There are an infinite amount of blends available to create and use, which can give the beginner the very daunting task of figuring out where to start and what bean is best. There are some beans that are great for different tastes, and others that are good for nothing and best avoided.
Single Origin Coffee
Single origin beans are, quite literally, those coming all from the same place. There are Arabica beans and Robustas, with the Arabica being the highest quality and Robusta being the cheaper of the two. Single origin beans are great if you can get good ones and afford the price of these, but with coffee like all plants, their fruits change quickly and a good bean one season may well be not so great the next.
Single origin beans are great when good but they can lack consistency season to season, and this makes the buying of beans a little tricky. If you want to buy single origin coffee beans, get them from a knowledgeable coffee shop or coffee bean roaster, and ask your salesperson which beans are good for the type of coffee you want to make. It is not necessarily true that the most expensive beans are always the best, so if they always seem to point you towards the most expensive varieties, maybe you should try somewhere else.
You can use any coffee bean to make any kind of coffee, but it is the Arabica single origin blends to look for if you’re making anything, Robusta beans tend toward bitterness and while they have the occasional place in blended coffee, they are not recommended for single origin coffee. Their use is usually reserved for instant coffee, and here we won’t speak of such terrible things.
What are Blends and Why Use Them?
With blends, you avoid some of the inconsistency, because the use of different varieties of bean masks the inferiority of one kind, and you can mix blends to create the desired balance. As there is no one bean which is good all the time, the flexibility of a blend is something to celebrate. Some coffee brands, such as Starbucks or McDonalds just to name a couple big players, want to keep their branded blends to a similar taste all the time and by mixing different beans and roasts together they can achieve a high level of consistency (whether you consistently like it or consistently don’t).
It is also true, however, that blends are often high quality beans mixed with low quality ones to keep costs down. This is a bit of a disappointment but when you consider the price of a single blend top quality coffee, sometimes a little bit of lower quality coffee is a good thing. Otherwise, if you’re drinking a lot of coffee, you may find yourself needing to remortgage to keep up with the cost of the good stuff.
There is More to Good Coffee than just Beans…
As with all coffee, there is a lot more to it than the beans, you can make or break your drink in the grind, roast or the technique used to make it too. If your coffee is not fresh that will change the flavor too, so while all this information is worth bearing in mind, there is magic in the art of coffee-making which doesn’t come across in all the science. You can read everything there is to read on the subject and still fail to make good coffee, it takes trial and error and a whole lot of practice, but it is certainly worth the effort.