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How to Choose the Right Coffee for You

POSTED. Feb 17, 2021

If you’re relatively new to specialty coffee, it may appear daunting to choose the right coffee for your personal preference. Blend, single origin, elevation, tasting notes, what does it all mean? While there are no steadfast rules on what certain coffees will taste like, there are a few general rules of thumb that can likely help point you in the right direction.


Light vs Dark

This a common question we receive from new customers, “Which coffee is the darkest?” Most specialty roasters offer at least one darker coffee to appeal to those that like a more traditional coffee, see our Dark Blend, but beyond that, it becomes a little ambiguous. 

Most of our coffees are roasted to a similar degree of “darkest” which frankly, isn’t very dark. We roast each coffee to best represent its distinct flavors and characteristics. Meaning we apply heat and airflow at specific times during the roasting process to manipulate the rate at which the temperature increases. The final temperature we bring each coffee to or the amount of of time we develop a coffee for will vary, but they are right around the same degree of “roasted-ness”. 

Blend vs Single Origin

So if we can’t really differentiate most of our offerings by dark or lightness, the next logical step is to point out the differences between a blend or a single origin coffee. As you would assume, a blend is a mixture of multiple coffees together to create a specific flavor profile. While a single origin coffee is one specific coffee from a single place. 

Blends are useful to have a few stable and consistent coffees on the menu that customers can come to expect. Because coffees are seasonal and their availabilities wax and wane with the harvest seasons, we are able to combine different coffees throughout the year that, together, maintain the flavor profile of the blend. Our tried and true espresso blend, Espresso Clutch, is a perfect example. It’s components change seasonally, but it always yields the same cup with notes of dark chocolate, cane sugar, and cherry.

If you typically gravitate towards darker or more full bodied coffees, I typically suggest trying out one of our blends. While they aren’t necessarily dark, the combination of coffees tend to be more balanced, with a heavier body, and more approachable flavors for many different palates. 

African vs: American Coffees 

The last main distinction between coffees is where it was produced. There are many different coffee-producing countries, but most commonly you will see coffees from Africa: Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi or South/Central America: Colombia, Brazil, Costa Rica, etc. 

Like I mentioned before, there is no exact rule for how a coffee from any of these countries is supposed to taste, but there are a few generalizations that can be made. For instance, African coffees, those from Ethiopia and Kenya specifically, are usually expected to be super bright and aromatic. They often have a lighter body with floral aromatics and citric acidity. 

Coffees from South and Central America usually are a little more round and mellow, often with nutty flavors and more subdued acidity. Of course, there are always exceptions. There are some high-elevation farms in Colombia, for example, that produce highly aromatic and fruited coffees that could easily be mistaken for an Ethiopian coffee. 

Which type of coffee sounds the best to you? A balanced and approachable blend or a bright and aromatic Ethiopian coffee? We think most coffee drinkers will find a coffee that suits their palate on our offering list. Or you can leave that hard work up to us, and get a Roaster's Choice Coffee Subscription.