A simple premise you might want to bear in mind when approaching this guide - the best coffee is the one you like the most. Enjoy it.
Where does good coffee come from?
Simple answer is everywhere. There is a myriad of terroirs, microclimates, varieties, processing methods, traditions, and variables out of our control that come together to produce great coffee.
Some of them are replicable year after year, some of them are not - like rainfall, or sunshine. Therefore paying close attention to small things that matter and directly affect beans’ quality is something of uttermost importance when selecting coffee. We have put together a list of elements we consider relevant when the decision making process is upon us:
- Controllable variables
Variety - Coffee is divided in two main families - Arabica and Robusta. Grossly speaking and preferences aside, the latter is more resistant to weather and diseases than the former, which is considered of better quality. Among the varieties that have been creating the biggest buzz lately are Bourbon, Pacamara, Geisha, Blue Mountain, Mokka, Mayaguez, Caturra, Laurina, and Maragogype.
Soil - There is two categories in this aspect - physical and chemical. Without going into nitty-gritty details both categories affect the beans in different ways and, therefore, the cup quality.
Agronomy - Such things like pest and disease management, tree density, plant nutrition, and soil type affect bean development. This is directly related to quality and appearance - both inherent attributes of good coffee.
Geography - According to coffee connoisseurs high altitude coffee is associated with better quality beans. Coffee can grow up to 7,200 ft. above sea level. Close to the Equator - where coffee beans are cultivated - bright sunny days combined with chilly night winds bring up the sweetness inside the coffee cherry.
Harvesting - When to pick up the cherries, color, ripeness level, and which ones should be discarded has a huge effect in cup quality.
Processing Method - The way cherries are sorted; how are they transported within facilities; how the pulp is removed; their fermentation type, time and temperature; and the drying method as well as the time. All of these factors play a very important role in the process of achieving an outstanding cup of coffee.
- Brewing - Different brewing methods bring up different coffee attributes - this means a certain type of coffee can taste differently depending on how is brewed. As a matter of fact, it is a phenomenal way to get different notes and traces from your favorite brand or roast. Make sure to try them all, they are worth the effort.
- Random variables
Weather and atmospheric conditions - As we all know, weather is already hard to predict, let alone to replicate. Hence, expecting the same cup of coffee crop after crop is equivalent to expecting the same wine harvest after harvest - only achievable through blending and overroasting.
Roasting - Our Head Roaster’s job is to make sure he maintains beans’ original attributes throughout the process (i.e. soil to cup). That means he has to constantly tweak temperature settings and adjust roasting time depending on cupping results, humidity levels, batch size, et al making sure the roast profile is the appropriate.
- Mood - Finally, the ultimate part of the equation. Make sure your coffee matches it so you can enjoy every single drop of it.
That being said, you can rest assured our team is making the best effort going out of their way to bring you great coffee. Wherever it is being grown, we’ll make our way there to bring it to you. White Tale Coffee’s quality pledge. As simple as that.