And with good reason.
Here’s the deal. Everyone has their own version of ‘good coffee’. Mine just happens to be better.
Phase 1: The Beans
Did you know there are two types of coffee beans?
Arabica and robusta beans vary greatly in their cultivation and growing method, quality and taste. This is why you can’t walk into a Starbucks and expect it to taste like Folgers. That cup of coffee you’re used to– it’s most likely low-grade, impure and bitter.
Robusta beans are in your Folgers and other commonly bought brands. The price is lower because the quality is lower. Usually they are mixed with some arabica beans to help fade out the bitterness, but a coffee snob can always tell. These are the beans you could probably throw out of your car window and they would grow on the side of the highway. They’re easier to grow and they can produce about 2-3 pounds of beans per year, which contributes to the higher quantity over quality rate, since arabica beans can only produce about one pound a year. They can also grow in many more conditions than an arabica bean can. They don’t need as much attention.
Arabica beans are high quality, spoiled brats. They will only grow between a certain temperature range, at a certain altitude range and you have to give them the proper amount of time before they’re ready. We’re talking three to five years before you can have any beans, and an arabica plant only produces about one pound a year; however, the same plant can produce beans for up to thirty years. That means there is a farmer out there growing and cultivating coffee plants every day just to get one pound off of each plant. So keep in mind you’re not just paying for high quality, you’re paying for high quality farming as well. These beans don’t have to be blended or mixed with other beans to have a good, high quality taste. They are the best of the best.
Phase 2: The Roasting
This is where Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts duke it out.
DD and Starbucks both use arabica beans, but then what’s the difference? It’s the roasting process. To keep it simple, I’ll explain it like this: Starbucks roasts their beans longer than DD. This doesn’t mean that Starbucks coffee is necessarily better (although this coffee snob thinks so), but what it does mean is DD will be a good choice for everyone who is used to robusta beans and wants higher quality without bringing out super earthy notes. (Read: a wider range of taste.)
Phase 3: The Taste
I love to try new coffee, but I’m extremely judgmental. I’m not a coffee snob because my coffee comes packaged nicely, from a trendy coffee shop or with a great added flavor; I’m picky because I know the process. I know the beans. I know the difference in flavors of hard, earthy and sweet coffee; acidic or rich aroma; heaviness and texture of the body. This is what makes me picky. It’s more than just a ‘that’s weak’ or ‘that’s strong’ taste to me. I won’t bore you with all the definitions of coffee tasting terms, but there is quite a long list. You should try sitting down with friends sometime and using a french press to try a few different coffees– you may be surprised with what you like.
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