Frequently Asked Questions
Coffee to me tastes bitter unless I load it up with milk and sugar, does all coffee taste that way?
First of all, there are more words to describe coffee than there are ones to describe wine, bitter should never be one of them. I don't drink my coffee black either. That being said, good quality green beans that are properly roasted and then ground and brewed within a very short amount of time should have a very clean and fresh taste. Time and exposure to air are two things that will turn any coffee into a very unpleasant experience. At Berries To Beans we package our coffee as soon as the beans have cooled in sealed bags with one way valves. The valve allows the coffee to release co2 gases as it reaches its peak flavor without allowing exposure to air. Once sealed in these bags the coffee will remain fresh for a quite some time until opened. The coffee reaches it full sweetness and flavor about 24 to 48 hours after it is roasted.
Here are some other factors that could cause coffee to be bitter. Coffee left on a burner. This will literally cook the coffee and give it a sour and bitter taste which no amount of milk or sugar will fix. If possible use a brewing system that brews directly in a thermos and does not sit on a heating element.
Another reason could be too fine a grind. Many people think they can get more mileage out of the coffee by grinding it fine and using less, not true. The grind should be determined by the type of brewing system used. The most common type is an auto drip. If you are grinding your own coffee set your grinder for that type of brewing system. Coffee that is brewed too strong will also be bitter. If you like your coffee strong use a dark roast and a normal amount of coffee. Increasing the amount of a poor quality, stale coffee will only result in a poor quality, stale tasting and bitter brew.
What's the best way to brew it?
For the best cup of coffee always use cold filtered water to start. Never use hot water in an auto drip coffee maker. I also suggest storing unused coffee in an air-tight container, preferably grinding just enough coffee per use.
A simple blade grinder can be purchased for less than $30.00. If you spend a little more and purchase a burr grinder you will be able to get a more consistent and even grind. Most coffee experts recommend 2 tablespoons per six ounces of water. I suggest starting there but then try decreasing the amount in small increments until the brew strength is just where you want it. You can add water to coffee that is too strong but you can' fix it if its too weak. You will find that coffee as fresh as ours will not only taste better, but will last longer, as you will need to use less coffee to achieve the perfect cup. I am very satisfied with using 1 rounded tablespoon of ground coffee per 8oz cup.
I've heard that drinking coffee is bad for you. Is that true?
Current studies have shown that coffee is very high in antioxidants, both caffeinated and decaffeinated. Studies have also shown that drinking as much as 6-8 cups a day are not harmful to your health. On the other hand if a person is sensitive to the effects of caffeine or has a medical condition that could be made worse by caffeine, they should consider drinking less or drinking decaffeinated coffee. Ask your family doctor if you are uncertain.
Should I store my coffee in the refrigerator, or freezer?
Since I keep my coffee in whole bean form and grind per use, I simply store any unused coffee in an airtight container. I use a mason jar for mine, that way I can see the wonderful color of the beans. I then store it in a cool spot out of sunlight, and believe me it doesn't last me long enough to get stale. If you purchase your coffee already ground it will not keep as long as coffee kept whole bean, so be sure to keep it in an airtight container.
I do store my ground decaf in an airtight container in the freezer as I don't brew very much decaf. The argument goes back and forth about whether to store coffee in the refrigerator/ freezer or not. My suggestion would be not to unless you drink so little that otherwise the coffee would become stale.
What's the best coffee?
That is a purely subjective. I like what I like but you may not like it at all. If you have been drinking coffee for many years you probably already have a favorite coffee. I love to try new coffee from regions that I have never tried before. Kona and Jamaican coffees are touted as some of the best and the prices reflect that, costing upwards of $25 or more per pound.
The largest producer of coffee is Brazil, much of which is grown on huge farms and harvested by machine. Many of these coffees go into the more commonly available grocery store brands. Colombia is next with the name being synonymous with coffee. The best coffees, however, come from the smaller family operated farms, where the berries are hand picked, washed and hulled, and finally, the actual coffee beans inside the berries are dried for export.
Since crops can vary from year to year, the same coffee offerings today may be quite different the following year. We rely on our coffee supplier to search out and select only the best, 100% Arabica coffee beans. Each coffee growing region produces its own unique varieties. Many factors determine the final harvest including weather, elevation, soil, and how the beans are processed just to name a few. I have had and loved coffees from Indonesia, Africa, Central and South America, and many other parts of the world. Since I do add 1/2 and 1/2 and sweetener I prefer a darker roast. Some of my favorites come from Sumatra, Costa Rica and Colombia. If you aren't sure I recommend trying a med roasted Colombian which will usually have a milder, and richer flavor and is good black or with cream and sugar. Feeling adventurous, go for the Ethiopian, dark and earthy with a very strong finish. If you want it from the source, most say that Ethiopia is where coffee was first discovered.