Guide To Understanding Coffee Bag Labels
You are looking through different bags of coffee beans from different roasters. You see a natural-processed medium-roast blend with nutty flavors and a bag of single origin wet-washed, dark-roast beans with floral notes. How do you choose one over the other? With so much information on every bag of coffee, choosing what to buy often ends up being a guessing game. At BeanBurds, we aim to take the guesswork out of buying and enjoying coffee by educating you so you can understand and appreciate coffee better. We have listed down what these details on the labels mean, and how it impacts the taste of your coffee.
ROASTING DATE :
Many commercial coffee bags that you buy from supermarkets come with a “best-before date” that is dated 12 - 24 months from the packaging date. This is merely a “sell-by date” after which the retailer isn’t allowed to sell that batch anymore. What you need to check instead is the “roast date” because coffee is at its best only within three to four weeks of roasting. That is why specialty coffee is always roasted in small batches to ensure you only get fresh, quality coffee unlike commercial coffee that is mass-produced and sold at cheap prices.Make sure your coffee is freshly roasted - ideally within a week before purchase.
Coffee gets its flavors based on where it was produced, how it was processed, how long it was roasted, it’s variety, etc. So when you see flavor notes like “chocolate” , “fruity” , “nutty”, etc it does not mean that these flavors were added to the beans or that you may even really taste it. Tasting notes are merely thereference points used to communicate what kind of flavors you can expectfrom a bag of coffee.
Each coffee growing region has its own distinctive flavors and characteristics. Beans that come from a single location are termed “single origin” whereas “blends” are a mix of beans from different regions.The best part of single origin coffee is the flavor diversity and clarity.Blending of different beans is done for creating complimenting flavor profiles.Blends are more balanced and consistent than single origin. For coffee lovers who enjoy consistent coffee for a long period of time we would suggest a specialty coffee blend but if you are someone who loves to explore coffee at a farm level and identify and appreciate the diversity and uniqueness in each cup of coffee, you would enjoy single origin coffee more.
The elevation and temperature at which coffee is grown has a direct impact on how your coffee tastes. The perfect combination of temperature, light and lower oxygen levels at higher altitudes create ideal growing conditions for the coffee cherries. They mature much slower resulting in concentrated flavors locked into much denser beans. So higher the altitude, finer the coffee though there are few exceptions to this rule.
Roasting is the process of heating raw coffee beans to enhance its flavour and aroma. There is a common misconception that darker the roast, stronger the coffee and higher the caffeine level. The truth is in fact quite the opposite. The higher temperature in dark roasts turns caffeine into gas so darker the roast, lesser the caffeine. Light roast coffee has more caffeine, but is light-bodied and more acidic. Dark roast coffee has a heavy body with less acidity and caffeine. Medium roast coffee is somewhere in between with moderate acidity and a balanced body.
After the coffee cherries are picked up, they are processed to separate the coffee beans from the cherries. The processing method influences what flavors are accentuated after the roasting process. Washed processed beans give you a clean, bright coffee with fruitier taste whereas natural processed beans give a heavier bodied sweeter coffee.
Understanding coffee is a learning journey that we at BeanBurds would love to take you on. As we learn, if you are feeling lost on choosing the right beans for yourself,schedule a FREE coffee consultation with UAE specialty coffee expert Amer Nadr. Schedule now.