A Coffee Blog

How to buy coffee

Here’s what to do so you can buy quality coffee with confidence

Should you choose a single-origin Rwandan coffee that promises particles of chocolate and tangerine?

Or is an organic Brazilian blend better?

Do you need to know how tall beans grow?

Is low-acid light roast coffee strong enough to keep you awake in the morning?

Whether you like it or not, you will be bombarded with alternatives when buying coffee.

Not every label is a guarantee of quality, but the more the producer or roaster can tell you about the coffee, the better. A lack of information is probably more problematic than an abundance of information.

Here’s what to do so you can buy quality coffee with confidence. 

Buy coffee beans

First and foremost: Buy coffee beans.


Grinding the coffee just before brewing is crucial for an excellent cup of coffee.

If ground coffee is your only alternative, ask for it to be ground for you at the time you buy it. Freshness is most important.

Where to shop

It’s not like there’s a shortage of coffees in the supermarket, but it’s up to you to sift through the chaff.

When you buy directly from a coffee roaster, you get knowledgeable staff and the opportunity to taste. The coffee is also probably fresher and fresher.

Say no to loose coffee in bags

Air, light, heat and moisture are harmful when it comes to coffee. So don’t buy from sacks.

Instead, look for coffee in tightly sealed packages. Many of them have convenient built-in flaps, releasing the natural gases of the coffee without letting air inside.

Check the date

Pay attention to the baking date, which should ideally be marked on the package, and buy as soon as possible before that date. The taste is lost quickly after you open it.

Coffee that is high quality processed well, and relatively fresh compared to when it was brewed should taste really good in the first 30 days after it was roasted.

The coffee beans from the baker may have been roasted as early as that week. At the grocery store, roasting dates like 2-3 months are more likely.

Baking level

Roast levels are based on how long and at what temperature the beans are roasted. There is a prevailing theory that a dark roast means a lower-quality coffee.

After all, the darker the roast, the smokier the flavour, which may or may not be to your liking because roasting eliminates moisture and caramelizes some of the coffee’s inherent sugars.

Countries of Origin

There are dozens of coffee varieties from around the world, and they will all taste different. This is the simplest way to think about where the coffee is from and how that factor matters.

You can make generalizations about the taste of coffee from different regions, but there are many other factors involved. The altitude, the composition of the soils, the amounts of rainfall, and everything that is put into the land where the coffee grows.

The type of coffee bean matters – and one of the two main types, Arabica or Robusta, is generally considered much higher quality. If you’re buying speciality coffee and not a ready-made blend from the supermarket, you can bet you’re dealing with Arabica.

Other Definitions

“Single origin” means that the coffee originates from one place, but this is quite a fuzzy phrase. Large coffee roasters may label coffee from Ethiopia as a single origin.

The phrase is more meaningful if a specific farm or cooperative is named.

The label “certified organic” refers to coffee grown without pesticides or synthetic fertilizers.

“Fair trade” is an external certification that insists on decent pay and humane working conditions for those working on farms where coffee is grown.

“Direct trade” takes these criteria even further by connecting bakers and farmers.

None of these labels by themselves automatically mean better quality, but they do reveal more about the manufacturer and may be more appealing to you based on your value system. It depends on you.

Wet or dry process

What we call coffee beans are green seeds in the fruit of the coffee tree. The way the beans are processed plays a role in taste and quality.

If you see the processing method listed on the label, take it as a good sign.

In the wet or “myth” process, which is the most common, the fruit is passed through a machine that separates the husk from the beans, which are then fermented in water so that the rest of the sticky particles on them fall off and the beans are dried.

Fermentation takes from a few hours to a few days. Changes in taste occur during this period.

In the dry process, the fruit is allowed to dry naturally before being pitted to remove the seeds, which imparts “a very specific fruit flavour,” he says.

How high?

You may see the altitude marked on the label. Suppress the urge to look at the ceiling in shock, because it matters too.

Coffee generally grows better at certain altitudes. The higher it is, the more variable the range of day and night temperatures, the longer the coffee plant matures—and the more time it has to extract nutrients from the soil and develop its flavour.

This doesn’t mean that all highland coffees are better, or that you’ll like their taste, but it’s an extra, sometimes important, detail about who’s producing your coffee.


At home, keep coffee in a vacuum-sealed, opaque container, away from sunlight. It’s okay to keep it in the package you bought it in, but keep it as tight as possible.

If you use a separate bowl or container, be sure to wipe it with a dry cloth before refilling.

No need to store your coffee in the freezer. Moisture will eventually seep in and ruin the flavour.

In addition, it is desirable to drink this coffee, and not stock up on it and hoard it. As long as you know how to prepare it, it is best to make the coffee while it is still fresh and of the best quality and taste!

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