There's more to making a coffee than just adding hot water to the grounds. To know how to choose the best coffee beans, we must first understand the process. What’s next after farmers pick the coffee cherries? Does it instantly turn into the coffee beans we buy in the market? In this article, we’ll go over the coffee processing methods and the roast levels to get a better perspective on choosing the ideal coffee bean.
How to Choose the Best Coffee Beans for Espresso
The best coffee beans for espresso don’t come right away. Coffee cherries must be processed before they can be roasted and brewed to perfection. So, here are the coffee processing methods and roast levels for you to know:
Knowing the Coffee Processing Methods
To learn more about choosing the best coffee beans, one must know how farmers process coffee. The flavor of an espresso shot is directly related to how farmers treated the coffee right after the harvest. So, before the cherries become coffee beans, farmers process them in one of two ways: the natural or the washed method.
● Natural Processing
The natural way is the most traditional method of processing coffee. In this way, farmers harvest the ripened coffee cherries, put them on the drying rack, and leave them under the sun to dry. The coffee cherry is slowly cooked off by the sun, allowing the bean to retain much of its fruity flavor. This process could take a few weeks and requires constant upkeep, such as turning the drying beds every day and covering them every night.
After the cherries are completely dry, farmers remove the coffee beans and mill them to remove any fruit skin. Natural-processed coffee has a more berry-like taste. This is because the bean is in contact with the fruit for longer periods. Sun drying also helps to bring out the coffee's fruity undertones. For the same reason, natural coffee has a more fermented flavor than washed coffee.
● Washed Processing
The washing process gives the coffee a subtle flavor that isn't as fruity as naturally processed coffee. Before washing, farmers use a depulper to separate the fruit skin from the coffee beans. After depulping, the beans still have a layer of mucilage, a sugary, sticky substance that covers the whole bean. The sticky beans undergo a fermentation process where they ferment for one or two days. Fermentation is helpful because it will help soften the fruit mucilage, making it easier to remove in the washing process. The sugars in the mucilage are also released during fermentation. This creates a delicious coffee taste that helps us choose the best coffee beans for espresso.
Once the beans are fermented, the mucilage is removed throughout the washing process. Farmers use water to remove the mucilage by repeatedly washing the beans until they are no longer sticky. After that, the washed coffee goes through the drying process. Depending on the farm and the area, the beans are dried on parchment under the sun or by machines.
While the coffee processing doesn’t determine the coffee bean roast types, many artisan roasters favor washed coffee for its lower acidity. Natural coffee lacks that consistency. Some coffee drinkers might not like how naturally processed coffee tastes with its berry-like, fruity flavors.
Considering the Types of Roasting Levels for Coffee Beans
Coffee beans go through roasting to become the crunchy little beans we all know and love. Now, before you experiment with your home espresso machine, it’s essential to be familiar with the coffee bean roast types. This is because each roast level has a different effect on the final flavor of your coffee.
The color of the beans determines the roast levels after going through the roasting process. Here are the four roasting levels:
● Light Roast
● Medium Roast
The medium roast gives the best of both worlds for a coffee roast that has a nice balance of acidity and body.
When it comes to this coffee bean roast type, the coffee beans turn medium brown after the second crack stage. This roasting stage occurs at temperatures between 410° and 430° Fahrenheit. While there is no discernible oil, the flavor is bolder than that of a light roast. The lower acidity of medium roasts than light roasts makes them ideal for making espresso.
● Medium-Dark Roast
Also known as Full City, coffee lovers often choose the medium-dark roast as the best coffee bean for espresso.
At this point, the roast's flavor predominates over the coffee bean's natural aromas and flavors. The beans reach the middle of the second-crack stage at temperatures between 430° and 450° Fahrenheit. This gives the beans an oily, dark brown appearance and a low-acid flavor profile that’s bold and heavy.
● Dark Roast
Dark roast coffee frequently has a richer, smokier, almost burnt flavor. This coffee bean roast level isn’t commonly used in specialty coffee shops. True coffee connoisseurs know that dark-roasted blends are best brewed using traditional methods like French presses.
Now that you have a foundational knowledge of the coffee bean roast types, you’ll have a better perspective on how to choose the best coffee beans. There are lots of great-tasting coffee beans around the world for you to try. But if you like coffee and are just starting to get better at making it, we suggest trying premium Philippine coffee beans. They’re easy to find, and you’ll be able to practice with different brewing methods!
The Right Coffee Bean Roast Depends on You
Like falling in love, you can fully appreciate the magic and satisfaction of a perfect cup of coffee once you've found the perfect coffee bean roast. Knowing what roast level suits your taste may take time. There's no need to be concerned with that, as knowledge of coffee brewing improves one's understanding of coffee bean roast levels. So, enjoy your way of learning how to choose the best coffee beans!