Like wine, coffee has many varied and different flavours depending on the variety, where it's grown and how it was processed. And then further changes to flavour in how it was packaged, stored, roasted and finally brewed. That's a lot of variables!!
So let's start with the most basic variable, the coffee bean variety. But like wine in simple terms, there is red and white; in coffee, it's Arabica or Robusta. Arabica is the more desired coffee bean. It is more varied in flavour and, when roasted, tastes more palatable.
Robusta is a cheaper, more hardy variety but has a taste like charcoal or burnt rubber when roasted and drunk. Luckily when you add a load of milk, it can taste better and actually not too bad! But once you've had Arabica, it's hard to go back. So next time you have a bitter and cheap priced coffee, no doubt it was made with Robusta coffee. You may have a blend of 50/50 of a cheaper Arabica from Brazil and Robusta coffee in some coffees. This mellows out the harshness of the Robusta but still allows a low price point.
So, now you know to aim for Arabica, what's next? That depends whether you drink black brewed coffee or coffee with milk like lattes, flat whites etc.
Where to start when exploring new coffees
If it's just brewed coffee you will want to explore different coffees from a single place of origin. Keep it simple - just start with a country. If it's from a good quality roaster, they will sell only great coffee that they expertly sample and taste test before they spent their hard-earned cash on buying bulk. They have done the hard work. You just buy, brew and enjoy!
Here are my favourite countries to try first:
Any of these from one of our roasters will give you a great starting point.
What roast should I try out?
For brewed coffee, I like my roast colour to be light or medium. This way, you get to taste the coffee and not the roasting process.
Now, if you like milk in your brew or make flat whites, espresso, lattes, etc., you will want to start with a blended coffee. This is where the roaster has spent hours trying different coffee mixed together to see which they think works best together and primarily works best with milk.
Again the hard work has been done for you! Thank you, roasters!
Identifying the best blends for brewing amazing coffee
Every roaster will have an espresso blend. Try a couple and find one that suits your taste.
Rather than look and search by country, I find it best to search by the taste notes. All the coffees on our site have information on the product page to guide you on this.
There are a range of flavours I look for in espresso or milk-added brews. They include:
- Milk/Dark Chocolate
These flavours go great with milk. With this type of coffee, I like to look for medium colour roasts. This means the sugars have developed a bit more and will give even more sweetness to the brew – without the calories. #noaddedsugar
The above is a great starting point for your coffee exploration. And with so many coffees to discover, it's a delicious and exciting journey. Our coffee subscription service is a fantastic way to try out different flavours, as we have brought together some of the finest tasting coffee from the UK's top artisan roasters.
We also have a lovely little book that you can make notes in on your coffees as you try different ones. Finally, if you're really serious about diving into coffee tasting, you might find our article on coffee cupping worth a read.
Enjoy your adventure!
Coffee Hit - Founder