How I Choose My Coffee Beans – Key Points

Last Updated on May 16, 2023 by Barry Gray

I love coffee. I’m sure I’ve mentioned that at various times already. However, one thing I don’t love is the variety of coffee beans and blends out there on the market. It just means I feel I have so many to choose from that it’s tough trying to work out which coffee beans I should go for. But don’t worry if you are in that same position. I’m going to help you out.

To choose, you need to understand the different tastes associated with various bean types. Decide if you prefer something more balanced or bitter according to your own individual tastes. Also, try a variety of coffee from different parts of the world while playing around with strengths. The fun part is you get to check out a lot of coffee before you can come to some sort of conclusion.

It’s so much fun working to narrow down your options when it comes to coffee. I’ve enjoyed so much coffee throughout my life, yet I still feel there’s so much to explore. So, this is what I do.

Explore Different Coffee Bean

tesco coffee beans example

The only way in which you will be able to discover your favorite coffee bean is to try as many as possible. I think this is the part I enjoy most of all and for obvious reasons.

But I also spice things up a bit by venturing to different suppliers, from my local supermarket to online traders of coffee beans and even to individual coffee shops that package and sell the coffee beans they brew in their shop.

Also, I ensure I pick up coffee beans from different parts of the world and various types of beans.

I know Arabica is the favorite bean worldwide, but it’s not the only one out there. Instead, also look for Robusta, Liberica, and Excelsa, as those four are the most popular coffee beans in the world.

Different beans that are grown in different locations and roasted in a unique way for that area will ultimately produce an end product that tastes slightly different every single time. 

With all of these possibilities, you can see why you need to explore to gain insight into which coffee beans are your favorite and those you would only really drink if pushed into doing so.

And yet, I know some coffee lovers will have noticed I mentioned my local supermarket, and you probably feel sick at the idea. After all, supermarkets sell coffee beans that have been produced en-masse, and some believe this won’t give a fair reflection of what coffee should really taste like.

However, while I cannot dispute that part entirely, I can say that picking up a number of different types of coffee at varying strengths will still help you ascertain the taste and flavor you prefer.

I know it may not be the best coffee around, but it’s a great place to start.

I find myself still doing this even after drinking coffee for more years than I care to remember. 

I Try the World of Coffee Beans

I’ve said how climate changes the way coffee tastes, but there are some general rules of thumb that I keep in mind if I decide I want to enjoy certain flavors in my coffee.

Generally, you will find coffee from Central and South America as coming with more of a chocolate like taste to it. It will often be sweeter as well.

However, African coffee is different. I experience African coffee as more floral and fruity than the darker South American coffee. I’m sure you can already see how that’s an entirely different taste just in those two areas.

And then there’s coffee from Asia. This has a tendency to come with more of an intense flavor, and there will be some nutty flavors thrown in for good measure. Again, this marks it out as different to the other two areas. 

But honestly, while I personally prefer the African option, it’s just fun checking out coffee from various countries and discovering how different they can taste.

Ultimately though, pay attention to where it comes from to have a basic understanding of what the flavor is going to be like. 

What Do the Different Roast Levels of Coffee Mean?

medium roast coffee beans example

As well as choosing different types of coffee beans, I also pay attention to the roast levels, and I’ll tell you why that’s important.

Different roast levels change the flavor, and it can do so in a distinct way. Roasting ranges from light to medium and to dark.

Light Roast

With a light roast, the bean is roasted until it effectively cracks, but the bean is still very light in color, and there’s not much body to the coffee.

Personally, it’s not my favorite, but I know some people prefer their coffee to just not be quite as heavy as it could have otherwise been.

But here’s a surprise for you.

People think you need to roast coffee beans to unlock the caffeine, and the misconception is that a darker roast will release more caffeine.

Well, that’s not true. Actually, it’s the complete opposite, so a light roast has more of a caffeine kick, and that’s perhaps something you want to check out if that’s what you want from your coffee. 

From a taste perspective, I usually find light roasts to have a bit more of a floral taste to them. This is something you then start to lose when you move to medium or dark roasts.

Plus, a light roast will often have more of an acidic taste, but the aroma emanating from a light roast could blow you off your feet.

Medium Roast

With a medium roast, you lose some of that acidity, and the bean starts to take on a bit of a sweeter taste to it. This is moving more into the realm of what I prefer. 

This coffee has a fuller body to it, and you do start to get a hint of the taste of the roasting process as well. That completely changes the taste, and you will pick up more of a sweet hint to the coffee that just wasn’t there before with the light roast.

Medium roast is the most popular roast in the United States when it comes to coffee. I think this is because it does strike the middle ground regarding taste, aroma, acidity and overall flavor.

It’s the kind of coffee that most people would at least be able to tolerate, even if it’s not entirely to their taste. So, if you feel unsure about things, medium roast could be perfect.

Dark Roast

Dark roast is easy to identify as the beans have almost a shiny appearance and are significantly darker in color.

Dark roast can also be known as second crack, as it involves roasting the beans up to the point where they crack a second time. A light roast is the point where they crack for the first time.

This leads to coffee with a real bitterness to it, so if that’s what you prefer, then dark roast is what you should be drinking. 

But these beans also lack acidity, and there can be almost a sense of oil coating your throat if you pay attention. There is also a natural smoothness about it, and that’s something I tend to look out for.

Personally, I don’t like my coffee to be too jarring when I drink it. 

Read Descriptions Of the Coffee Beans

coffee packet describing tasting notes of the coffee

If you thought it was only wine that would delve into describing the flavor and taste by talking about fruity undertones or how it has a chocolate or nutty taste to it, then think again.

Coffee beans do the same thing, and I’d pay attention to what the descriptions say. They tell you so much about what to expect from the flavor.

Now, I know when I started reading them that I felt they were a bit over the top. How could it have hints of herbs? But it would be best if you looked beyond that.

I mentioned earlier how coffee from the Americas will generally have more of a chocolate taste to it, while African coffee is more fruity. However, that is something you will learn just by reading the description.

Try Different Drinks

different coffee cups on tray

I’m the type of guy that does not have an individual personal preference for a particular kind of drink when it comes to my coffee. It all depends on what I feel like at that time.

After all, a Latte is entirely different to an Americano!

But this is also where understanding what different beans have to offer can make a difference in how much you can enjoy a particular drink.

Take the espresso as a prime example.

For most individuals, the best beans for an espresso are Arabica or Robusta, which should be in a medium or dark roast. However, if you love a Cappuccino, then drop the medium roast and instead focus on a dark roast with a preference for an Italian blend if possible.

But I do suggest trying beans from around the world and using them to make a variety of drinks and see how it balances out for your palate.

You will be amazed at how it can change from more of a milky coffee through to a double espresso, even when using the same bean. 

My Key Tips For Choosing Coffee Beans

I know I’ve covered a number of different points here regarding choosing coffee beans, so here are a few key areas you should focus on when trying to decide.

Also, this is the exact process I use when it comes to testing out a new coffee.

  • Be prepared to experiment. You have a lot of options, so use them
  • Try different roast levels
  • Lighter roasts have more acidity than dark roasts
  • Dark roasts are smoother to the taste
  • Try different drinks with different beans to see the difference in taste
  • Learn more about different regional variations 
  • Don’t forget to use supermarket coffee to help you out

Choosing coffee beans is quite experimental. However, at least it’s a tasty experiment to carry out, which is a fantastic thing in my book. 

To Conclude

That is how I choose my coffee beans. It has undoubtedly allowed me to eliminate some beans that just don’t sit right with my taste buds. But as I said, part of the fun of coffee is exploring new tastes, so I would certainly advise you to do that as much as possible.