Sunday, January 06, 2008

Buying Green Coffee Beans

There are an increasing amount of vendors of green beans for home-roasters. "Information" is what I look for.
Freshness- Do they list the crop year or do they say that all of their beans are recent crop unless identified as aged. Do they state when they received the beans, because this will help you know how long you might be able to continue to store some at home. Do they tell you anything about how they store their beans?
Bean Details- I need more than the word "Colombian". Farm or Cooperative name, region, elevation, soil type, varietal, how processed, bean size or mixed sizes, chemical usage and amount of defect beans are all very useful bits of information.
Cupping Notes- Every coffee is unique and cupping notes can describe the individual characteristics of each coffee.
As stated by the SCAA (Specialty Coffee Assoc. of America):

"Cupping is a method of systematically evaluating the aroma and taste of coffee beans. It is often used by growers, buyers and roasters to assess the quality of a particular coffee sample. Proper cupping requires the adherence to an exacting set of brewing standards and a formal step-by-step evaluation process. A trained cupper generally looks at six characteristics:
  • Fragrance - the smell of beans after grinding
  • Aroma - the smell of ground-up beans after being steeped in water
  • Taste - the flavor of the coffee
  • Nose - the vapors released by the coffee in the mouth
  • Aftertaste - the vapors and flavors that remain after swallowing
  • Body - the feel of the coffee in the mouth"
Some local roasters will sell you green beans and should be willing to answer questions. Email on-line vendors if needed information is not on their site. "links") is an example of a *great* green coffee bean online vendor! Detailed information, quality and integrity.

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