a knife to see if it’s been dried correctly. If it is too dry, it will split quickly.

The beans are inspected again at the market by random sampling for aroma, color, size, moisture and texture. Only the best are sold for export. They’re then put in machines that remove the husk and skin and sorted by size, shape and weight.

The resulting beans are olive green, put into bags and inspected once more before being sealed. A sample is roasted, ground and tasted as a brewed cup of coffee. Even at this stage, a crop can be rejected for export.

c. Standards for Quality and Recognition

Colombia takes great pride in its coffee crop and has a very exacting process for producing it. Most farmers harvest their crop manually, and only one machine, the de-pulping machine, is used.

The rest of the work is done by hand. Even transporting the coffee berries from the orchards to the processing area is done by human and animal labor.

The meticulous inspection process insures that the Columbian coffee you buy will be the very best the country has to offer, processed in sanitary conditions and picked through to include only the finest beans for your morning cup of coffee.

In September 2007, the EU recognized its quality, thorough inspections, and distinctive taste by recognizing Columbian Coffee or Columbian Coffee* as a ‘Protected Designation of Origin’.

What Columbian coffee have you tried?

Left Picture – Colombian Rain Forest Coffee is usually pretty good, these are produced by the National Federation of Coffee Growers in Colombia, and hand-roasted. I was lucky to get them just after they’d been roasted! Lovely.

Middle PictureColombia Reserva Del Patron. Actually, it’s a decent roast from good beans. I’m enjoying the coffee for breakfast. The price was pretty decent, too. I shall be buying it again. Available from Louisa Coffee Shops, but supplies are limited.

Right Picture – Thanks to Penny, who ventured abroad this summer with AIESEC in a mission to help teach in Colombia. She brought back this lovely bag of Columbian coffee beans with a lovely aroma of chocolate sweetness. 100% Columbian coffee by Café de Colombia: Dark Roast with a strong caramel aroma, rated as stronger in flavor, too. Can’t wait to try them out!  And thank you so much, Penny(潘俞穎)!

In fact, I’ve tried many brands of Colombian coffee, including the Millstone’s Colombian Coffee, and Costco’s, and Starbucks, to mention three popular choices. Each of these were very smooth and palatable, though I also enjoyed very much First Colony’s Rainforest blend. You can also try Eight O’Clock Coffee’s Colombian blends, all of which are very popular.

Overall, I found that Colombian coffee’s reputation as being a popular, high-quality coffee – that is carefully grown and processed largely by hand to ensure the quality of the coffee – is maintained.

So that’s the secret!

So next time you’re drinking that cup of Columbian coffee or waiting for your order, be thankful that the Coffee Farmers of Colombia worked so hard to create, maintain and provide you with an exquisite cup of coffee.

This is the secret to the wonderful, rich flavor of Colombian Coffee or Columbian Coffee*! It is truly an exceptional bean among the many different types of beans you can buy!

*Typographical Note A kind reader pointed out that the name of the country is actually Republic of Colombia (see Wikipedia’s entry on Colombia, however, many usages of the term to denote Colombian Coffee are spelled as Columbian. This is likely due to the anglicisation from which the country derives its name: Christopher Columbus or Christoffa Corombo.

What are the different types of coffee beans, find out here!

Signature of PurelyCoffeeBeans in calligraphic brush style


What is sustainable coffee in coffee farming in the 21st century?

Is Sustainable Coffee possible? Is sustainability a real challenge
for coffee farmers, suppliers & consumers?

PurelyCoffeeBeans reckons we have enjoyed good coffee at very reasonable prices from a burgeoning industry that supplies perhaps one of the world’s favorite drinks for years.

But there are challenges on the horizon for different types of coffee beans on many fronts to the future of our favorite drink.

Unsplash: Different types of sustainable coffee beans cherries freshly picked
Credit: Rodrigo Flores on Unsplash

To bring yourself up to speed… check out these links:

What will I learn about…?

Coffee Sustainability: what is sustainable coffee exactly?

The concept of sustainable coffee is rather nebulous at best, however. I shall attempt to define it in three broad categories:

  • I. the cultivation and process of green beans
  • II. purchasing, distribution, processing of those beans
  • III. final destination preparation for coffee drinks and dry coffee

This article hopes to explore the issues of coffee sustainability and ask what we can do to make sure that everyone can continue to enjoy this wonderful product.

It also looks at the role of humans and whether coffee is sustainable for coffee farmers!

What is FairTrade Coffee?


FairTrade Coffee helps to bridge some of the gap between the farmers and the consumer, like you and me. The general goal is to help farmers and their workers earn equitable rates for coffee beans. But it’s not just for farmers’ incomes, FairTrade coffee aims to support both producers and appropriate practices.

In European countries, many coffee drinkers put considerable effort into buying what are known as Fairtrade coffee brands. It’s a simple concept: that by buying FairTrade Beans, you will end up putting more money into the hands of the farmers than via conventional purchasing systems or the free market.

FairTrade Origins

Fairtrade Coffee is a social movement that is market-based, helping small independent growers of various crops and producers of crafts and other handiworks.

It is intended to help these people become economically independent by supporting their businesses in the growing stages.

This program pays its suppliers a higher price than is usual in order to encourage responsible environmental practices and social standards.

FairTrade Certification

When you buy organic fair trade coffee it will be labeled either “Fair Trade Certified Mark” or “International Fairtrade Certification Mark”. It is required to come from “Flo-Cert” inspectors and producers who are certified through specific standards.

Fairtrade certified products must not come from child labor, unsafe workplaces or any violation of the United Nations charter regarding human rights. These coffee beans are grown without destroying forest canopy, thus preserving an important part of our global environment.

Early Coffees: *Ahem*

Though wrapped up in the issues and history of social injustice, the results of the first FairTrade coffees were less than spectacular. The coffees that were initially sold just did not match the regular quality standards, in terms of packaging, product quality, and distribution.

This may have been the result of the inexperience of organizations, like Oxfam, in procuring, preparing and selling coffee-related products. (Personally, I wanted to like FairTrade Coffee in the 1990’s… but couldn’t bring myself to.)

Organic Just Tastes Better 

Then in the 2000’s many well-known coffee companies in Europe started to purchase and sell much higher quality FairTrade Coffee. With higher quality blending and roasting, these brands have found far greater acceptance in the marketplace. The quality problems, even for me, have been solved to the benefit of FairTrade Farmers everywhere.

Organic fair trade coffee is shade-grown and free of harmful chemicals or pesticides. Many coffee lovers say that they can discern the difference in body and flavor. They like the fact that not only do they get a superior cup of coffee but by paying the farmers a fair wage they are contributing to the farmers’ local communities.

Because they can get a fair price for their goods, these producers are able to educate their children and afford access to health care and decent shelter. With more money, too, the farmers can also invest in their own businesses for the first time. Meaning even better coffee beans.

FairTrade: From Farm to Coffee Cup

After hand-picking the coffee beans, growers sell them to a roaster who also meets Fair Trade requirements; they live up to working and wage standards outlined by Fair Trade Certification.

The FairTrade Coffees then end up in your favorite coffee shops where you can buy them in your favorite drinks, or take them home and make great coffee at home.

When you see the product on your stores’ shelves, you know that you are getting ground coffee and coffee beans that are completely natural and free of many of the harmful practices of large corporate coffee plantations.

Now, doesn’t FairTrade Coffee leave a much better taste in your mouth when you know the coffee growers and roasters get a decent price, too? Especially, if some of the recent coffee you’ve been drinking has a more bitter taste of coffee fraud.

Is growing Coffee in Taiwan possible?
Taiwan’s History, Environmental & Cultural Challenges


Surprising to many, including PurelyCoffeeBeans, is the fact that Taiwan has a history of coffee growing. During colonial times, regular shipments of coffee to the Japanese market took place. Rediscovering coffee has coincided with a greater interest in 3rd Wave Coffee trends, which focus on natural roasting, fruitier flavors, simpler extraction processes.

After Taiwan’s political control was handed back to the Republic of China and the arrival of a new political class with different tastes, coffee production switched over to tea production or the coffee plants were ripped up in favor of other crops.


These days, coffee growing in Taiwan is slowly increasing though total volumes are minuscule by comparison with formal coffee regions. Still, there is an upsurge in coffee growing here, and much of the mountain tea growing areas may be suitable to growing coffee, too!

Miniscule Volume: High Prices

But overall coffee volumes are minuscule compared to even third tier coffee producing countries. And if you buy ‘Taiwan coffee’, it’s may be mixed with beans from Indonesia and/or Vietnam so it’s hardly pure!

Drying coffee here presents a challenge due to the high levels of humidity; and blending/roasting are still not on a par with international levels. However, Taiwanese are very inventive, creative, and hardworking. Standards are rising fast.


The coffee growing regions currently include:

  1. Taichung,
  2. Pingtong,
  3. Nantou,
  4. Yunlin,
  5. Taidong,
  6. Chiayi,
  7. Hualien,
  8. Kaohsiung, and
  9. Changhua

… as Taiwan Scene notes. For a little more on the history of coffee growing in Taiwan, check out the article in Taiwan Topics from the American Chamber of Commerce, “Taipei Coffee Culture” by Jules Quartly.


I was surprised to find farmers attempting to grow coffee here in Lowland Tamsui despite the challenges. There’s a farmer who only lives about 20 kms from my home! And I’m told that my brother-in-law has tried to grow some in the mountains.

Cup of Taiwan domestically grown Arabica Coffee from 丹品咖啡園 (Danping Coffee Garden)

Who knows, eh? But serendipity is amazing. Just on the morning this post appeared, my wife came home with about 2lbs of coffee cherries from her garden near our home. So we are looking for ways to dry coffee beans quickly to avoid mould issues in Taiwan’s typically humid atmosphere.

Specialist Coffee Shops in Taipei

In the meantime, you can find some excellent (if expensive) coffee from around the island at the following coffee shop in Datong District.


San Coffee (森高砂咖啡館) is located at No. 1, Section 2, Yanping North Road, Datong District, Taipei City, 103. It’s near the Dihua Shopping Area, so a trip there can easily be combined with a fine coffee! I should really add it to my recent post about cafes in Taipei!

Coffee Exhibitions & Trade Shows

There is an upcoming Coffee Trade Show that I plan on attending. It’s well worth visiting to discover what is going in the Taiwan coffee scene.


The local coffee scene is a fast developing one with vast improvements in both quality and availability of coffee everywhere. Of course, you can still stumble upon the nastly stuff… but there is less excuse now than ever when a decent coffee shop is often less than a few minutes away by MRT!

Tell me about Four Other Kinds of Sustainable Coffee

Organic Coffee: Sustainable Coffee

Organic Coffee aims to avoid using chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and other compounds commonly used in modern farming. Organic means that the coffee is 100% naturally sourced, naturally grown, and produced.

Shade Grown

Shade grown coffee plants were originally grown in the shade of trees, but with recent advances in coffee plantations, more hardened coffee plants were introduced, with the inevitable increase in unsustainable practices. Shade grown coffee is a throwback to traditional techniques.


Coffee rust disease has been decimating coffee crops across Latin America for years. GMO varieties have been cultivated for increasing coffee plant yield, fighting disease (like coffee rust), and to deal with water shortages, cold in the higher elevations, insects, and help with weed killer. Naturally, customers are apprehensive about the Franken coffees, and seek out non-GMO coffee sources.

Natural Process: Sustainable Coffee

Most coffee cherries, once picked, are wet processed to remove the outer fruit and skin. Dry processing involves letting nature take its time to dry out the beans, and it doesn’t require advanced machinery or power. It is often done in areas where there is less chance of rain, too.

The beans are turned occasionally to ensure that they dry out properly. It may take four weeks to dry out the beans properly. The farmers are waiting for the right level of moisture in the beans for proper storage and further processing into coffee.

How can I buy sustainable coffee? What is the future for sustainable coffee?

Other kinds of sustainable coffee available in the marketplace also include Rainforest Alliance, and Direct Trade. You can find them from good retailers, large Internet stores, and local roasters, too.


What are the different types of coffee beans, find out here!

Signature of PurelyCoffeeBeans in calligraphic brush style


What are the best espresso beans? 10 tips to buy the best espresso beans!

Choosing the best espresso beans for your morning jolt, as PurelyCoffeeBeans knows, is a matter of personal taste and of knowledge.

Types of Coffee Beans Darkly Roasted
Espresso Roast Photograph by PurelyCoffeeBeans.com

There really isn’t anything especially magical about espresso coffee beans, but when you are drinking your morning espresso, you will notice the difference because of the blending and roasting which differs from other types of coffee beans.

What will I learn about making espresso?

Fresh, Roasting and Storing

Espresso Photography Shots

What are the best coffee beans for making espresso?

Espresso beans are coffee beans that have been dark roasted and designated to make that type of espresso drink.

While light roasts aren’t suitable for espresso, or most medium roasts for that matter, dark roasted coffee beans are quite suitable for making espresso coffee. You can read more about coffee roasts. You can also learn about how to roast coffee.

Which are the best coffee beans for espresso?

The best espresso beans are dark roasted because darker beans offer more sweet notes.  The minute amounts of sugar inside the beans caramelize, making the espresso slightly sweeter and avoiding a bitter aftertaste.

5 tips to buy the best espresso beans!

You won’t really be able to know exactly which are espresso coffee beans until you try them. But there are some basic clues to buy coffee beans that can help:

1. Where you buy them: Avoid buying espresso beans from places where stock turnover is low, or where storage isn’t the best. If you do find espresso coffee beans in your local store be careful that they are not old.

Some beans are sold from bins and it’s essential that they be freshly roasted; air is one of the coffee beans’ worst enemies, robbing them of all the special properties that make espresso so tasty and satisfying.

2. Check the facts on the pack: If you buy espresso beans in a bag be sure to check the roasting date so that you don’t get beans that are old enough to have lost their flavor; also, what hints about the contents do the roasters provide – single estate, multi-regional, traditional blend?

3. Watch the price: Typically, when you buy coffee beans you’ll notice that some blends are roasted dark for a reason – the coffee beans aren’t the best quality, so over-roasting masks the poorer flavor. These coffee beans will typically be cheaper than you’d otherwise pay. So don’t be too cheap if you are looking for the best espresso beans! It’s worth the difference!

4. Look, smell, and taste: Buying the best espresso beans should also be a sensory experience:

  • i. When you look, what do you see? The different colors and depths of colors can stimulate or depress appetite?
  • ii. What about the smell or lack of smell? Can you detect an aroma that pleases you or turns you off completely?
  • iii. What about the taste? Try a coffee bean in your mouth. They are edible, and eating one may help you to determine whether it’s the best espresso beans.

5. Try before you buy: Would that you could… In some stores, you do have the opportunity to try different types of coffee before you buy them home. While commercial coffee brands are pre-packed to certain standards, so you’ll already know what to expect, trying varietals or single-estate coffee beans may help you discover better quality coffees!

What do typical espresso-based drinks look like?

Where can I buy the best espresso beans?

Finding the best espresso can be difficult if you don’t have a local shop that roasts their own beans.  You will rarely find beans of the quality you need for good espresso in your local grocery store.

Those beans are commercially produced and bagged, sometimes reaching the store weeks after they are packaged.  In fact, by the time they are loaded for shipment they’ve already lost most of the qualities that would make a good cup of espresso.

I’ll be including a list of the best espresso bean stores online and offline that I find, in the meantime, why not share which stores you like or don’t like!

Online Sales: Prompt and Freshly Roasted

Thanks to the internet, you also have access to roasted beans from all over the world.  If you order on a Saturday you will more than likely receive your beans in the following few days at the latest.

Most roasters use ground shipment; few of them offer faster delivery by air.  If they are packed properly, however, they will arrive in good condition with all the freshness you want for a good cup of espresso.

Why should you always buy fresh espresso coffee beans?

Thanks to the internet, you also have access to some of the best espresso beans roasted all over the world.  If you order on a Saturday you will more than likely receive your beans on the following Friday at the latest.

Most roasters use ground shipment; very few of them offer faster delivery by air.  If they are packed properly, however, they will arrive in good condition with all the freshness you want for a good cup of espresso.


How do you roast your own espresso coffee?

You do have the option of roasting your own beans, which isn’t that difficult once you learn the process and perfect your timing and skill.  Roasting machines are fairly inexpensive and if you don’t have access to a nearby shop that roasts their own beans you’ll want to consider this option.

Of course, you’ll find that you will be looking for quality green beans that you can use. Be careful to roast only enough beans to last for a few days to a week; freshly roasted beans will retain the quality needed for espresso for only a short time.

How do you store espresso coffee & beans?

Be sure to store both your unroasted and roasted beans in airtight containers in a cool, dry place—not the refrigerator or the freezer where condensation can ruin the beans.  It is also best to grind only as much as you need for the day, although some people prefer having a few days’ coffee ready for the espresso machine.

I find that even leaving the coffee beans in a sealed bag tends to let the flavor slowly diminish over the days that I don’t store the coffee beans well. This is more so, if you are storing coffee that is already ground. For more storage tips, check this article.

How do you make the best espresso coffee?

Depending on the grind of the coffee beans, you may find that you have a number of choices for your espresso coffee about how you prepare the final cup. The most obvious way, of course, is using a proper espresso machine.

It tends to result in a much better extraction for the espresso, with a fuller flavor, a delightful crema, and a satisfied coffee drinker! Whether you roast your own beans, buy them locally or order from a roaster’s internet site, nothing beats freshly roasted beans when it comes to a good cup of espresso, made with the best coffee beans for espresso.

For a little Sunday morning reading over your coffee, Food Republic’s George Embiricos takes a few minutes to show, describe and link to the definition of Espresso.


How do I tell the best espresso beans?


You won’t really be able to know exactly how good a batch of espresso coffee beans are until you try them. But there are some basic clues that can help:

1. Where you buy them: Avoid buying espresso beans from places where stock turnover is low, or where storage isn’t the best. If you do find espresso coffee beans in your local store be careful that they are not old. Some beans are sold from bins and it’s essential that they be freshly roasted; air is one of the coffee beans’ worst enemies, robbing them of all the special properties that make espresso so tasty and satisfying.

2. Check the facts on the pack: If you buy espresso beans in a bag be sure to check the roasting date so that you don’t get beans that are old enough to have lost their flavor; also, what hints about the contents do the roasters provide – single estate, multi-regional, traditional blend?

3. Watch the price: Typically, when you buy coffee beans you’ll notice that some blends are roasted dark for a reason – the coffee beans aren’t the best quality, so over-roasting masks the poorer flavor. These coffee beans will typically be cheaper than you’d otherwise pay. So don’t be too cheap!

4. Look, smell, and taste: Buying the best espresso beans should also be a sensory experience:
i. When you look, what do you see? The different colors and depths of colors can stimulate or depress appetite?
ii. What about the smell or lack of smell? Can you detect an aroma that pleases you or turns you off completely?
iii. What about the taste? Try a coffee bean in your mouth. They are edible, and eating one may help you to determine whether it’s good quality espresso beans.

5. Try before you buy: Would that you could… In some stores, you do have the opportunity to try different types of coffee before you buy them home. While commercial coffee brands are pre-packed to certain standards, so you’ll already know what to expect, trying varietals or single-estate coffee beans may help you discover the best quality coffees, like Coffee Review recommends!

What are the different types of coffee beans, find out here!

Signature of PurelyCoffeeBeans in calligraphic brush style


8 Steps to Buy the Best Coffee Beans – Follow this simple guide

If you love the freshest and best coffee in your cup, you need to buy the best coffee beans that you can. Nothing else will do! Right?

Let's Buy the Best Coffee Beans

Just going to your local supermarket and buying coffee beans isn’t always enough if you’re wanting to buy the best coffee beans — in fact, you could be sabotaging your coffee when you buy some coffee brands.

So what are you going to do to make sure you are buying the best coffee beans?

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What will I learn about how to buy the best coffee beans?

1. When I buy the best coffee beans, should I only buy freshly roasted?

While coffee can be kept for several years with the proper storage, it is quite perishable once it is roasted. This is because roasting extracts the oils that give coffee its flavor, body and aroma.

To buy the best coffee beans, ensure that they are freshly roasted so you get the full bouquet and flavor of the finished product. The easiest way to get the best coffee beans is to find a store that roasts on a daily basis.

What type of roast makes the best coffee beans?

What type of roast do you prefer? Dark roasts such as Italian or French roast can be quite good but all too often large commercial manufacturers dark roast for purely financial reasons. Lighter roasts allow more of the flavor to emerge, particularly in the fruity, aromatic coffee beans from Africa.

You can buy the best coffee beans at this local roastery in Taipei
Local roastery checking beans after roasting. (c)Kenneth Dickson 2020.

For the very best cup, be sure the beans are freshly roasted and don’t discount their appearance or their aroma.

Ask your knowledgeable barista if you want to buy the best coffee beans

An expert barista or coffee expert should tell you when the beans were roasted, where they are from and how the coffee will taste. Most shops will allow you to sample their fresh roasts if you’re not sure whether you would like it.

If you can’t find such a specialty shop and must depend on your local supermarket, you can still buy good beans. Avoid purchasing from bins that have beans that are broken, cracked or visibly impaired.

Bins should have a date on them that tells you when the roasting was done; pre-packaged bags of beans usually list the date on the bottom of the bag.

… or why not to buy pre-ground coffee!

Actually, most of this article presents arguments not to buy pre-ground or prepackaged coffee in the supermarket, or indeed anywhere. It’s similar to buying a car from a magazine or a pair of shoes on the Internet… You can’t always be sure what’s actually in the bag when you open it!

Should I buy green coffee beans?

If you are buying green coffee beans yourself to roast at home, pay as much attention to the quality of the beans as you can. Though green beans do keep longer than roasted beans, it’s important to make sure that they are stored well and aren’t discolored (due to molds or damp), damaged by poor handling or insufficient drying of the beans.


buy the best coffee beans with the help from Coffee Geek!Photo by (c) Coffee Geek on Unsplash

Also, after roasting, you’ll notice that the weight of your coffee is less due to the removal of moisture from the green coffee beans. Roast Magazine’s article, “BAKED BEANS: Observations on Water Content During Coffee Roasting” by James Davison,” suggests weight loss of around 12.5%, about 80% of which is due to water loss.

If you purchase approximately 15% more green coffee beans, that should give you 1lb or 1kg of light roasted coffee beans. You should read much more about how to buy green coffee beans at Buying Green Coffee Beans.

2. Can I buy the best coffee beans? Are they Arabica or Robusta?

However, if you have tried Arabica Coffee Beans, you’ll know that they generally produce a smoother, lower caffeine, lower body, and (perhaps) a more refreshing coffee with more delicate flavors.

But its Robusta Coffee beans cousin has a higher coffee caffeine content, more pronounced ‘boldness’, and a better price. Some blends, such as the Brazilian coffee or Espresso even dare to mix the two beans.

3. Is single origin coffee or a multi-origin coffee blend better?

Is it single origin or blend? What’s the difference? Well, in short, single origin beans will come from a single locality and be mixed with other beans from the nearby farms.

Though the definition can be flexible because it could refer to a single farm, region or even country, the flavor of single origin coffee tends to be more defined and distinctive than the more multi-origin or ‘generic’ mixes.

For example, Ethiopia Yirgacheffe or Guatemala Fuego would be regional single-origin beans.

Multi-origin coffee is the latest buzz word for blends, though the choice of individual blends may be more carefully done than the larger brands would choose. Multi-origin coffee may even come from different continents as beans are matched for their qualities to produce a more balanced drink.

French Roast, for example, often incorporates beans from several origins, but since the roast is very dark, the flavor of the beans can be overpowered by the roasting flavors.

Good multi-origin coffee brands will detail the individual beans as well as why they complement each other. Look for hints on the packets labels or ingredients labels to find out the beans’ origins.

It’s really difficult to say whether buying single-origin beans equates means that you can buy the best coffee beans. In fact, many popular choices for coffee incorporate other beans to balance, add flavors, or tone down unpleasant overtones. A good coffee roasting company will be able to blend much more favorable mixes of coffee beans, so I’d encourage you to try both of these!

4. Which is better for coffee farmers? Free trade or Fair Trade?

Nowadays, many coffee drinkers put considerable effort into buying what are known as organic Fair Trade Coffee brands, as their attempt to find the best coffee bean. The concept is that by buying Fair Trade Beans, you will end up putting more money into the hands of the farmers than via conventional free trade.

It’s an attractive idea to know that the coffee your sipping has not only made a great drink, but that you have done your part to improve the lot of coffee growers!

Though wrapped up in issues of social justice, the results of the first Fair Trade coffees were less than spectacular as the coffees that were initially sold in European countries just did not match the regular quality standards, both in terms of packaging and product quality.

This may have been the result of the inexperience of organizations, like Oxfam, in procuring, preparing and selling coffee-related products. (Personally, I wanted to like Fair Trade Coffee in the 90’s… but couldn’t.)

In 2000’s many well-known coffee companies in Europe started to purchase and sell much higher quality Fair Trade Coffees. With higher quality blending and roasting, these brands have found far greater acceptance in the marketplace. The quality problems, even for me, have been solved to the benefit of Fair Trade Farmers everywhere.

5. What is the difference between regular coffee and organic coffee?

Coffee purists often reckon the best coffee bean is, in fact, organic. While the definition of organic isn’t precisely defined in law, some organic farming associations emphasize organic farming techniques, standards and abstinence from artificial pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers.

Brands of Fair Trade coffees are often (but not always) organic beans, so check that category when you’re shopping. In 2006, the organic crop was estimated at 1% of the full coffee crop. You’ll likely find prices higher, and you may not always find a wide selection of beans that are organic. But ask if you don’t see what you want.

6. Is it better to buy whole bean or ground coffee?

If you are buying ground coffee, you’ll find many choices of roast, bean type, organic and even Fair Trade that may qualify for ‘best coffee beans’. But you’ll need to take care of the ground coffee so that you can preserve the most flavor in your cup. Some general tips include

  1. Keep the coffee in an airtight canister to prevent flavor loss
  2. Put the ground coffee in the refrigerator (NOT the beans!)
  3. Don’t buy packs that are too big, or you will find that the even the best coffee bean tends to become tasteless as time goes by
  4. Try to use the coffee within about 2 weeks at the very most once opened
  5. Buying smaller packs is the best way to keep the freshest coffee

Do try different flavors of coffee, types of beans, and grades of roast as you experiment to find what flavors suit you!

7. What is the benefit of grinding your own coffee?

Of course, I much prefer to buy decent whole coffee beans and well-known coffee brands, and spend the time grinding them myself. This delivers a more satisfying flavor and much fresher, too. After all, that’s what this site is all about!

If you are grinding, remember:

  1. Don’t grind too much at once
  2. Don’t overgrind the beans or you’ll get coffee sludge
  3. Keep the beans in an airtight canister
  4. Match your grind with your brewing method
  5. Use a decent grinder to get the best quality grind

Once you’ve experimented with different coffee products, beans, roasts, and grinds, you’ll find that the days of the instant coffee jar are long gone! And all for the best, wouldn’t you say?

But your quest for the best coffee bean may not be over yet? Have you considered these…?

8. If you buy the best coffee beans, how can you tell if the coffee beans are still good?

If you are buying the best coffee beans that you can see – they are unbagged, or in clear containers, ask the barista or store owner if you can inspect a small sample of beans. You will be able to see the beans’ color, quality and condition with your own eyes:

Check for the following signs of bad quality:

  • Broken, mashed or shreds of beans may indicate either over-roasting of the beans or poor storage. In either case, you won’t be getting the best out of these beans!
  • Check for uneven roasting or discoloration of the roasted beans. In short, the beans should ‘look’ delicious and enticing. If they aren’t, put them back!
  • You can also smell the beans in your hand: look for a roasted smell. If you smell stale beans, or there is no smell, then the beans will not make a decent cup of your favorite brew, for sure!
  • You can even taste the beans if you want to. It’s not harmful, and the beans will release some of their flavor or aroma in your mouth. Of course, it won’t taste like a cup of coffee, but at least if it tastes bad, you’ll know!
  • Also, check the size of the beans is similar (esp. if you think you are buying beans from one locale.
  • Lastly, determine the roasting date. You don’t want beans that have lain about the store for months in the summer heat or that haven’t been stored properly! Each day that passes means that roasted beans lose a little more of the flavor that makes them so desirable!

Once you have experienced the smell, colors, feel and taste of the best coffee beans, you will know what to look for, and what to avoid in your choice of coffee beans!

Where can you buy the best coffee beans?

Still no luck? Then see some of the best whole coffee beans available85, ask around, check out some gourmet coffee shops for advice, and keep looking! And don’t despair, we’ll help to guide you away from some of the worse mistakes, or at least we’ll try our damndest to help you buy the best coffee beans!

What are the different types of coffee beans, find out here!

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