A Coffee Shop Owner’s Guide to Coffee Beans

A Coffee Shop Owner’s Guide to Coffee Beans

When selecting the type of coffee you want to have in your coffee shop, there are several factors that contribute to the flavor of the final product to consider. Everything is about the bean, of course, but the type of bean, the world region where it was grown and the roast type are all a factor in the flavor of the brewed coffee.

In this article you will learn:

  • How the bean variety affects flavor
  • How the location where the bean is grown affects taste and aroma
  • How the roasting of the bean enhances the flavor of the coffee

When planning the menu for a coffee shop, it is important to offer a wide selection of blends and flavors coffees to your customers. While some may enjoy a blend that is light and accompanied with sugar and cream, others may prefer their coffee to be the same color and consistency of oil. If your customer is unfamiliar with the blends you offer, it is important to be familiar with the different variables that affect flavor so you can suggest the right blend for that customer.

Bean Variety

Bean variety is very important to the quality of the coffee you serve. There are two bean varieties: Coffee Arabica and Coffee Robusta (scientific name: Coffee Canephora). As a coffee shop owner, it is important that you only purchase Arabica beans. These beans are what are used to produce about seventy percent of the coffee today and are of higher quality than Robusta.

Coffee Arabica

  • Indigenous to Ethiopia and Yemen but is now grown all over the world
  • Believed to be the first cultivated species of coffee
  • Contains less caffeine than Robusta varieties
  • Must be grown at 3,000 feet above sea level
  • Climate must be tropical and humid (40-59 inches of rain annually)
  • Temperature must stay around 68°F for ideal growing conditions
  • Depending on the weather, coffee trees may be planted and harvested at all times of the year, or there may be a specific planting and harvesting season.

Coffee Robusta

  • Originates from Africa and is grown primarily in Brazil, Vietnam and Africa
  • Lower grade of coffee bean variety
  • Can be grown at any elevation
  • Growing temperatures can be more flexible, though a humid, tropical climate is still required
  • Twice as much caffeine as other varieties
  • Used primarily in instant coffee or canned coffee grounds
  • Has a greater crop yield than Arabica trees due to its resistance to disease and pests

World Region

Not surprisingly, different regions of the world produce different flavors and aromas in a bean, and it is important to know the difference between what types of tastes and smells each bean is going to put forth when it is brewed. The main regions of coffee-growing in the world are the Americas (South and Central American Countries), Exotics (Jamaica and Hawaii), the Pacific (Sumatra and Java) and Africa (Kenya and Ethiopia). The regions, climates and soil type each result in very different flavors. Below is a guide to help decide which areas will best fill out your selection of coffee.

Region Body Acidity Flavor
Brazilian Medium Mild Dry, spicy, sweet, lingering
Colombian Medium-Full Medium Rich, sweet, caramelly
Costa Rican Full Subtle Rich, smooth, sweet, delicate, smoky
Ethiopian Full Mild-Medium Rich, spicy, gamey, hints of cocoa, winey
Guatemalan Heavy Medium-High Rich, chocolately, soft, mild, subtle, smoky
Haitian Heavy Mild Full, winey, sweet, rich, mellow
Hawaiian Kona Medium Medium-High Rich, winey
Jamaican Blue Mountain Full Medium Well-balanced, pleasant, lingering
Java Medium-Heavy High Exotic, mellow, smooth, musty, smoky, winey
Kenyan Medium High Intense, floral, winey, lemony
Mexican Medium-Light Low-Medium Thin, dry, sweet, hazelnut
Monsoon Malabar Full Low Mellow, full
Nicaraguan Light Low-Medium Mild, pleasant
Sumatran Full-Heavy Medium Exotic, earthy, musty, natural
Tanzanian Kilimanjara Heavy Delicate Rich
Yemeni Medium Delicate Dry, sweet, mild, winey

Roast Type

Coffee beans are not ready to drink until after they have been roasted properly. They are picked green and sent to their destination before they are roasted to ensure the beans are at maximum freshness when they are served. Choosing a certain roast will give you different flavors than other roasts.

American Roast: Also referred to as a regular roast, the beans are medium-roasted for a fairly moderate flavor that is not too strong, not too mild.

French Roast: This is a strong roast that comes from heavily-roasted beans. The brew will appear deep, chocolate brown and have a very strong flavor.

Italian Roast: This roast is used predominantly for espresso drinks because of its strong flavor and brown-black appearance.

European Roast: This is a blend of roasts consisting of around two-thirds heavy roast and one-third regular roast.

Viennese Roast: Also a blend of roasts, this consists of one-third heavy roast and two-thirds regular roast.

By taking time to learn the different flavors and aromas produced by different bean varieties, regional types and roast types, you can learn to produce some very unique blends of coffee for your café. This will increase the amount of regular customers you have if you are able to create several unique blends that appeal to consumers.

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