Selecting the Right Coffee

Coffee bean selection (photo courtesy of Broken Banjo Photography)Recently, a customer was asking me about what coffee she should select. After browsing our extensive selection of coffee varietals, she said, "Wow, I'm really liking all the dark coffees you have here! I love a robust, full-bodied coffee. Dark roast in my favorite. I had some Peru last time and that was really good!"

It's a shame we in the coffee industry often don't use the same vocabulary as our customers. Peru is generally considered a light-flavored coffee with high notes and a full, but gentle flavor.

She was using all the wrong words to describe the coffee she loved.

When selecting coffee to brew at home, be sure to talk to the experts in the shop about what you've liked in the past. A good, knowledgable coffee merchant will understand how the the flavor profiles of the different varietals and roast levels affect the flavor in your cup and will be able to offer you a good recommendation.

Be open minded about trying new types of coffee too. As with any seasonal crop, some harvests are better than others, and coffee bean quality can vary widely betweens regions and even between local farms. However, in general, a good rule of thumb is to look for other varietals from a similar part of the world. So for example, I might recommend the latest beans from Brazil would have a similar flavor profile to the Peru she enjoyed last time.

In the end, it is all a matter of freshness. Regardless of origin, shop with a coffee merchant who sells a lot of beans. Not only will the rotating stock ensure you always get the freshest crop, but the staff will probably be more experienced and more knowledgable as well. Look for beans that are good and clean--free from any minor stones or pits that mar the flavor of your final brew--and that aren't too oily.

Buy locally roasted coffee whenever possible to ensure freshness. Or order your favorite varietal from a merchant who roasts to order and ships quickly so you always get the best flavor possible from whatever beans you select.

What are your favorite coffee varieties? Leave a comment!


Trianon Coffee

Roy – Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments. You are absolutely right! This blog post is poorly worded and needs an update. We apologize for the miscommunication. Our intention was to say that sometimes customers have a poor experience at other coffee shops because the staff doesn’t take the time to really get to the heart of what a customer likes and dislikes in their coffee. If a coffee drinker usually enjoys a medium-roasted Peru, then if she goes into most cafes and asks for something “bold” she will most likely be disappointed by her experience. We don’t want that to happen at Trianon. No matter what kind of coffee they like or how they describe it, we want to match people with the perfect coffee—whatever that is for them. Coffees—just like people—are complex and tastes are always changing. We are all about educating both the newly “coffee curious” and coffee aficionados alike. And we love your idea for more definition around terms. Great post idea! Thank you again for taking the time to comment and we hope to see in the cafe soon! —Stacy Dyer Lauriat

Roy R

I don’t mean to be snarky but was she using the wrong words or is the coffee industry using the wrong words? Miscommunication is exasperating. It causes fight, divorce, legal disputes, rifts in families, and wars have been fought for what could easily be described as a language barrier.

You said “It’s a shame we in the coffee industry often don’t use the same vocabulary as our customers.” then you followed up with “She was using all the wrong words.” Please, if you want me to speak your language, don’t call me stupid or tell me I am wrong, teach me your language. For example what does it mean when you say “high notes”? You claim her description of the coffee as “bold” is wrong but you said it had “a full, but gentle flavor.” which I conclude is an oxymoron. Why can’t coffee purveyors make it easy for the coffee consuming public. Will you help start something refreshing by using plain terms that we can understand or at least provide some translation for the average coffee drinker so that we too can experience really great coffee? If you have ever asked why so many people buy coffee based on what is on sale, it is because they have never had good coffee and if they did, they had no idea how to get more because we don’t speak your language.

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