Our most popular espresso blends
How to select the best coffee beans for your taste buds and why.
Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. Nothing is truer when it comes to the taste of coffee. Understanding what you like and what you don’t like in a coffee is a great starting point. We’ll explore flavour, acidity, roast levels, body, and freshness, so you can describe what you like in your brew and select the best coffee beans for you.
From chocolatey to fruity,
floral and earthy.
Sparkling bright or rather mild?
Light, medium or dark?
Delicate or full-bodied?
What is a strong cup?
Arabica vs. Robusta
Best coffees for
your brewing habit.
Fresh is best.
Chocolate. Caramel. Toffee. Nuts.
Who doesn’t like those tastes? Comforting, sweet, indulging. The good news, most of the coffees with this flavour profile come from Central and South America. Try any of our Brazilian, Peruvian or Colombian for those delicious caramel, brown sugar and chocolate notes. Yum.
If you are after floral and tea-like notes, you are looking for more delicate coffees. Try Ethiopian washed coffees. They are famous for their distinct and elegant floral, herbal, and citrus notes.
The biggest wildly fruity coffees out there are the natural processed Ethiopian coffees. We are big fans of those. And they have a great body and balanced acidity.
You will also find beautiful berry and tropical fruit qualities in coffees from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Burundi.
If you prefer earthy, savoury and spicy notes in your coffee try coffees from Sumatra and India. In particular, Sumatra coffees, due to its wet hulling processing method coffees tend to be earthy, spicy, wild, mossy and mushroomy.
If you like earthy flavours in your coffee, you might be one of the coffee drinkers who prefer the traditional taste of Robusta coffee beans. No judgment here. As we said: taste is very individual!
Acidity in coffee explained.
Acidity in coffee is not easy to define. Many words come to mind: lively, tangy, sour, juicy, sharp, bright, fruity, or sparkling. Compare the acidity of a peach to that of a lemon. We get a different sensation. Some forms of acidic sensation we find more pleasing than others. Acidity, combined with all the other characteristics of our coffee, can make your brew more exciting and improve the sensory experience. That is if you love acidity. What impacts the acidic sensation we experience in our coffee?
Processing method and acidity.
The washed (wet) process)
In the washing process, the ripe coffee cherries are de-pulped, meaning the fruit flesh surrounding the coffee beans is removed. The coffee beans are then soaked in water. This soaking process leeches sugars from the bean. With fewer sugars in the coffee bean, you have an increased perception of acidity in your cup.
The natural (dry) process
In the natural process, the coffee bean is dried in the fruit flesh, leaving the coffee cherry intact. Sugars from the fruit flesh pass into the coffee bean, and the perceived acidity of the coffee is neutralised or balanced out.
Altitude and acidity.
Coffees grown at higher altitudes (above 1500 meters) are denser and have higher acidity. Why is that? The cooler climate at higher altitudes slows the growth of the coffee trees, and the fruit (where the coffee bean is grown) development makes it denser and tastier.
Roast level and acidity.
Throughout the roasting process, citric and malic acids diminish. Hence the darker the roast level, the lower the acidity. Conversely, lighter roasted coffees retain the acidity.
Coffees with low acidity.
If you prefer more mellow, low acidity, the best coffee beans for you are grown at lower altitudes, naturally processed, and medium to dark roast. We suggest you try our most popular single-origin coffee Brazil Fazenda Pinhal or our Little Ripper crowd-pleaser espresso blend.
Coffees with more pronounced acidity.
If you are after good acidity, washed coffees grown at high altitudes are for you. Even better, if you are a devotee of filter brewing, try lighter roasted coffees. They’ll let the acidity shine.
Which one is for you? Well, that depends on what you are after in your brew.
The rule of thumb is: the darker the roast level, the lower its acidity and sweetness, the fewer its inherent characteristics and the higher its bitterness. The lighter the roast, the brighter its acidity and the more pronounced the coffee bean's original flavours. Here is what you can expect:
- Light roast level: Light body, notes of seeds, malt, grain, frass, corn
- Medium light roast level: Bright acidity, more complexity, clear origin character, notes of fruits, nuts, spice, brown sugar
- Medium roast level: Balanced acidity and sweetness, full body, clear origin character, notes of caramel, honey, brown butter, cooked fruit, darker spices
- Medium dark roast level: Emerging bittersweetness, slightly muted acidity, potential for heavy body, notes of tobacco, vanilla, bourbon, porter beer, smoked fruit
- Dark roast level: Prominent bittersweetness, muted
acidity, light body, notes of burnt tobacco, very dark cocoa, bitter black tea, very dark toast
(Source: Jessica Easto, the author of “Craft coffee: A manual”)
Espresso coffees and roast level.Shop Single Origin Espresso Roasts
Medium vs. dark roasts? Our espresso blends and single-origin coffees are roasted to a medium roast level to achieve a sweeter, more balanced and approachable cup with a good body whilst maintaining clear origin character.
This makes espresso roasts most versatile so that you can enjoy them across various brewing methods: espresso, stovetop, V60, batch brew, Chemex, Aeropress, Clever dripper and plunger.
Why don’t we roast dark? Dark roast coffees, in our view, should only be used for espresso-based beverages in combination with milk and flavouring syrups, such as frappes layered with cream and caramel in the summertime. They have more prominent/dominant bittersweet and charred notes.
Your favourite local coffee roaster will most likely sit either in the medium roast or in the dark roast coffee camp.
Filter coffees and roast level.Shop Filter Coffees
Filter coffees sit at a light or medium-light roast level.
We opt for a medium-light roast level for our filter coffees to highlight the coffee’s acidity and unique origins' characteristics. We select the best coffees with stunning fruit flavours and/or juicy acidity for our filter roasts.
Filter roast coffees are perfect for any slow brewing, extracting those delicious flavours left in the bean throughout the roasting process.
Body & Mouthfeel
Delicate or full-bodied?
Now, the body is a bit more challenging to explain as we can’t taste it. The body in coffee is the sensation of weight and texture. It is something we feel when we are drinking a cup of coffee. Did it leave a buttery, light, delicate or heavy sensation? That’s difficult to comprehend, right?
Well, think of the following. Sip on a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and port wine and compare the pair.
The mouthfeel is very different, right? The Sauvignon Blanc is presumably more delicate, and the port wine is buttery and heavy in your mouth. Now, try to sip on an espresso and a pour-over coffee. Very different mouthfeel, right?
This different mouthfeel has much to do with the strength of your coffee. We often hear the term that customers are after a strong coffee. However, you’ll be surprised that the strength in your cup has more to do with how you prepare your coffee than what coffee you source. So let’s explore 'strength' in your coffee.
What is 'strength' in coffee?
Customers often ask for a strong cup of coffee. The truth is that you are sitting in the driver’s seat when preparing your cup of coffee, how strong you’d like it. How so?
Take a roasted coffee bean. Approximately a maximum of 30% of that coffee bean when ground up and then coming in contact with water is soluble. To extract as many as possible of these so-called solubles depends on your grind size, water temperature, extraction method etc. - to name just a few.
When you start your extraction, lots of solubles are extracted and are very concentrated in your espresso. As the extraction continues and more water flows through the coffee bed, the rate of the extracted solubles declines. That means you are adding more water with fewer solubles ending up in your cup. As a result, your coffee becomes weaker.
So if you are seeking a ‘strong’ cup, aim for recipes with lower yields. For each gram of ground coffee, you want less espresso in your cup.
You might find that your strong extracted coffee lacks sweetness. For more sweetness, you need to extract more from your coffee. That extraction will only happen with more water and you end up with a less strong cup. Unfortunately, strength and extraction move in opposite directions.
Brewing method and strength.
An espresso has more strength than a pour-over coffee. Immersion brewing methods such as the clever dripper, plunger or inverted Aeropress produce more strength than pour-over coffee because the contact time between water and ground coffee is longer and more soluble compounds can be dissolved into your brew.
Grind size and strength.
Grind size has an enormous impact on the strength of your coffee. For example, if you brew your coffee in a coffee maker (batch brew such as Moccamaster) at home, you'll find using finer ground coffee results in more strength than brewed with a coarser grind size. Why is that? With a finer grind, you slow the flow rate, which means your brew water is in longer contact with the coffee grounds to extract its soluble compounds. A finer grind size also creates a larger surface area for the water to dissolve the soluble compounds. So finer grind means more strength.
Be careful not to grind too fine, as you otherwise extract too many of the bitter-soluble compounds into your cup.
Extraction ratio and strength.
Vary the ratio of ground coffee to brewing water. For more strength, use more coffee and same amount of water or the same amount of coffee and less water. For example, instead of using 16g of ground coffee per 250 ml of brewing water for your V60 pour-over brewing, try 20g per 250ml of brewing water.
Mythbuster on strength ratings.
If you have been buying coffee from supermarket shelves, you might be accustomed to a strength rating on your pack of coffee. Let me burst that bubble. This strength rating has nothing to do with the strength of your coffees, as strength depends on your brewing method, grind size and amount of coffee you use in your brew.
A high strength rating on your supermarket coffee packaging often means that the particular coffee has been roasted rather dark, and you can expect more bitterness and burnt notes – flavours you might associate with a ‘strong coffee’. Try to avoid coffees with strength ratings on them. Most likely, quality and flavour profiles have not been the primary focus.
Robusta coffee contains slightly more caffeine than arabica beans:
- Caffeine in Robusta coffee: 1.7 – 3.5%
- Caffeine in Arabica coffee: 0.8 – 1.5%.
Caffeine is one of the most bitter substances, which explains why Robusta has a distinct bitter taste. In commercial espresso blends, it is often used together with Arabica coffee beans to help bolster strength (and bitterness).
Natural sugar content
Robusta coffee beans are less sweet than arabica beans:
- Sugar in Robusta coffee: 3 – 7%:
- Sugar in Arabica coffee: 6 – 9%
This means Robusta has more bitterness and less sweetness. You might have wondered why many Robusta espresso drinkers are putting two spoonfuls of sugar in their coffee. Now you know why.
Another interesting fact about Robusta coffee is that it contains less oil than Arabica coffee beans.
- Oil in Robusta coffee: 10% -12%
- Oil in Arabica coffee: 15% - 17%
The higher percentage of oil in Arabica coffees gives you a beautifully creamy, smooth texture and silky crema.
Select the best coffee beans for the way you brew.
How you brew at home determines what coffee beans are best for you. Each coffee has a unique sensory profile and roast level for which some brewing methods are better suited than others.
If you worship batch brew and V6 pour-over coffee, you are most likely after a brighter acidity, more complexity and a clear origin character. Filter coffees are the best coffee bean choice for those brewing methods.
Said that, if you love batch brewing, for example, with the Moccamaster and are after a bigger body, a medium roast coffee is for you. Medium roasted coffees let you experience balanced acidity and sweetness, a fuller body with a clearly identifiable origin character.
If you love your coffee as espresso, AeroPress or stovetop, the best coffee beans for these brewing methods are medium to medium/dark roasts.
Freshly roasted coffee is best.
Recently we heard a radio add: “Freshly ground coffee.” We could not help but smile. We clearly prefer freshly roasted coffee.
Roasted coffee beans are considered to peak in aromas, flavours and acidity approximately 6 weeks after roasting. After that time they gradually lose some of their deliciousness and intense flavours. We recommend consuming your coffee between 4 days to 6-8 weeks after roasting for the best coffee experience.
So, how do you know the roasting date? Good point. Your coffee beans from your specialty coffee roaster will clearly state the roast date. Be wary of coffees that display best before dates, or packaged on dates. There is a reason why they don’t want you to know.
If you can, buy coffee beans instead of ground coffee. Ground coffee loses its deliciousness much faster.
We hope you will find the best coffee beans that make your taste buds smile. Start discovering our amazing range of skillfully crafted coffees from our coffee roastery in Melbourne.