Do you have a question about coffee? If you do, be sure to email us your question. We’ll provide a timely answer and then add both the question and answer to this page (unless the same question has already been asked and answered.)
Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: “What are ‘green’ coffee beans?”
The coffee beans you see in stores are brown. That’s because they have been roasted. But the bean or ‘seed’ that lies at the center of a coffee berry on the bush is green. Some coffee lovers will buy green beans and then roast them to the exact taste they like in a home roaster. The problem is it's not that easy to have consistency from batch to batch.
Q: “Does the country of origin make a difference to the taste of the coffee?”
Absolutely! The growing region has a lot to do with the taste of your coffee. For a milder, balanced brew that pleases many coffee drinkers, start by trying beans from Latin America - from Brazil, Colombia and other coffee-growing countries in the region. For more exotic, subtle tastes, try coffees from Africa or Indonesia. There are hundreds of different beans to try, and all will offer your taste buds some subtle and rewarding pleasures.
Q: “After searching for that "diner" flavor, I found it in the Shop Rite Restaurant Style coffee, of which I was told recently they are having a hard time getting shipments. It was 100% Arabica, but I do not know that much about coffee beans to know if that detail is specific enough to locate a new source of coffee bean.
I looked on your website and found references to arabica beans, but could not find any on the ordering page. How many kinds of arabica are there (or maybe, how many different types of roasts)? Do you think that you might have beans/roasts that might have the taste I am looking for?"
Answer: Firstly, let me deal with Arabica coffees. There are two main species of the coffee tree...Arabica and Robusta. Coffee beans from Arabica trees are considered to be of a much higher quality than beans from Robusta trees. All of our coffees are Arabica beans of the highest quality.
Secondly, lets deal with your search for "that diner flavor" that you found in the Shop Rite Restaurant Style coffee. I am not familiar with the Shop Rite brand so I have no way of knowing what this coffee looks and tastes like. But I'm willing to bet its a blend of coffees (all of which are from the Arabica tree). I'm also willing to wager the roast is medium, although without actually seeing the coffee this is only a guess.
Based on the above assumptions, I would recommend a couple of our coffees for you try: Ethiopian Sidamo (a truly wonderful tasting coffee and one of our top sellers) and our Breakfast Blend (very smooth and full bodied).
Q: For how long should I brew my coffee?
The question of 'brewing times' can be confusing. It is applied best when you use a French Press when making coffee. You place the coffee grounds in the glass carafe, add water just below boiling point and then wait before pushing down the plunger and serving the coffee. How long do you wait? Four to six minutes.
But what if you use a percolator? Well, the first thing to say about brewing coffee with a percolator is... DON'T! Percolators may have been popular with our parents, but they don't make a good cup of coffee. In effect they simply 'stew' it. And that's not the way to make and enjoy good coffee.
And with a drip brewer, you really don't have control over the 'brewing' time. The heated water simply drips through the grounds into the carafe. Ideally, the brew time should be between 4 to 6 minutes.
If you want to enjoy coffee at its best, use either a French Press or use a drip brewer with an insulated carafe - that is to say, a carafe that is not heated by a hotplate beneath it. If your brewer does have an uninsulated, glass carafe with hotplate, just be sure to drink the coffee before it gets spoiled with that 'stewed' taste.
Q: “I haven’t been happy with my coffee but am not sure if it’s because of the bean beans, the water or the coffee maker.”
Any number of things could cause your coffee to taste different. And I’m assuming you are using a high-quality bean. Maybe the water in your area has changed recently. Maybe your water authority is adding more chlorine, or whatever. As coffee is over 98% water this is always the first thing to check. Do you have a lime problem? Even a modest amount can build up over a period of time, causing the brewer to brew more slowly...thus causing a change in strength. If you can, borrow a brand new (or almost new) brewer from someone and try it and see if the coffee tastes better. If so, consider buying a new brewer.
Q: “I use a blade grinder for my coffee beans. A friend of mine has a burr grinder and boasts about how superior it is. Is he right?”
As with most things, there are two sides to this question.
For a quick answer to your question – don’t worry too much. A blade grinder is fine. Inexpensive too.
OK, now for the longer answer. With all the pros and cons of using a burr grinder.
Burr grinders are gaining popularity with some coffee lovers. They usually sell for between $45 and $100. Because burr grinders grind the beans by crushing them between a grinding wheel and stationery grind surface (rather than chopping like a blade grinder) you get much better grind consistency. Also there is a lot less burning of the beans. Most of the better burr grinders feature a timer, allowing you to grind just enough coffee beans to brew for two to twelve cups.
Cons: Burr grinders make more noise than blade grinders. Because the grinding wheel is spinning at a very high speed it can sometimes cause the grinder chute to clog. This is more common with oily or flavored beans.
Also there is a tendency for static build up in the grounds hopper although this is easily solved by lightly tapping it. Burr grinders tend to be a bit messy. (I’ve found the easy way is to pour the grounds from the hopper into the filter on a paper towel and dispose of any spilled grounds into the wastebasket).
Q: “What’s the difference between a Caffe Latte and a Cappuccino?”
Perhaps the best way to tell you the difference is to give you instruction on how to make both.