Coffee FAQ's


The World's Leading Coffee Buyers Guide 

by Kenneth Davids


Some of the most common questions asked:

Are all coffee beans the same?

The simple answer is no. The coffee from each part of the world, from different weather and soil conditions, each farm, each year's crop, each cup is usually different and unique. Beans from the same crop, from the same tree can produce startling different nuances due to how it has been handled, roasted, ground, and brewed.

How can I find the best cup of coffee?

Look for a reputable company that strives to maintain highest quality beans by working directly with the farmer who has grown his crop according to environmentally sensitive, certified organic, all natural techniques for generations. This may sound simple but is very difficult to get. Relationship Coffee beans satisfy all these criteria, while many companies meet only a few criteria.

Does coffee really taste that different?

Different coffee flavours have been identified from each of the growing regions in the world. For example, Ethiopian Harrar has a strong distinctive winey flavour (as if someone spiked your cup with Chianti) and light body. On the other hand, Yemen Mocha is a nicely balanced coffee, with a medium to full body, good but not overwhelming acidity, and a rich flavour with those tantalizing "chocolate" undertones. You will need to try different coffees from different areas in the world to get an idea of the variety that is available. You might like a bold, vibrant cup of coffee in the morning and a full bodied, rich, smooth cup in the afternoon.

How can an untrained person look for quality?

If you grab a handful of good quality beans you will see they are all uniform in size, color, shape and smell. If the beans are not the best, they will have broken pieces, some with darker colors that smell (called "stinkers"), and maybe some small sticks as well. After the coffee bean is picked as a ripe cherry from the tree, it goes through processing to remove the centre "pit" (which is a pair of beans) from the outside pulp. It is essential that the beans are sorted to remove all debris and poor quality or broken beans so that nothing but the best is left.

Should I buy whole roasted beans or ground coffee?

Once coffee beans are ground they begin to loose their flavour and within 10-15 days become stale. Most people drink stale coffee because the beans have been roasted, ground and packaged in a factory several weeks ago. Any amount of vacuum sealing or freezing will not prevent this. So buy your coffee as roasted beans in a sealed foil bag that has a one-way vent. Then when you want a fresh cup, you grind just the amount you need according to the correct grade (fine or coarse) depending on whether you are having an espresso or latte. If you have never done this, you're taste buds are in for a big surprise!

It's much easier to just get a cup at my local coffee shop isn't it?

Easier, yes, tastier, no. Each coffee shop only sells a limited number of types of brew. If you make it at home you can cater it exactly to the way you like it with whatever flavouring you want. Grinding your coffee fresh takes very little time. A good grinder is inexpensive and you can keep several types of beans at home. You can even blend different types of coffee beans together to get that special cup you've always wanted.

So how do I get a good cup every time?

The ideal coffee routine for the average home would be to buy the whole coffee bean, preferably a half pound at a time and preferably from a store where they roast it on the spot. Put it in an airtight container in a cool, dark place, and take out only as much as you want to grind and brew immediately. When I say airtight, I mean it. No recycled coffee cans or cottage cheese cartons with snap-on plastic lids. Only use a solid glass jar with a rubber gasket inside the cap that gives a good seal; like a mason jar.


There is no one thing that you can do that will increase the quality of your coffee more than to grind it at home just before you brew it.

Are there special rules to brew the coffee?

Yes, but basically it is the simple process of letting ground coffee soak in water until the water tastes good, and then you drink it.

1. Use freshly ground coffee.
2. Grind the coffee as fine as the coffee filter will allow.
3. Use plenty of coffee: at least 2 level tablespoons per 5 - 6 ounce cup. You may use more, but don't use less. Coffee brewed strongly, tastes better, and you can enjoy the distinctive flavours of your coffee more clearly.
4. Keep your coffee maker clean.
5. Use fresh tasty water, as free of impurities as possible.
6. Use hot water, but not boiling water. A rule of thumb: bring the water to a boil and wait 2 minutes before pouring over the coffee.
7. In a drip system coffee maker, do not brew less than full capacity. If the pot is made for 4 cups, then brew 4 cups.

Are there things I shouldn't do?

1. Don't boil coffee.
2. Don't perk or re-heat coffee.
3. Don't leave coffee on the heat for very long.
4. Don't mix old coffee with new; it's like using rotten wood to prop up a new building.


There is no one thing that you can do that will increase the quality of your coffee more than to grind it at home just before you brew it.

Sometimes increasing the amount of coffee you use per cup can make a big difference in the flavour.

Sometimes trying a different brewing technique can make a big difference in the flavour. Buy a French Press [less than $20.00 at Superstore] and extract the full flavour of your coffee through infusion. It might be the beginning to a whole new brew !!


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