First thing to remember: We are NOT drinking brands, we are drinking coffee itself.
To start choosing the right coffee, we have to stop relying on chains, coffee shops, baristas, and supermarkets. We are the one who decide what we like to drink.
Hand drip coffee (Pour over coffee) highlights the unique and delicate flavor of the coffee itself. You can tell if the coffee is good or bad simply with a sip. That’s why hand drip coffee is best paired with specialty coffee or single-origin coffee. Coffee beans must be of a certain quality to be worthy of brewing with this method.
Read more: What is Specialty Coffee?
Here are 5 things to know when you are looking for your beans:
Mainly divided into Arabica and Robusta, most of the coffee beans on the market are Arabica, which is also the most popular variety. Arabica has a mild, aromatic and acidic taste. It has a high quality and a relatively high price.
Robusta has the characteristics of disease resistance and pest resistance, strong taste, bitterness, and strong caffeine. It is mainly used for blend coffee or instant coffee.
Due to the environment, climate, soil and other factors, coffee beans will have different flavours. Generally speaking, origins below tend to have a similar flavour:
- Ethiopia and Kenya: bright fruitiness and acidity;
- Brazil and Colombia: full of nutty flavour;
- Costa Rica and Peru: balanced and sweet;
- El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras: full of herbal taste and sweetness;
- Indonesia and Myanmar: heavy, thick flavor with a deep and long aftertaste.
It is mainly divided into three types:
- Washed Process: tends to be acidic and has a cleaner and fresher taste;
- Honey Process: has more sweetness;
- Dry/ Natural Process: Smooth, strong body and rich layers.
4. Roasting Level
The level of roasting is rarely mentioned in the Netherlands, and it must be distinguished with the naked eye or precision instruments. But in general, beans for drip coffee are usually light roast to medium roast.
Light roasting can retain the original characteristics and flavor of coffee, generally refreshing, with bright fruitiness and acidity; medium roasting generally has obvious caramel, hazelnut or chocolate-like sweetness; dark roasting has a carbonized, smoky flavor, and the bitterness is obvious.
I'm not a fan of dark roast coffee, but I am willing to try it now and then. It feels very special to me, a bit like smoking, a bit like out-of-body.
5. Roasting Date
"Grind and brew immediately" is the truth, but we should also pay attention to the “degassing” of coffee. Freshly roasted coffee beans need at least three days to two weeks of degassing before drinking. There is a lot of gas in roasted coffee beans, and too much gas will cause uneven extraction and insufficient flavor.
Though, the absence of gas means that the coffee beans are no longer fresh. We recommend that you start drinking a few days in advance and slowly notice the changes in the coffee beans.
When you have learnt about its variety, origin, processing method and roasting level, you will be able find the coffee beans that suit you.
This is a process of learning, experimenting, and having fun!