Guide to coffee beans
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All about Coffee Beans: Flavours, Freshness and Coffee Waste

Coffee. Millions of people drink it every day. However do we really know what to look for in flavours, how to care for those tasty coffee beans and then what to do with the coffee waste?

Coffee bean flavour profiles

Let’s start by talking about the different flavour profiles of coffee beans from three of the major graphical regions in the world for coffee, that is Central America, Eastern Africa and Indonesia.

Central American coffee beans tend to be farmed in either Costa Rica, Guatemala or El Salvador. These coffee beans are known the world over, for their bright tart acidity, with chocolaty components and a caramel sweetness that goes with it. Many coffee experts say words such as clean or balanced are characteristics of these coffees.

The coffee beans that are coming from Eastern Africa, are typically from Kenya, Uganda or Tanzania. These coffee beans are really complex and diverse in their flavours, depending on the processing method, either washed or natural process washed are ones that are usually on the fruity side. You will also note really floral textures and tea-like structure about the flavours. Beans that are dry processed, are usually dried with their fruit in it, which as a result create more complex, fruity and earthier tones. There we go; two distinctly different flavour profiles, depending on the way that these beans were processed.

Indonesian coffee beans are usually bolder and bigger, and are lower in acid than the traditional styles. Coffee beans from Sumatra are ideal for dark roast and strong espresso drinks.

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I highly encourage you to try either one of those three coffees from the three regions the next time that you can, and really train your palate to select the ones that you prefer the most.

Coffee beans freshness

When discussing fresh coffee, Baristas are often asked that all important question, How fresh is fresh?. Well, there are a lot of factors involved here. Such as how the coffee was roasted, secondly how you stored it and lastly, how you’re going to prepare the coffee. When we roast coffee beans, we create CO2 and aromas. If we use the coffee too early, the CO2 actually pushes against the water and it’s harder to extract the coffee.

Actually, some of these aromas are really not that nice. There’s a boiled potato aroma early on and of course roasting aromas. If we wait too long to use the coffee, then we’ve lost too much of the CO2 and then the resistance to the coffee is much less, and there’s a big chance of channeling. Also we’ve lost our aromas, the coffee tastes a little bit flat and empty and at the worst there’s been oxidation.

Oxygen is something we have to avoid. If it goes in, it’ll oxidize and then there’s terrible flavours as a result. That age old questions about how long you keep coffee before using it, really depends on you. I usually wait 5 days for filter, with a maximum of 2 weeks. With espresso, I’m not going to start using it until two weeks. Usually between two and three weeks however I have really delicious espressos with coffee that’s been rested for four even five weeks.

Once you start using your coffee use it quickly you’re in a cafe so you should do. Don’t leave it in the hopper overnight or don’t leave the bag open. As soon as you’ve taken it out of the bag close the bag for whatever’s left for filter or with espresso make sure you put it in the bag at night.

Baristas can use freshness as a variable. There is a point in a coffee’s life where it will taste the best. You’ll know this as a barista but it’s not always possible. Even if you order your coffee early and you use your stock sometimes you will use it all quickly. In that case you’re gonna be using coffee that’s a little bit too fresh. What will happen is you might start getting an acidic taste. The CO2 absorbs into the water and you get carbonic acid so you’re gonna get like an almost sparkling water finish to your coffee a little bit of unbalanced acidity which will reduce the sweetness.

One sign is in a cappuccino when you’re drinking your cappuccino on the whites there’s white however the brown starts to bubble. So it’s usually a sign of light roasts being used a little bit too fresh. So these small bubbles in the brown parts of the design are a sign that the coffee’s a little bit too fresh. The CO2 seems to mix with the acidity of the coffee and starts breaking up the brown area. You don’t see this as much in darker roast coffees it’s mostly specialty.

One thing you can do to get rid of more CO2 is grind finer, however there’s already increased resistance from the CO2 so what you’ll have to do is reduce your dose. You may also need to use a little bit more water for your beverage yield to try and get past the CO2 into the tasty coffees when you extract it. When you’re storing coffee inside your cafe think about the temperature you’re storing it at.

Cooler temperature is better. With hot temperatures say somewhere like in the summer you’re gonna find that the coffee degases quicker. Cooler temperatures the coffee will last a lot longer and it’ll degas much more gently. Humidity obviously keep it away from moisture your coffee does not want moisture until you actually start extracting it. Light keep it away from UV light so it has to be in a container that isn’t clear. So no glass no clear containers keep it hidden from the light. And then that should help you keep it away from oxygen too.

Oxygen is a killer for coffee the CO2 can escape the volatiles can escape the oxygen will come in and it’ll start oxidizing your coffee. Freshness is an important variable. Usually in cafes the problem I find is that not that the coffee’s too old however people are using it too fresh. If you want the best coffee you can keep control of the freshness of the coffee.

What to do with coffee waste

We produce millions of tonnes of coffee grounds, and they are just about everywhere. So what do you do with them, besides throw them out? I mean there’s plenty of uses for the coffee grounds when they’re done, here’s a few of them.

You can use those coffee grounds to be a plant food for your high acid loving plants like blueberries. They really help the plants out every which way. Coffee grounds are kind of a steroid for those berries. If you are going to be planting carrots not only can you combine those grounds with the carrots it makes it much much easier to actually seed those carrots.

If you’re like me you’re always in the garden or cutting up vegetables for dinner or preparing something and getting stinkiness all over your hands, like lots of fresh onion or garlic, well all you got to do is take a little bit of coffee grounds and put them in your hands and scrub away and those nasty odours. Please keep in mind though that if you don’t like the smell of coffee, well that’s the trade-off you’re going to make because smells like coffee now.

For those people who really like the smell of coffee, you will be pleased to know that you can actually put it into your wood-burning fireplace, and it is going to fill up the house with that nice smell of fresh brewed coffee. If you like that coffee smell, when you’re getting ready to clean out a fireplace, take some of those damp coffee grounds and you’re going to go ahead and sprinkle them in and among the ashes and this will cut down on the amount of ash dust.

Also, coffee grounds is great to feed your worms. If you’re not into vermicompost, worms love those coffee grounds and they will turn that stuff into some of the most awesome fertilizer that your plants have ever seen.

You can take your coffee grounds and /or coffee and a little bit of water whatever mix floats your boat however you can take and make an antique looking paper. That’s right! You basically mix the coffee in with the grounds and you put some paper into a pan and you let it soak, unil you’ve got it looking cool, maybe crumble it up a little bit to give that that old authentic look. Then simply rinse it off and hang it up to dry.

Lastly, you can take some coffee grounds as a way to cut grease. When you’re trying to clean out some dirty pots or pans, take those grounds and get them in there and you use it as an abrasive. This has something to do with the coffee grounds and the acidity level of it all. It really works to help cut grease and therefore makes your scrubbing job much easier.