BEAN BASICS

coffee bean

If coffee's your thing, Kevin Price has you covered with these great java tips.

​What should I look for when purchasing coffee?

​When purchasing coffee, you want to purchase the freshest coffee available to ensure the richest flavor. Generally, you can tell if the beans are freshly roasted just by looking at them. Darker roasted coffee beans should have an oily sheen if they are fresh, lighter roasted coffee beans will only have some of the oils on their surface. If the beans don't have any oil on their surface, then they are likely not fresh-roasted.

​If you enjoy flavored coffee, flavor the coffee yourself after brewing with one of the available natural and organic coffee flavors you can purchase at many natural food stores. Generally, beans that are already flavored before you purchase them are lower grade coffee beans, since producers know the flavor added after roasting will cover up the lower grade taste of the coffee.

​What does "shade grown" mean?

​Coffee grows naturally In the shade; however, 70 percent of the world's coffee is now grown in full sun. The coffee industry has created hybrid coffee plants that can tolerate full sun and produce more coffee beans, which has led to the dear cutting of rain forests in order to grow more cheap coffee. Purchasing shade grown coffee ensures the coffee you are purchasing is grown in its natural environment, under the canopy of trees. An additional benefit is the flavor of shade grown coffee: since coffee varieties present in shade coffee farms are the older plants, they produce fewer beans more slowly, and consequently offer a richer tasting coffee.

​Also look for organic coffee, since coffee is treated with chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and Fair Trade Certified'" coffee, to ensure that the farmers growing and harvesting your coffee are treated ethically and paid a fair wage for their crop.

​What region produces the best tasting coffee?

​Even though toffee Is believed to have originated in the Ethiopian region and that region still produces wonderful coffee, all coffee growing regions produce great tasting, high quality coffee, and ail regions also produce low quality coffee. Low quality coffee is the stuff you generally get at a low price and is usually grown on huge coffee plantations and is not shade grown, organic, or fair trade. High quality coffee is typically grown on small family plots (usually less than an acre). Single origin coffee selections will have distinct flavors, whereas a coffee blend will contain several origins to give that blend a unique flavor.

  • Kevin is the owner of Blue Smoke Coffee Roasting Co., an area carbon neutral, craft coffee roastery providing fresh roasted to order coffee using only organic, fair trade and shade grown beans. Visit www.bluesmokecoffee.com, or look for the coffee at New Bridge Market and Sprig in Asheville, The Happy Hiker and Whole Earth Grocery in Gatlinburg, TN, and the Chattanooga, TN, Greenlife Grocery