For general population of this part of Asia, coffee drinking is about getting the “strongest” coffee out there, often with sugar and milk. But there is a lot to enjoy with your cuppa than asking for “kopi kao kao”! This guide wants to show you choosing the best coffee that suites your taste can bring a lot of joy in exploring the world of coffee, and more specifically on specialty coffee.
Arabica or Robusta?
There are 2 main classification of coffee, Arabica and Robusta. Robusta is what normally what served in local coffee shops known as kopitiam in Malaysia and Singapore. Arabica are served in Italian coffee and speciality coffee, which they carry a sweeter note and higher acidity.
What’s all these info on the bag?
So when you buy coffee bean from us and any other place you will see a label such as this
Compared to Robusta, Arabica coffee beans sold with a number of information on its packaging. Let’s break them down to a few category
- Freshness of the coffee - normally on the packaging it stated the date or month when is it roasted. Its not to say that a coffee bean that’s roasted yesterday taste better, sometimes you have to let the beans rest, which can be few days to a couple of weeks. If you don’t plan to consume your coffee bean immediately it is best to keep in fridge until you open it. Once a coffee bean packaging is open, you would want to consume it within a month or two.
- Roasting level, each level of roasting will produce slightly different taste profile, and they also affect the best way of brewing the coffee.
- Light roast - the colour of the bean is lighter with a strong fruity smell, most time there is an acidic taste with the coffee. Most of the time light roast coffee bean is best hand brewed.
- Medium roast - The appearance is medium brown with slight sweet profile than the light roast beans, it also have a better balance bitterness to it. Depends on your taste profile, medium to medium dark roast are suited for a wide range of brewing form espresso to hand brew.
- Dark roast - Dark black in colour, dark roasted coffee will not have acidic after taste to it, and they are normally meant for espresso brewing. Sometimes hand brew or Moka pot will work but you have to adjust a coarser grind so that it is not over battery and lose its nutty flavour.
- Origins of the coffee - the more expensive a coffee bean, the more detail it is on the origin, down to which farm it came from. But at least for most of the coffee we are selling, we will tell you the region and country where our beans came from.
- Africa - Coffee originally came from this part of the world, or more specifically its Ethiopia. As such Ethiopia produces some of the best coffee in the world. Other notable African countries famous for their coffee produce are Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda. Many coffee beans from Africa have more fruity and flowery flavour to them.
- Latin America countries like Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica has rich and futile soil for coffee growing, together with right rain level. You will find Central and South American coffee has chocolaty and sweet flavour profile like nuts and caramel.
- Asia - mainly concentrate in Indonesia and part of East Malaysia, Asian coffees tend to have a dark and bold taste profile. Grown in volcanic ash, amongst chilis and spices, Indonesian coffees are prized for their unique, unmistakable flavours, velvety mouthfeel, and earthy tones
- Flavour Profile - this is description of smell as well as taste of a coffee bean. As mentioned above, the taste profile of a coffee bean is determined by the roast level and the origin. Some taste profiles are pretty complex, like winey and honey taste which as beginner you may not taste it exactly on first few try. Certain taste profiles are also more obvious based on the way you brew the coffee, as well as the time you rest the bean after roasting. Normally coffee roasters will note down taste profile of their beans thru a cup tasting session, where many different types of beans are tasted and compared together. In a cup tasting session, coffee are normal brewed without filter or machine, this process gives them better opportunity to bring out the taste of each bean.
Buying whole bean?
Normally we recommend you to buy whole bean so that its smell and taste can be retain longer. Ground coffee should always consumed between 2-4 weeks, which whole bean can be kept sometimes up to 3 months depends on the roast. Whole bean also gives you better coffee making experience in grinding on your own, and match it with the brewing method you prefer, you can invest in a manual grinder which starts from RM40 all the way to one that’s used by professionals that cost thousands of dollars. The difference is the ground consistency through out the life span of the grinder.
When you order beans from us, you can decide on the ground level you like based on the grew method. We separate them to
- Espresso (Finest)
- Aeropress (Less fine)
- Hand Drip (Coarse)
- French Press (More Coarse)
Each level of grinding will ensure optimum extraction of coffee based on the method of brewing . But like we mentioned above, there is no exact specific rule on the grind level and you can play around with your grinder if you purchase whole beans.
Hope this article serves as a beginner guide for those who just venture into specialty coffee brewing and move away from instant coffee or capsule machine. I hope your adventure coffee brewing will bring you a lot of learning experience and hopefully along the way you will make new friends.