Espresso Beans – Choose Them Wisely
Any coffee connoisseur knows that a great cup of espresso stems from quality espresso beans. Though there are many factors that contribute to quality, there are 3 main areas of importance: country of origin, roast, and blend.
Coffee was originally cultivated in the Arab world, but is now grown in over 70 countries worldwide. Brazil is by and large the current world-leader in coffee production. Colombia, Indonesia, and Vietnam are not far behind. Generally speaking, the quality of beans from these countries remains consistently high. By purchasing coffee beans from these countries, consumers reduce the risk of obtaining mediocre batches. Of course, exceptional coffee plants can be found elsewhere. It is just good to keep in mind that the C. arabica plant is the most highly regarded. C. arabica plants thrive in high altitudes and lower temperatures. Lower altitudes produce the C. canephora plants which are of considerably lower quality. Be sure to know where your coffee beans are coming from!
The coffee we drink isn't made with raw coffee berries. If it were, it would taste quite unpleasant and bitter. What we know as coffee beans are the result of raw coffee berries undergoing a roasting process. There are light, medium, and dark roasts. A light, or cinnamon roast, produces a somewhat delicate flavor. The term cinnamon is used to describe the light color of the roasted coffee bean, not the actual flavor. Medium roasts are perhaps the most common. They tend to be heartier and sweeter than light roasts. Many coffee grounds purchased at the grocery store are in the medium roast family. Lastly, there are dark roasts. Dark roasted coffee has a distinctly strong and pungent flavor. It is often consumed "black", or without milk. The richly aromatic flavor of a dark roast makes it perfect for espressos.
Once the different roasts are understood, it is easy to ascertain why coffee blends have become so popular. By mixing different beans, entirely new flavor combinations can be achieved. Some of the most common blends have names like "breakfast blend", "espresso blend" and so on. The reality is that coffee blending options are truly endless. Considering that coffee is grown worldwide, and roasted in many different ways, it is safe to assume that there are thousands of coffee blending choices. One just has to choose whether they prefer a commercial blend, like the ones sold by Starbucks, or a uniquely concocted regional blend. It is important to remember that espresso drinks use darkly roasted beans. Be sure to check the packaging of any coffee blend to ensure that only dark beans are used.
It may seem daunting trying to track down the best espresso beans. All it takes is a basic understanding of the different locales and roasts, and how the beans are blended. Add in a true passion for coffee, and let the exciting search begin. Of course, it all boils down to individual tastes and preferences. What one person may find unappealing could be your golden cup of joe!
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