How to buy coffee beans


How to buy coffee beans

In response to the British public’s insatiable demand for speciality coffee, more and more coffee shops have popped pop across the UK. People have been dragged away from their old habits of drinking instant in the office or at home and are now more than willing to walk that extra ten minutes to buy better coffee.

With this, Brits have become more discerning coffee consumers and have higher expectations of a quality cup of coffee. A friend of mine who only recently got the ‘coffee bug’ says he now can’t drink a Starbucks or Costa espresso.

The problem is, if your favourite cafe is shut on the weekends or you’re looking to save a bit of cash & want to make coffee at home, unless you have an idea about home brewing you’re in trouble. This issue came to my attention the other day when a friend of mine was complaining that he had to drink instant at home on the weekends, while in the week he would have his customary flat white at a local Kiwi cafe next to work.

How do you achieve a good cup of coffee if you’re making it yourself? There are many methods to making coffee at home (watch this space), but to start you off I will give you some tips on buying high quality beans.

Buying coffee may seem simple, but it’s actually quite easy to get wrong. Even if you have an excellent machine or filter, if you use bad coffee, guess what… the end product will taste bad.

I advised a friend of mine to buy a V60 and he bought some Square Mile coffee to go with it. He loved it but confessed that when it ran out, he went to Tesco’s (not sure out of convenience or price) and said that it was just awful. He asked me to write a few tips on buying great coffee so below you have three golden rules to buying beans:

1. Make sure that the coffee has a roast date and that you consume the coffee within a month post roast. Generally, the flavour rapidly starts to deteriorate after that time period.

2. Pick a good roaster. A lot of coffee shops will sell the coffee they use wholesale so this is usually a good bet if you like their coffee (always ask for recommendations, they will differ depending on how you brew the coffee at home). Alternatively, you can always buy online. Has Bean offers a wide variety of coffees and a selection that are very affordable but still quality if you’re on a tight budget.

3. Espresso or Filter? A common assumption with home brewing is that it doesn’t matter what coffee you use. Wrong. Just how if you put diesel in a petrol car, if you put espresso coffee beans into a French Press, you’re in trouble (arguably more so in the first example, depending on who you speak to…) Make sure that you find out whether or not the coffee you are buying is made for espresso, filter or can be used with both methods.

You now know how to buy coffee beans! Stick to these principles, and you should have a smile on your face next time you make coffee at home.

If you feel like I’ve missed anything out, leave a comment below!



7 Responses

  1. Brian Coffee Spot

    08/01/2013, 05:12 pm

    Sound advice! Best investment is a grinder; pre-ground coffee goes stale much more quickly than whole beans. If you are buying pre-ground, never buy a bag that says “ground for all coffee makers” – this is such a lie.


  2. George

    08/02/2013, 09:50 am

    Great article! I don’t agree on the diesel car analogy though; I can’t see any evidence for espresso blends being unsuitable for filter brewing. I have recently been putting Sweet Shop Espresso through my V60 and it’s brilliant!

    • Henry

      08/02/2013, 03:02 pm

      Thanks George. Sweetshop is a really nice blend! I’m a big fan.

      Perhaps it’s not as pronounced with the Sweetshop Blend but it’s likely that with the majority of coffees, using the wrong method to brew them can end in a sub-optimal flavour outcome. It might taste ok but I bet you’d prefer the Sweetshop in espresso form.
      It also depends on the brand too. I would much rather use Sweet Shop Espresso Blend through my V60 than a filter blend from Tesco’s but that’s just because the latter is just awful in any form!


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