Saturday, January 9, 2010

How do I pick out a good coffee?

Over the last few days I've had this conversation several times. Usually I don't know where to start when I attempt to answer this question. In the past, I would recommend a specific coffee or try to tell them an important and interesting fact of coffee that would help them find a good morning brew. Just this week I was at a funeral and a close friend asked me the same question, "I want to learn more about coffee and drink better coffee. Where do I start?"

1) Go to a coffee shop that serves coffee from a good roaster. Many baristas don't know who roasts their coffee, if they know the answer with out asking someone else, you are getting warmer.
2) My favorite answers to this question is: Counter Culture Coffee, Batdorf & Bronson, Intelligentsia, and Stumptown. There are tons of quality local roasters, way too many for me to list here. Google them to find you local roaster.
3) Or, go to a good grocer: Whole Foods, Fresh Market, your local grocer and find the above brands. You can also order them directly online.
4) Buy only Single Origin coffees. Single Origin refers to a coffee sourced from only one place usually one country and ideally only one farm.
5) Don't be afraid to spend money ($12-$23) on a pound of coffee. Brewed at home that should yield 25-45 cups of coffee! Furthermore, if you care about supporting quality driven farmers, then support them buy buying it.
5) Pay attention when you drink it.
6) Try to follow the coffee seasons. Green coffee doesn't parish but it does taste better when it is consumed before 9 months after picking has passed. For example, South American coffees are fresh off the boat right now. The Centrals are starting to age, I wouldn't recommend them past March. Enjoy the East African coffee right now as well because come late spring a good one will be harder to find. But again the above recommend roasters usually follow seasonality so most of what they offer is very tasty.

Below is a PDF that Counter Culture published to keep people in the loop of which coffees are in in season.

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