Coffee Bean Guide
To keep coffee fresh, buy beans and, if possible, grind them as you need them. Find a supplier who can tell you where your beans are from and how/when they were roasted.
A good grinder is essential; bad grinding is the simplest way to ruin coffee. If you don't have one, ask your bean supplier to grind your beans for you.
Store coffee in a dark, airtight container. Oxygen and light will ruin the flavour (and a bean's flavour will dissipate after ten days at room temperature).
Store in a fridge or freezer for best results - there is no need to defrost them before use.
The flavour and quality of coffee beans vary greatly depending upon where they come from. Experiment to discover your favourite region.
Mild and sweet, the beans of Jamaica are grown on the slopes of the Blue Mountains. They often compare less favourably to those of Central America, but beans from Cuba and Puerto Rico are generally subtle, dark and intoxicating.
The coffee grown in Costa Rica and Guatemala is all, the story goes, descended from a single tree imported by explorer Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu in 1723. The well-respected beans are now praised for their ﬁne balance between acidity and sweetness.
Where many believe coffee was ﬁrst grown, Ethiopian beans often have a wild and fruity taste. Two types of Ethiopian coffee tend to be available: Harrar, generally considered to be ﬁner of the two, and the gamy Djimmah. Beans from neighbouring Yemen are of similar taste and often excellent quality.
More acidic than most, Kenyan beans are grown at altitude giving them a full-bodied flavour. Generally, Kenyan coffee is of a consistently high standard.
Earthy, full-bodied and powerful, Indonesian coffees can be unreliable. When they're right, however, they are magical. Coffee from Java was once considered to be amongst the world's ﬁnest, but most experts now agree that intensive farming has ruined Javanese produce.
This is, perhaps, the most famous coffee-growing area in the world. The most consistently excellent are from Brazil and Colombia where the beans are rich and sweet. They are usually a safe bet, but often are not the most exciting coffees on the market.
There are two types of decaffeinated beans, water-processed and chemical processed. Water-processed beans are steamed and soaked in water vats, removing both caffeine and flavour. Chemical-processed coffee beans taste better because more flavour is left intact.