Coffee Labels - Whats the deal?

How-To

We have all been affected by the global coffee craze - we've seen Starbucks and the like pop up on every corner - now being replaced by Hipster Craft Coffee joints and Starbucks Reserve. But with this new era of coffee culture comes added complexity - I am not sure if you've had the chance to look at a craft coffee label lately, but its contents can be quite intimidating.

Lets try to simply tell the tale for Today's coffee expectations;

Blend vs Single Origin

A 'single origin' coffee comes from a specific region or farm - sometimes referred to as a 'single estate' coffee, rather a blend is a mixture of multiple origin coffees. A 'micro lot', also worth noting will come from small sections on a particular farm. 

Single origins tend to dabble in higher quality coffees due to the unique flavors and aromas produced by the region and local species of coffee plant. 

A blend, on the other hand, happens when the Roaster believes two coffees have more to offer combined as a blend rather than as a single origin. 

 Roast

Light, Medium, Dark, City, City Plus, Vienna, Blonde, Breakfast, French, Italian...

Lets connect the dots;

Light Roast - aka 'blonde' or 'City-City+' roasts are known to be fruity and acidic in flavor and aroma, highest in caffeine content and more complex profile, many roasters opt fo light or medium-light roasts.

Medium Roast - aka 'Full City' or 'Full City+' for a darker medium roast. Think balanced, smooth, other roast elements that don't overwhelm the coffee's natural flavors.

Dark Roast - aka 'Vienna', 'French' and 'Italian' - you can expect to taste the roasting process more intimately. Often described as toasty, bitter notes with a full body. 

Coffee Roast Levels Guide

Processing Method

Coffee is actually the seed of a fruit; a berry, often times referred to as a 'cherry' for its round shape and typically bright red appearance when ripe. Not too hard to imagine, the sticky layers of this fruit can be quite challenging to remove, suggesting there is a process to separate the seed from the rind. Coffee processing can affect the flavor of the coffee; 

Wet/Washed: The flesh is removed with water then the leftover seed is dried. This adds very little flavor to the coffee, you can really taste the coffee's natural profile.

Dry/Natural: Fruit is slowly dried under sunlight - this method enhances the sweet fruity characteristics. An environmentally friendly option.

Honey & Pulped Natural: Dried with varying amounts of the cherry still attached to the seeds. When more cherry is attached, the resulting beans will become sweeter.

Elevation / Altitude

 Not all roasters will advertise elevation, but this can have a direct impact on the complexity of a coffee.

When comparing two farms in the same region, the one at a higher altitude tends to have cooler climates. For this reason, a higher m.a.s.l. has been interpreted as better-quality coffee. Be careful, though: this can easily trick you. Remember that 1,100 m.a.s.l. will be cooler in Brazil than in Ecuador, for example.

Altitude – it’s useful information when understood in context. Use it to compare two coffees from the same region but don’t write off a low-altitude coffee until you’ve tried it. It might just surprise you.

Tasting Notes

The notes passed from the master roaster to call out usually three main taste/smell characteristics about the coffee after it has been roasted and tasted.

Roast Date

We usually recommend using and drinking coffee beans within a couple weeks of the roasting date.


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