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Spotlight on the Colombian Coffee Region

Mountains of Colombian Coffee Region

The Colombian Coffee Region has a long history of producing some of the best coffee in the world. Its geographical location gives it a strong advantage in growing high-quality Arabica beans using traditional methods. 

Where is the Colombian Coffee Region Located?

Colombia is located in the northwest tip of South America, close to the equator. An area known as the Coffee Triangle produces the majority of Colombia’s coffee. It is located in the Paisa region, a northwest rural area. This region is positioned at the western end of the Andes Mountains.  It includes the Caldas, Quindio, Risaralda, and Tolima departments. (Departments are country subdivisions with a degree of autonomy.)

So How Does the Colombian Coffee Region’s Location Affect its Weather Conditions?

As a country, Colombia has a variety of microclimates. This is partially due to the vast range of terrains – deserts (hot), jungles (humid), and mountains (frigid). In general, the country’s location near the equator gives it a relatively consistent climate throughout the year. Regions near the equator usually experience two seasons – wet and dry. 

Dry winters and wet summers create optimal growing conditions for the Colombian Coffee Region’s world-renowned coffee. Ideal temperatures for growing coffee beans are said to be in the range of 17℃ to 23℃.  At 8℃ to 24℃, the Colombian Coffee Region’s temperatures tend to fall very close to this ideal temperature range. Relative to other parts of the country, such as the capital city Bogotá, the Colombian Coffee Region experiences warmer, more moderate temperatures.

With This Ideal Climate, How Was Coffee Introduced in Colombia?

Over the years, coffee has grown to be Colombia’s primary export and it has become one of the top coffee-producing countries in the world. In fact, only Brazil and Vietnam produce more coffee than Colombia per year. (Learn about other coffee producing regions in the world.)

A long history of coffee farms anchors Colombia’s position as one of the world leaders in coffee production. Many believe European Jesuit priests first introduced coffee to Colombians in the mid 16th century. Initially, Colombians did not welcome the idea of farming coffee plants. The people weren’t eager to devote five years to establish the coffee plant crop. 

So, the story goes that initial coffee crops started small with the help of a Jesuit priest. Located in the small town of Salazar de Las Palmas, this priest had parishioners plant a few coffee plants as an act of repentance. This small practice is thought to have facilitated the expansion of coffee production to other regions in Colombia. 

After Its Initial Introduction, How Did Coffee Become One of Colombia’s Main Exports?

Over time, coffee grew in popularity in the United States and Europe. As this occurred, the Colombian Coffee Region expanded its coffee production. However, the first export of Colombian coffee didn’t occur until the 1800s. This first shipment was sent to the United States.

By the end of the 19th century, coffee grew to become Colombia’s main export. 

As production grew in the Colombian Coffee Region, organizations were being formed to support these small farmers. In 1927, the Federación Nacional de Cafeteros (FNC), also known as the National Federation of Coffee Growers, was established to help, represent, and protect the rights of coffee growers. The federation is one of the largest non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the world. 

About a decade later (1938), FNC established Cenicafé, a research organization to aid coffee growers with different aspects of coffee production. Cenicafé’s research addresses areas including farm production, processing, harvesting, conservation, and grain quality among other things. In fact, the research organization is credited with developing a disease-resistant coffee variety (Castillo).

With the help of the FNC and Cenicafé, the Colombian Coffee Region was able to successfully expand production. Colombia, at approximately 14 million bags per year, is the third-largest coffee producing country in the world behind Brazil and Vietnam. However, it produces the most Arabica coffee in the world.

How Do Farmers in the Colombia Coffee Region Harvest and Process Coffee?

Colombia is one of the few coffee-producing countries with two harvesting periods each year – spring and autumn.

Small farmers in the Colombian Coffee Region rely on traditional methods to harvest and process their coffee. This is despite advancements made to make the coffee production process more efficient. 

For example, because much of the coffee is grown on the Andes mountains with its steep slopes, machines cannot be used to pick the coffee beans. Instead, it needs to be harvested by hand. Therefore, all of the close to 600,000 coffee producers pick the coffee beans from the plant by hand. The advantage of handpicking is it ensures the best coffee cherries are being picked and moved on to the processing phase. 

Their traditional practices are also illustrated through their method of transporting coffee harvests. Many farmers still transport their coffee beans on the backs of mules. 

Once the coffee is picked, it gets transported to a processing area. The initial coffee processing step involves removing the skin and pulp of the fruit (coffee cherry) by wet processing. As part of this processing method, the sticky substance (mucilage) covering them is removed. In order to accomplish this, they are fermented in water for 12 to 24 hours to break down the mucilage. 

In most cases, the resulting coffee beans are then dried in the sun. 

What Flavors Are Representative of the Coffees Grown and Harvested in the Colombian Coffee Region?

Colombia is one of the few coffee-producing countries that grows solely Arabica coffee beans. These coffee beans are higher in quality and are known to have a sweeter and lighter taste. They also have half the caffeine and stronger acidic notes relative to Robusta beans. 

However, all Colombian coffees do not taste the same. Coffee flavors can vary greatly depending on factors such as soil conditions and altitudes. Therefore, the Colombian Coffee Region, with its differing microclimates, can produce coffee beans with several distinct flavors. In fact, even coffee from neighboring family farms can have differing tastes. 

Generally speaking, the southern part of the Colombian Coffee Region is known for its citrus taste, and the central area is known for its fruity/herbal flavors. In contrast, the coffee from the northern part of the Colombian Coffee Region has hints of chocolate and nuts. 

The lower altitudes in the northern regions produce coffee beans with medium body and balanced acidity. On the other hand, higher altitudes found in the southern regions produce coffee beans with “medium body, clean aroma, and high acidity.”

However, the roasting and brewing of these Colombian green coffee beans will largely determine the resulting flavor in your coffee cup.

For example, lighter roasts of Colombian Premium FTO Ocamonte Santander coffee beans will have hints of floral and caramel complementing the main chocolate/nut tones. However, a darker roast of this coffee bean will mute the floral and caramel. 

There are additional general differences between light vs. dark roast coffees that will help you decide which is best for you.

How Does the Future Look for the Colombian Coffee Region?

Similar to other coffee-producing countries around the world, family farms in the Colombian Coffee Region are facing the difficult effects of climate change. This is in addition to the usual land erosion they have faced on their mountainous terrain. 

Climate change has brought about unpredictable weather patterns that result in floods, droughts, and invasive pests. These conditions can lead to diseased crops that can be devastating to an economy that relies heavily on the production of high-quality coffee harvests. In addition, the uncertainty of optimal planting and harvesting periods due to climate change affects farmers’ ability to organize labor.

Family farms in the Colombian Coffee Region are trying to make adjustments to weather the damaging effects of climate change. Many are planting trees to shield their coffee plants from the hot sun and combat erosion. Other measures include the creation of water tanks that collect rainwater for use during droughts.  

As the farmers continue to experience the effects of climate change, they will need to rely on the aid of the government and the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia. Working together, they will be able to find new and innovative ways to protect the livelihood of the family farms in the Colombian Coffee Region. 

What is the Best Way to Experience Coffee From the Colombian Coffee Region?

If you would like to compare coffee from the Colombian Coffee Region to that of other coffee-producing countries, consider trying our BCT Popular Bundle. This bundle generally includes a pound of green coffee beans from Colombia, along with two pounds from other popular coffee-growing countries. 

For Decaf coffee drinkers, the BCT Decaf Bundle generally offers a pound of green coffee beans each from Colombia, along with two other great decafs. 

Once you decide on the right green coffee beans to purchase, be sure to select a high-quality storage container to protect them. Green coffee beans and roasted coffee can use similar storage containers.

How Decaf Coffee is Made: Processing and Roasting

It’s helpful for decaffeinated coffee drinkers (and those considering becoming one) to understand how decaf coffee is made. When we raise this question, it is regarding the decaffeination process and not how to brew a cup of decaf coffee. There are different processing methods used to extract the caffeine from harvested green coffee beans

First of All, Why Do People Choose to Drink Decaffeinated Coffee?

Decaffeinated coffee makes up approximately 12% of worldwide coffee consumption. People may drink decaffeinated coffee for a variety of reasons. Despite going through the decaffeination process, these coffee beans are known to retain most of the antioxidant benefits found in regular coffee. 

However, decaffeinated coffee is the drink of choice for some because they may experience adverse effects from caffeine. Effects can include an overwhelmed nervous system, restlessness, anxiety, heart arrhythmia, or digestive problems. Others choose decaffeinated coffee because caffeine disrupts their sleep or their prescription drugs require a caffeine-free diet.

It’s important to note that decaffeinated coffee still contains small amounts of caffeine. The FDA does not regulate the amount of caffeine that is present in decaffeinated coffee. However, as a general guideline, the FDA likes to see anything labeled as decaffeinated coffee to have at least 97% of the caffeine removed. Decaf coffee can contain anywhere from an estimated 2mg to 13 mg of caffeine

So, How is Decaffeinated Coffee Made Using Different Processes?

Decaffeinated green coffee beans are processed in different ways. Listed below are some of the better-known ones.

1. Direct Solvent Decaffeination Method

This process is likely the most well-known decaffeination method. This method was used to create the first batch of decaffeinated coffee beans in the early 1900s.

This process begins with steaming green coffee beans which opens their pores. They are then soaked in a solvent. These days this solvent is either methylene chloride or ethyl acetate. Earlier in history, the solvent used was benzene. However, it was eventually found to be carcinogenic. 

The solvent absorbs the caffeine from the coffee beans. Unfortunately, some of the flavor compounds are also absorbed in the process.

The steaming, drying, and roasting of the beans are . These steps allow for the removal of any remaining solvents. 

2. Indirect Solvent Decaffeination Method

Similar to the Direct Solvent Method, and just as the name indicates, a solvent is used to decaffeinate green coffee beans. However, in this method, the solvent does not come in direct contact with the beans. 

Instead of steaming them, the green coffee beans are soaked in hot water where the caffeine and flavor compounds dissolve. After the beans are removed, the solvent is added to this water. The solvent absorbs the caffeine and a small amount of the flavor compounds from the water. 

The water is then separated from the solvent. The green coffee beans are then added back to this water where it can absorb back the lost flavor compounds. 

After the beans are removed from the water, they are dried and roasted. 

3. Water Processing

Higher-end or organic coffees typically go through this decaffeination process. The absence of chemicals is what makes this process attractive. 

Similar to the Indirect Solvent Method, Water Processing begins with green coffee beans soaking in hot water. While soaking, the caffeine and flavor compounds are dissolved. 

Also, similarly, the caffeine is extracted from the new solution. However, in Water Processing, the extraction occurs using activated carbon filters and not a solvent. 

These filters remove the caffeine molecules from the solution, leaving the flavor compounds in the water. 

This water is then added to a new batch of green coffee beans. (The original batch is thrown out.) Because this new solution includes flavor compounds, it will not dissolve or remove the flavor from the new batch of beans. Subsequent batches of green coffee beans can reuse this solution. However, it is best to use it on the same flavors of coffee beans so flavors aren’t intermixed.

4. Carbon Dioxide Method

With this decaffeination method, green coffee beans are soaked in highly compressed carbon dioxide. This carbon dioxide is in liquid form and is created from gaseous carbon dioxide under high compression and cool temperatures.

Similar to the Water Processing, the green coffee beans are first soaked in water. The beans are then transferred to an extraction vessel where liquid carbon dioxide is pumped in at a higher pressure level. In this step, the carbon dioxide acts as a solvent and removes the caffeine from the coffee beans. However, it leaves the flavor compounds behind. 

This resulting caffeinated carbon dioxide solution is transferred to an absorption chamber. Once in this container, the pressure is released and the carbon dioxide changes to a gaseous state. As it changes, the caffeine is left behind. The gas form of the carbon dioxide is returned to a pressurized container where it is used again in liquid form on future batches of green coffee beans. 

The Carbon Dioxide Method can be relatively expensive and usually used with very large batches of commercial-grade coffee. However, this method is known to be more selective in the extraction of caffeine molecules over flavor compounds. 

Using any of these decaffeination methods, the resulting coffee not only has less caffeine but it also has less acidity. In addition, some people believe the coffee’s health benefits are stripped away along with some of the flavor. However, when considering the negative effects of caffeine you will avoid, you may not mind the altered flavor. 

When choosing decaffeinated green coffee beans, consider purchasing blends instead of single variety beans. Different varieties will react to decaffeination processes differently. Purchasing a blend will help balance out changes in flavors caused by decaffeination. 

How is Roasting Decaf Coffee Beans Different From Roasting Regular Ones?

Roasting decaffeinated coffee beans can be more difficult for a few different reasons:

1. You can’t rely on the color of the decaf coffee beans as much as you can with regular coffee beans

Different decaffeination processes can result in a variety of green coffee bean colors. After going through decaffeination, the green coffee beans turn into various shades of brown. Therefore, you can’t rely on the color of the beans to determine the stages of roasting or roast levels.

2. When roasting decaffeinated green coffee beans, cracking occurs at a different temperature than regular ones. 

A slow rise in temperatures is important for decaffeinated green coffee beans. However, you will need to rely less on temperature levels to determine roast levels.  Instead, it will be important to pay attention to the sounds during the roast process. The second crack for decaffeinated beans will be softer. 

3. The timing will be different when roasting decaffeinated green coffee beans

During the decaffeination process, these green coffee beans have already gone through the additional stress of expansion (rehydration) and contraction (drying). Therefore, these beans will likely release moisture earlier in the roasting process. This will make the first crack look different for decaffeinated coffee beans than it would for regular ones.

In addition, the time period between the first and second crack will be longer than that of regular coffee beans. This longer time period is related to the recommended slow rise of temperature during the roasting process. 

Burman Coffee offers a great selection of decaffeinated green coffee beans. If you need help selecting decaffeinated coffee based on your personal preferences, please contact us. We would love to help you find the beans to make your perfect cup of decaffeinated coffee.

Flavored Coffee Beans: 6 Things to Consider Before Purchasing

Coffee cup brewed with flavored coffee beans.

Nowadays roasted coffee beans come in a dizzying array of flavors. In this case, we aren’t referring to the flavor profiles developed during the growing, processing, and roasting of coffee beans. Flavored coffee beans are created when flavoring oils are added to roasted coffee beans. 

Interestingly, the history of flavored coffee goes back hundreds of years. Long ago Middle Easterners drank their coffee with hints of nuts and spices. Since the peak of the gourmet coffee craze in the 1990s, chemists have been able to develop oils in a diverse assortment of flavors. These flavoring oils are what is most commonly used to flavor roasted coffee beans.

What are the typical ingredients in these flavoring oils?

Just as you would expect, the base of these oils is some type of oil that helps the flavors stick to the coffee beans. Many larger commercial roasters use synthetic oils. However, smaller roasters offering flavored coffee beans may use something more common, such as peanut oil, as the base.

The actual flavor consists of a mixture of chemicals and natural flavors. Examples of natural flavors include vanilla, cinnamon, and cocoa beans. The ability to create such diverse flavors is due in part to the numerous chemical combinations available to create complex flavors. Coffee flavoring oils can include as many as 80 different compounds. As a comparison, most other food flavorings have an average of about ten.

Unless you have a Chemistry degree, you may not recognize most of the ingredients in flavoring oils which can be a bit worrisome. A common ingredient in flavoring oils is the solvent propylene glycol. It is a synthetic food additive that is better than water at dissolving some substances. The Food and Drug Administration considers propylene glycol as “generally recognized as safe.” Therefore, it is a common ingredient in many food products.

However, many are alarmed when they learn propylene glycol is also used in hygiene and cosmetic products. Even more worrisome is that differing quantities are also used in industrial products such as paint and antifreeze.

How Do Commercial Roasters Make Their Flavored Coffee Beans?

After roasting and degassing, these flavoring oils are added to the coffee beans. The oil is sprayed onto the roasted coffee beans while they tumble in a large mixer for an average of 15 to 30 minutes. After the beans are evenly coated, they are allowed to sit for about 30 minutes. This allows the roasted beans to absorbed the flavoring oils.

After learning some basic facts about flavored coffee beans, you may be hesitant to purchase them.

Reasons You Should Think Twice Before Purchasing Flavored Coffee Beans

1. For many commercial roasters, using flavoring oils is a profitable way to use old, stale beans.

The chemicals in these oils not only mask the dull taste of older roasted coffee beans. It also increases their shelf-life. Essentially you could be purchasing low-quality coffee beans covered in synthetic flavoring.

2. Thick oil coating on flavored coffee beans can affect your coffee grinds and grinder.

Because the roasted coffee beans used are likely older, they are less porous. They will not soak up the oils as well as freshly roasted coffee beans. As a result, roasters may use an excessive amount of flavoring oil to coat the coffee beans to ensure the flavors adhere to the beans. 

The layer of oil on flavored coffee beans can affect the grinding process. The oil coating can cause the resulting grinds to be pasty and less powdery. These pasty grinds can build up over time on your grinder blades. This can affect the taste of other coffee beans you may grind in the future.

3. Flavored coffee beans can affect the brewing process as well.

The pasty consistency of the grinds can cause clogging – not allowing water to move freely through the grinds. More than likely, this results in a less than optimal tasting cup of coffee.

4. When using higher quality coffee beans, flavoring oils can overpower its distinct natural flavors.

Many coffee aficionados find adding these oils wastes the efforts invested in the growing, processing, and roasting of high-quality coffee beans. 

5. As previously mentioned, coffee flavoring oils commonly use propylene glycol.

The FDA approved small quantities of propylene glycol to be safe. However, in larger quantities, it can have adverse effects on those with compromised health. Unfortunately, when used as a solvent (as is the case with flavoring oils), it may not be listed as an ingredient on the food packaging. 

More commonly, propylene glycol is known to be a skin and eye irritant. When dealing with this ingredient in large quantities in the manufacturing of flavoring oils, it can pose a health risk for workers.

6. The flavoring oils can affect your coffee’s aftertaste.

Many have found that coffee brewed using flavored coffee beans leaves what has been described as a metallic and bitter aftertaste. This is thought to be a result of the chemicals used to flavor coffee beans. 

Spices used to flavor coffee beans.

If you are looking for natural alternatives to add a hint of flavor to your freshly roasted coffee beans, you can do so using whole spices including vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks, and cocoa beans. Store freshly roasted coffee beans in a storage container with your chosen whole spice. The longer you let it sit the stronger the flavor will be. For example, split vanilla beans in half and mix with freshly roasted beans. Return to the storage container and allow to sit for at least 24 hours after degassing.

However, to protect the pure taste of high-quality coffee beans, we recommend you start by trying different varieties to find your preferred flavor profile. The Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel, developed by World Coffee Research (WCR) and the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), is a great tool to help articulate your coffee flavor preferences.

Contact us, and our coffee professionals can help you select coffee beans that fit your preferences. They can direct you to green coffee bean varieties you can roast at home.

View our Ultimate Guide to Home Roasting Coffee Beans to learn more about the roasting process. You can learn how to control some of the resulting flavors in your roasted coffee beans.

Degassing Coffee: Definition, Importance, & Factors to Consider

Have you discovered and tasted the rewards of home roasting coffee beans yet? Remember, identifying and developing your preferred coffee flavor profile takes time and patience. An important step in this process is degassing your coffee beans.

Before we begin exploring the degassing process, it is helpful to review the coffee roasting process as it relates to gases.

So, Are There Gases In Coffee Beans?

In short, the answer is yes. During the roasting process, gases form within the coffee beans. These gases are primarily made up of carbon dioxide. In fact, carbon dioxide makes up approximately 90% of the gas released. The remaining 10% is comprised of nitrogen, other gases, and volatile compounds.

You may be wondering how carbon dioxide and other gases end up in the coffee beans in the first place. 

A study has shown the Maillard reaction plays an important role in the formation of carbon dioxide during the roasting process. The build-up of the carbon dioxide and other gases is what results in the first crack during the roasting process. As the roasting process continues, some of the gases are released, particularly during the last phase.

Despite this initial release of gases, the majority still remains in the coffee after roasting is complete. This is why home roasters and those who purchase locally roasted beans need to degas their freshly roasted coffee.

What Does it Mean to Degas Your Coffee?

Degassing your coffee simply means that you are allowing the beans to release the remaining gases after roasting. 

As the beans are removed from the roaster, gases continue to escape. Initially, the gases dissipate more rapidly, but over time the rate significantly decreases. It is estimated that 40% of the carbon dioxide is released within the first 24 hours after roasting. Most of the gas escapes within the first few days after roasting is complete. However, it can continue up to around a couple of weeks.

However, the objective of degassing your coffee is not to have all the gases disappear. The carbon dioxide serves as a barrier of sorts, blocking out oxygen. When the carbon dioxide is released from the coffee beans, it is replaced with oxygen. This process is known as oxidation and eventually will result in stale coffee over time. 

The key is to degas your coffee for an optimal length of time. This will take some practice as it depends on a variety of factors, which we will review.

I’m Eager to Brew My Coffee. Is Degassing Really That Important?

Yes, if your goal is to brew flavorful coffee. 

If coffee is not  properly degassed before grinding, small bubbles will appear during the brewing process. This is because the carbon dioxide repels water. The result is uneven flavor extraction and ultimately coffee with a less than optimal flavor and profile. Some have described the taste as sour.

Taking the time to degas your coffee properly allows the hot water to extract the aromatics and oils from the grinds. It will be worth the wait in flavor. 

Blooming coffee to aid in the degassing process.

To release any remaining carbon dioxide, you can allow your coffee to bloom before brewing. Bloom your coffee grinds by dampening them with a small amount of hot water for a couple of minutes. The hot water will release additional carbon dioxide before you commence with the full brewing process.

Crema on a espresso shot.

It is worth noting there are differing opinions on the foam layer produced by remaining gases. This is specifically as it relates to espresso. On a freshly brewed espresso shot, the foam layer is called crema. The tan-colored (some describe as reddish-brown) crema exits the espresso machine first. It then settles at the top once the brewing process is complete.

For some, a perfect espresso shot includes the right amount of crema. They find that crema gives espresso a fuller flavor and a longer aftertaste relative to drip coffee. On the other hand, too much of it will ruin the espresso’s flavor.

Others find the crema to be overrated and unnecessary. Some experts believe crema can indicate freshness or degree of roast. However, they don’t think it is directly correlated to the espresso’s taste.

Now you have a better understanding of the process.

The Next Step is Learning the Things to Consider When Degassing Your Next Batch of Home Roasted Coffee Beans.

1. Studies Have Shown the Roast Level can serve as an Indicator to the Carbon Dioxide Level in Roasted Coffee Beans.

Darker Roasts were shown to have a higher level of residual carbon dioxide relative to lighter roasts. Residual carbon dioxide is the gas remaining after the roasting process is complete.

2. With Roast Levels Constant, Studies Have Shown that the Speed of Roasting Affects Degassing Rates of Roasted Coffee Beans.

Coffee beans roasted more quickly at a higher temperature tend to degas at a higher rate. This is relative to coffee beans, with the same roast level, that are roasted at a lower temperature over a longer period of time.

Roasted coffee beans and grinds shown to illustrate the effect of grinding in the degassing process.

3. Grinding Accelerates the Degassing of Coffee.

Grinding the roasted coffee beans results in a higher rate of degassing. One study found a degassing rate as high as 73% within minutes after grinding. This rate compares the carbon dioxide level immediately prior to grinding to the level minutes after. 

The grind size plays a factor in the degassing rate. The study showed the finer the grind size, the higher the rate of degassing.

Prevent carbon dioxide from being released too quickly as it will compromise the fresh taste of your coffee. Protect the freshness by minimizing the time between grinding and brewing your coffee.

4. Several Other Factors Can Have An Effect on Optimal Degassing Time for Coffee.

In addition to roast levels, the optimal degassing time will depend on several things. These include harvesting techniques, processing method, bean size, and your planned brewing method. 

For example, natural (dry) processed coffee beans have been found to take longer to degas than washed beans. With natural processing, the fruit is not removed until the drying process is complete. On the other hand, washed coffee beans have their fruits removed before they are dried.

As previously mentioned, darker roast coffees were found to have a higher level of residual carbon dioxide.

However, despite having a lower level, lighter roasts need more time to degas compared to darker roasts. This is because lighter roast beans haven’t broken down as much as darker roasts. Therefore, they degas at a slower rate. The longer roasting time of darker roasts results in more tiny cracks from where the carbon dioxide is released. More of these cracks results in a higher rate of degassing.

Degassing Coffee times by brewing methods infographic.

Brewing method also plays a factor in how long you should degas your coffee. The following is a rough guideline on degassing times based on your planned brewing method: 

5. Proper Roasted Coffee Bean Storage Will Help With Degassing.

Storing your home roasted coffee beans in proper containers  will ensure they are degassing  while preventing oxidation. 

An ideal coffee bean storage container has a degassing valve. This one-way valve will allow carbon dioxide to be released. This prevents oxygen from entering the container. The carbon dioxide escapes slowly – it helps push out the oxygen helping the roasted beans from becoming stale. There are other attributes to look for in coffee storage containers including light and moisture protection.

Remember, a small level of carbon dioxide is ideal. It prevents the coffee beans from becoming stale or oxidizing.

There are storage containers that build up pressure to minimize the amount of carbon dioxide that escapes. Increased pressure in the container creates an environment that promotes proper aging.

Degassing coffee is one of several important steps in the home roasting process. To learn more about the home roasting process, visit Burman Coffee Traders’s Coffee Learning Center.

Identifying Coffee Roasting Defects & Understanding the Causes

Bowl of roasted coffee beans

Creating an ideal coffee roast profile includes quite a bit of experimentation. This is particularly the case if you are just starting your home coffee roasting journey. Developing a coffee roast profile ensures the flavors and best attributes of a particular coffee bean are drawn out. Outlined below are coffee roasting defects you may encounter. This may occur as you familiarize yourself with a new roaster and perfect a roast profile.

Baked Coffee is a Coffee Roasting Defect That is Difficult to Recognize.

Baked coffee beans are difficult to visually distinguish from other roasted coffee beans. Therefore, you may not suspect the beans are baked until you drink the coffee. Coffee brewed with baked beans will have a noticeably different taste. It is described as lifeless with hints of oat and grain. Others describe baked coffee beans as having papery or bread-like tastes. These beans have lost their flavors, sugar, and acid during the roasting process.

To understand what causes coffee beans to become baked, roasters need to look to the Rate of Rise (RoR) measurement. ROR measures “the growth rate of the bean temperature over time”. In other words, the measure indicates how quickly the beans’ temperature is changing. 

The key is to avoid an RoR that is too low. Lower RoR’s indicate the coffee beans are taking a longer time to move through the roasting process. When the RoR is low enough it can lead to stalling – when the temperature is not increasing as it should to complete the roasting process. A low enough RoR results in coffee beans roasting longer than they should be (at a lower temperature) before reaching the first crack.

Basically, to avoid baked coffee beans, roast your beans more quickly at a higher temperature. 

Underdeveloped Coffee Beans is an Easier Coffee Roasting Defect to Identify.

When coffee has a green or grassy taste with low acidity, the roasted beans are likely underdeveloped. This coffee roasting defect is sometimes easily identifiable by a lighter outer color. 

In other cases, underdeveloped coffee beans can have a dark outer layer. During the roasting process, the outer layers of coffee beans reach a higher temperature before the inner layers. This uneven rise in temperature could lead to a developed (darker) look while the inner part remains underdeveloped (lighter).

By examining a coffee bean’s inner layers, you can determine if it is underdeveloped. However, be aware that an underdeveloped coffee bean will be difficult to crack open.

When trying to achieve a lighter roast, you can end up with underdeveloped coffee beans. This usually occurs when roasters are overly cautious about over-roasting their beans. Underdevelopment is also common when roasters are perfecting their light roast profiles.

Underdeveloped beans in darker roast coffees have a darker outer layer and a lighter inner layer. This may be the result of uneven roasting temperatures. Raising roasting temperatures at the right times will help minimize underdevelopment in darker roasts. This is a skill that can be perfected with continued practice with your roaster.

Overdevelopment is a Coffee Roasting Defect that Can Occur When Trying to Achieve a Darker Roast.

Overdeveloped coffee beans will be black and oily and produce a burnt and bitter-tasting coffee. Some describe the taste as smoky and liken it to ash or carbon. 

Roasting coffee beans too long will lead to overdevelopment. It does not take much to cross over from a dark roast to overdeveloped beans. 

However, there are some who believe that coffee is either developed or undeveloped. The thought is overdevelopment is an inaccurate term and the beans are just “darker”.

Others view overdevelopment as an “over-roasting” error and therefore consider it a coffee roasting defect.

Scorching is an Easily Identifiable Coffee Roasting Defect.

Burn marks on the flat surfaces of the coffee beans indicate scorching has occurred. Coffee made with scorched beans will have an overpowering smoky/ashy flavor. 

Scorching can occur when the beans are placed in a roaster at a higher than ideal charge temperature. The charge temperature is defined as a roasting machine’s initial temperature before the beans are added. 

Other causes of scorching include a roaster with a slower rotating drum or loading too many coffee beans to a roasting batch. Overfilling a roaster’s drum will prevent the movement of beans and decrease the airflow. 

Essentially, to prevent scorched coffee, make sure the beans are turning over easily earlier in the roast cycle. Monitoring the fan speed will help ensure sufficient bean movement in the roaster.

Tipping is Similar to Scorching.

The visual difference between tipping and scorching is the location of the burn marks. While scorching burn marks are located on the flat surfaces of the bean, tipping marks, as the name indicates, are at the tips or edges. The taste is usually similar to that of scorched coffee.

Tipping is a function of the coffee bean’s shape. At high temperatures, the moisture evaporates from the tips more quickly due to the lower density relative to other parts of the bean. 

Some believe a higher charge temperature causes tipping, similar to scorching. Others think tipping occurs later in the roasting process – during the second crack. Conduction or convection? In other words, is tipping a result of a hot drum or poor air circulation? The answer could be any of the above.  The thought is it’s more about the shape and the inability to withstand the heat at the edges/tips.

Quakers are Identifiable Only After the Roasting Process.

Quakers are not considered a true coffee roasting defect, but can only be identified after the roasting process is complete. Before roasting, quakers look similar to other coffee beans so they are overlooked in the sorting process. These underripe coffee beans are usually caused by poor soil conditions which hinder sugar and starch development. 

After roasting, quakers will remain lighter in color compared to the other roasted beans. Take the time to remove any quakers from your roast before you grind and drink the coffee. If quakers are not removed from the batch, they tend to add a papery or cereal flavor to the coffee.

Burman Coffee Traders would love to help you along your home coffee roasting journey. Please contact us if you have any questions for us. If you are just starting out, our Ultimate Guide to Home Roasting Coffee Beans is a great place to start. 

Preventing coffee roasting defects takes a bit of trial and error. Starting a coffee journal will help you perfect your roasting skills. Learn more about what to track by reading our coffee journaling tips

How to Clean a Coffee Grinder – Blade and Burr Grinders

Coffee beans next to coffee grinds.

As a coffee aficionado, you may not think twice about splurging on your coffee-making paraphernalia. That’s because a flavorful cup of brewed coffee is just that important to you. Your coffee-making arsenal may include a high-quality blade or burr grinder. Many believe coffee grinders are the most important tool for brewing great-tasting coffee. If you invest in a superior coffee grinder, you expect it to not only help produce a flavorful cup of coffee but to have a reasonable lifespan. You can do your part by maintaining a clean coffee grinder.

Why is it important to keep your coffee grinder clean?

When brewing coffee, you have high taste expectations. Grinding coffee beans with a clean grinder helps ensure your expectations are met after that first sip. Without regular cleanings, oil and coffee grind buildup can negatively affect the taste of your coffee.

Darker roast coffee beans may have oilier surfaces, but all coffee beans contain oils despite the roast level. These oils are released when the beans are ground and can build up over repeated grindings. Over time, this oil buildup can go stale and rot. This oil can transfer to the grinds and affect the taste of your brewed coffee.

If you are a coffee lover, it’s likely you have different roasts and flavors of coffee beans on hand. When reaching for different coffee beans, you want to make sure your coffee grinder is clean. Using an unclean grinder will result in a less-than-pure cup. The previous beans’ grinds and oils can get mixed in with the new beans, tainting the flavor.

Cleaning is especially important for those who choose to grind spices using their blade grinder. Mixing ground spices in with your coffee will brew a less than desirable cup of coffee.

Just as important is how buildup can affect the operation and lifespan of your coffee grinder.

In fact, the buildup can result in uneven grinds, damaged burrs, and eventually lead to the grinder’s motor burning out.

Now you may be wondering how to clean your coffee grinder.

You may shake out your grinder after grinding a batch of coffee beans and think it looks relatively clean. At first glance, it may look clean because most of the leftover grinds are gone. However, the blades or burrs and the hopper likely have oil buildup.

How you clean your grinder will depend on whether you have a blade or burr grinder. 

Blade coffee grinder that needs to be cleaned.

Rice is an affordable cleaning agent for blade grinders:

  1. Put dry uncooked rice in the grinder. Use about a quarter cup or enough rice so that the blades are covered. Make sure to use instant or par-boiled rice as regular rice is harder and may damage the grinder’s blades.
  2. Run the grinder for about a minute.
  3. Pour out ground rice kernels. If you still notice coffee residue or oil remaining, consider grinding another batch of rice. You may notice the ground rice sticking to the blades. The oil buildup on the blades causes this.
  4. When you are done grinding the rice, unplug the grinder. Wipe inside of the grinder hopper and lid with a slightly damp cloth or paper towel. If you notice an odor, you may try wiping the inside of the hopper with a paper towel or cloth dampened slightly with vinegar.

You can use rice to clean your blade coffee grinder weekly or monthly depending on the frequency at which it is used. At the very least, clean your blade grinder once each month.

On the other hand, deep cleanings for burr grinders can be a bit more labor-intensive.

Electric burr coffee grinder needing cleaning.

Cleaning burr grinders can be more complicated because of the different moving parts. For more frequent light cleanings, using a soft towel or brush on these parts can suffice.

You can deep clean your burr grinder less frequently – about once per month.

The construction of burr grinders are generally the same but can differ slightly depending on the model. Because manual and electric burr grinders have the same basic mechanics, the cleaning process should generally be the same.

  1. Remove the grinder’s hopper. This is the receptacle that holds the roasted coffee beans. You should handwash the hopper and its lid with mild soap and water.
  2. Run the grinder for a short time to remove any remaining coffee grinds in the burrs.
  3. Unplug the coffee grinder.
  4. Locate all the removable plastic or rubber pieces that are exposed to the coffee beans in the grinder. Remove these pieces and handwash them thoroughly with mild soap and water. Use a small brush if necessary.
  5. Carefully remove the inner burr. You may need to use a tool to remove it.
  6. Using a brush, wipe away any coffee particles stuck in the inner and outer burrs. A wooden toothpick may come in handy to remove coffee stuck in any of the burrs’ crevices.
  7. To be extra thorough, you can use a vacuum with a hose attachment to get to those hard to reach coffee particles. Before turning on your vacuum, be sure there aren’t any loose pieces or screws around.
  8. As a final cleaning step, wipe down the burrs with a soft slightly damp towel. This will not only remove any remaining particles but it will also clean away any residual oils. Don’t forget to clean the chute leading to the coffee bin. A cotton swab is a perfectly sized tool for this task.
  9. The burr coffee grinder is ready to be reassembled once all the parts are fully dry. It is important that all parts are completely dry to avoid any corrosion or rust on the burrs or motor.
  10. After reassembly, grind a small amount of coffee. This will help to adjust the upper burr back into place. Also, grinding the coffee will release oils that lubricate or “season” the burrs to help prevent rusting.

Using cleaning tablets is an alternative method for cleaning burr grinders. 

As the cleaning tablets run through the burr grinder, they pull along any grinds or oils with them.

Follow these steps to use the cleaning tablet method:

  1. Unplug the burr grinder.
  2. Wipe away as much coffee and oil residue as possible using a soft brush and slightly damp towel.
  3. After plugging the grinder back in, run the grinder for a short period to remove any remaining coffee in the burrs.
  4. Based on the directions on the cleaning tablets package, pour the recommended amount into the hopper.
  5. Run the grinder until all the cleaning tablets run through the burrs and into the catch bin. Running at a medium grind level should suffice.
  6. Grind two smaller batches of roasted coffee beans to clean out any cleaning tablet residue left in the burrs.

If you choose to use cleaning tablets, use them to clean your grinder every few weeks. This will keep your grinder running smoothly and allow you to enjoy optimal tasting coffee. 

Ultimately, the frequency of deep cleanings will depend on how often you use your grinder. At the very minimum, follow the manual or cleaning tablet method every three months.

Some things to be aware of when cleaning your grinder:

  • Be sure not to use rice to clean your burr grinder. The grains are too hard and may cause damage to the burrs or motor. In addition, the starch may cause unwanted buildup on the burrs.
  • Do not run any part of the grinders (blade or burr) under running water or use any sprays as you run the risk of ruining the motor or cause rusting.
  • Cleaning more frequently with a soft brush or cloth will minimize the buildup of leftover coffee and oils. When the time comes to do a deeper cleaning, it will take less elbow grease. Most importantly, it will keep your grinder running smoothly and your coffee tasting just as you dream about.
  • Always refer to the burr or blade grinder product manuals for cleaning and disassembly instructions. Be aware of your grinder’s warranties and make sure the cleaning methods you choose do not void them.

Celebrate a clean coffee grinder with a pound or two of our green coffee beans. For tips on roasting your coffee beans at home, review our Ultimate Guide to Home Roasting Coffee Beans.

Coffee Storage Container Selection: Protect Your Coffee Beans

Coffee beans spilling from coffee storage container

Many coffee aficionados devote a great deal of time and effort to selecting their preferred coffee beans. Some have also invested in equipment to roast their favorite coffee beans at home. Whether they are green or already roasted coffee beans, proper storage is important. We have compiled some information to help you select the right coffee storage containers for your beans.

I have invested enough money in quality beans and roasting equipment. Why do I need to spend additional money on coffee storage containers?

The real question is, “Why would you not?”

If you have already made the time and financial investment to roast high-quality coffee beans, it makes sense to ensure they produce a flavorful cup of coffee you will enjoy.

Roasted coffee beans that are not stored properly can become stale with a musty smell. As a result, stale coffee beans will lose their distinguishing aroma. If you go so far as to brew these beans, it will produce a bitter-tasting cup of coffee. This is likely not your goal when you invest the time and money into your favorite coffee beans.

So, I am convinced I need coffee storage containers for my roasted beans. How will an effective container protect my coffee beans?

Effective coffee storage containers protect beans from heat, light, humidity, and airflow. 

Airtightness is an important aspect to consider when evaluating coffee storage containers. When exposed to air, the oils in the roasted coffee beans begin to evaporate. Prolonged exposure to oxygen is what leads to stale beans and ultimately a bitter-tasting brewed coffee. All the aromatics and acids that produce a flavorful cup of coffee begin to deteriorate when roasted beans are exposed to air.

Coffee storage containers also provide moisture protection for roasted beans. Without proper protection from moisture or humidity, roasted beans can spoil quickly. This is the case because coffee beans will easily absorb and retain moisture when exposed to air. 

Although not as damaging as air and moisture, light can have a negative effect on roasted coffee beans. Therefore a dark coffee storage container is important to protect the beans from light exposure. Overexposing roasted coffee beans to light can result in a flat-tasting cup of coffee. This is due to the breakdown of the chemical compounds that give roasted coffee beans their distinct flavors and characteristics. 

Heat protection is also important in preserving the flavors and aromatics of roasted coffee beans. Heat is a necessary component of the roasting process that brings out the beans’ flavors. However, after they have gone through the cooling process, additional heat will damage the roasted beans’ oils. Selecting the right storage container can help protect your beans from the damaging effects of heat. However, the location of your storage container will have a greater impact on the amount of heat to which your beans are exposed. Store it in a cool location away from direct light.

Can I store green coffee beans in the same type of coffee storage container?

Roasting coffee beans greatly diminishes their shelf life. When roasted and properly stored, many experts find that coffee beans can have a shelf life of up to six weeks. On the other hand, properly stored green coffee beans can last up to a year after being processed.

Similar to roasted ones, green coffee beans should be stored in cool, dry places with little or no direct sunlight. Experts find a darker location at room temperature and with a humidity level of approximately 60% will provide an ideal storage environment for green coffee beans.

Because the storage requirements are similar, green coffee beans can be stored in the same type of coffee storage containers recommended for roasted beans. However, unlike roasted coffee beans, green ones require some moisture to prevent them from drying out. Therefore, it is important, for longer storage periods, to periodically create some air circulation. Do this by uncovering the container and giving it a slight shake. This air circulation will prevent condensation from forming on the beans which could eventually lead to mold growth.

Recommended Coffee Storage Containers

Planetary Design Airspace Stainless Steel Coffee Storage Container

Planetary coffee storage container

This container comes in 32-ounce and 64-ounce sizes. The stainless steel not only gives it a sleek modern look but will also protect your coffee beans from harmful sunlight. Most importantly, the plunger-like top pushes out any air before it seals the container. This comes in handy as your stored coffee bean supply decreases over time.

In addition, these coffee storage containers contain a one-way valve that allows carbon dioxide to be released without allowing oxygen to enter.

These containers also come in a handful of bright colors to complement any kitchen decor. The ceramic version of this coffee storage container has the same functionality and also comes with an attractive bamboo lid.

Tightvac Coffeevac Storage Container

Tightvac coffee storage container

Unlike the Airspace containers which mimics vacuum sealing, Coffeevac coffee storage containers include a patented vacuum closure system. With the touch of a button, the closure system creates a partial vacuum. The ease of use is a strong attribute of this storage container. Similar to the Airspace containers, these include a valve allowing for the release of carbon dioxide without allowing oxygen to enter.

Be sure to choose a colored version as the clear Coffeevacs will not protect your beans from light. The Coffeevac comes in a variety of colors and sizes to meet your preferences and needs. 

Friis Stainless Steel Coffee Vault

This sturdy stainless steel coffee storage container has a BPA-free polymer lid that creates a seal to keep your coffee beans fresh and flavorful. The lid also includes freshness valves that allow carbon dioxide to escape.

The Friis Coffee Vault comes in a few different colors and is available in 12-ounce and 16-ounce sizes.

Black Plastic Valve Bags

A black plastic valve bag is a very affordable coffee storage container option. The one-way valve in the bag allows for carbon dioxide from degassing to be released while keeping oxygen out. The dark color of the bags ensures the coffee beans are protected from harmful light. These bags are reusable and come in a few different sizes.


Once you select the ideal coffee storage container, be sure to keep it in a suitable location. Cool dry places such as pantries and cabinets work well. However, you may prefer to display your selected coffee storage container on your counter because it is too pretty to hide behind closed doors. If this is the case, make sure it is not in direct sunlight or near a heat source such as a stovetop or dishwasher.

For more information about coffee beans and home coffee roasting, visit the Burman Coffee Learning Center.

Loose Leaf Tea vs. Conventional Teabags

Loose Leaf tea versus Traditional Tea Bags Burman Coffee

Teabags have been around since the early 1900s. They were initially invented to offer a convenient way to brew a single cup of tea. Using teabags would allow tea drinkers to avoid the perceived mess of loose leaf teas, and were a convenient way to completely remove tea leaves from the water all at once. This prevented tea leaves from being steeped too long and made it easier to clean the teapot in which the brewing occurred. 

It wasn’t until the 1950s that teabags gained significant popularity; this was the first decade in which convenience products were in high demand. With increased demand, companies began looking for the most economical way to mass-produce single-serving teabags. Nowadays, they are machine produced in large quantities, packaged, and stored in warehouses for longer periods of time. 

Size of Tea Leaf Pieces

Many conventional teabags contain leftovers of dust and “fannings” of picked tea leaves. Fannings are very small pieces that remain after whole and larger pieces of broken tea leaves are sorted. Fannings are used almost exclusively in teabags.

When steeped, broken pieces of tea leaves, relative to whole ones, have already lost at least some of their aroma and essential oils. Fannings have larger surface areas, causing the essential oils to evaporate more quickly than full-size tea leaves. This results in dull or stale teas. The primary benefit of steeping fannings and dust is the convenience of infusing more rapidly. This is beneficial for tea drinkers in a rush. However, it is worth noting that traditional tea preparations put a high priority on not rushing; for example, the careful and quiet preparation of matcha in the famous Japanese “tea ceremony” is centered around a very slow, calming and peaceful process.

When steeped, smaller pieces tend to be more bitter than full leaf teas as more tannins are infused. Tannins are naturally occurring compounds that are found in many plants, especially leaves and unripe fruits. When balanced with other flavors, tannins may contribute to a pleasant taste, but too much will make a tea virtually undrinkable (if you have ever grimaced at the taste of an over-steeped black tea, you know about tannins). 

There are also broken leaf teas at higher grades than fannings. These are labeled “Broken” and are typically not included in conventional teabags. Many “Broken” tea leaves are still very high quality even if they are several steps down from truly whole leaves. It is also worth noting that fannings and dust of high-grade teas can be more flavorful than the whole leaf versions of cheaper teas.

Differences in Caffeine Levels

The larger surface area of the broken tea leaves found in bagged tea results in higher levels of caffeine extraction during steeping. This extraction occurs more quickly than in full-leaf or higher grade teas.

However, there are many factors affecting caffeine levels besides size. These include the variety, whether tips (buds) or stems are used from the plant, and the steeping method. All natural teas, including white, green, and black teas contain caffeine. Rooibos and other herbal infusions are naturally decaffeinated. Teas made with tips/buds (newer leaves) tend to have higher caffeine levels than those made with older leaves or the stem. In addition, tea leaves that have been brewed with hotter water for a longer period of time will produce a more caffeinated cup of tea than those that are steeped with cooler water for a shorter period of time. Considering all the factors affecting caffeine content in teas, it would be inaccurate to make the generalization that conventional teabags produce more caffeine relative to loose leaf teas.

Taste

Teabags purchased from a grocery store will likely have the same flavor profile year to year as they are mass-produced and standardized. Companies producing these bagged teas prioritize cost and consistency. On the other hand, loose leaf teas are processed based on region, and the yearly or seasonal differences due to changes in climate and growing conditions are embraced. These differences may be reflected in the taste and aroma. As a result, loose leaf teas offer a wider range of flavor profiles compared to the dull standardized flavors of teabags found in grocery stores. 

Differences in taste between loose leaf and bagged teas are particularly noticeable with green and white teas. Bagged green and white teas tend to be stale and bitter compared to loose leaf versions. Bagged black tea is thought to produce a decent cup. However, it does not offer the flavor varieties present with loose leaf versions.

It is also worthwhile to note that bagged teas often lose flavor after one steeping while loose leaf teas can be steeped several times to brew flavorful tea.

Health Benefits

The health benefits of tea vary across types. Green, white, and black teas are found to be high in antioxidants, while green and white teas also include catechins and theanine. These compounds provide an array of health benefits. It is thought that bagged tea, with its fannings and dust, provide a much lower level of health benefits. This is due to the essential oils already being lost when the tea leaves were broken into small pieces. In addition, with the mass production of teabags, it is likely they contain highly processed and older tea. Over time, tea loses the potency of health benefits. It is also believed the bag itself filters out some of the vitamins during the steeping process.

Teabag Varieties

The teabag itself contributes to the quality and taste of the brewed tea. Because full leaves will offer more flavor and antioxidants, the size and material of the teabag matter. Conventional teabags are made with paper material that constricts the flow of water. It also prevents tea leaves from expanding to maximize flavor. Often this paper is bleached and can add unwanted chemicals and flavors to the cup.

Open weave sachets address some of the issues with water flow, allowing fuller flavor extraction from the tea leaves. These higher-quality, larger teabags come in pouches, “socks”, and pyramid shapes that can hold full leaf tea or larger broken leaves.

Despite the improvements in teabag types, there is no match to the flavor and aroma produced when steeping loose leaf tea. This can be done directly in the water or using an infuser. Without the restriction of a bag, the extraction of flavors, vitamins, minerals, and aromas from the leaves is maximized. Steeping tea this way gives the larger tea leaf pieces the opportunity to fully expand in the hot water, more so than when any type of teabag is used.

Teabags can be more economical and can offer more convenient steeping and cleanup. However, nothing beats the flavors, aroma, and health benefits enjoyed from steeping loose leaf teas directly in the water. Take the time to try a loose leaf tea that matches your flavor preferences – you won’t be disappointed. Read about the premium selection of freshly sourced teas we offer. If you need help, contact us and we can help you make your final selection. 

Once your premium tea has been delivered, be sure to visit our site to learn how to steep the perfect cup of tea.

8 Gifts for Coffee Lovers

Gifts for Coffee Lovers

As the holiday season approaches, it’s likely your to-do list is already quite long. Shopping for gifts is only one of the many things you need to get done. With 40% of the U.S. population drinking coffee on a daily basis, it’s quite possible you have a devoted coffee drinker on your list. Consider gifting a coffee-related item that won’t get banished to the top shelf of a closet collecting dust. To help simplify your gift-buying process, here are our suggested gifts for coffee lovers on your list.

FreshRoast SR 540 Coffee Roaster

Fresh Roast SR 540 Coffee Roaster Gift for Coffee Lovers

You may have coffee aficionados in your life who are either seasoned home roasters or have only expressed an interest in home roasting. Either way, the Fresh Roast SR 540 Coffee Roaster offers just the right features at an affordable price. The manufacturers of Fresh Roast Coffee Roasters have improved upon the well-loved SR 500 model. Experienced home coffee roasters will welcome the nine heat levels (increased from three), while beginners will appreciate the simplified control panel. Through the use of convection, fluid bed roasters roast coffee beans more evenly. They also roast in about half the time when compared to their drum roaster counterparts. In addition, the real-time temperature readout feature on the SR 540 takes the guesswork out of the roasting process. Overall, the Fresh Roast SR 540 gives users a perfect level of control making it an excellent gift for any coffee lover. $189 w/ Free Shipping (contiguous US only), Free Coffee & a Free Gift.

Baratza Encore Coffee Grinder

Baratza Encore Coffee Grinder Gift for Coffee Lovers

The most discerning coffee brewers know that conical burr coffee grinders produce the most consistent grinds for a variety of coffees. The Baratza Encore Coffee Grinder is an economical choice for high-quality grinding of roasted coffee beans. Coffee industry experts have tested and found this coffee grinder to produce superior coffee relative to comparable ones on the market. With 40 steps of adjustment, the Baratza Encore Coffee Grinder is the ideal gift for coffee lovers. It is particularly ideal for those who enjoy experimenting with different coffee brewing methods that require different grind sizes. 

When gifting this grinder, you can be sure the recipient will be enjoying a high-quality device with a powerful but quiet motor and a well-constructed gearbox. $139 w/ Free Shipping (contiguous US) and a free pound of un-roasted coffee!

Home Coffee Roasting by Kenneth Davids

Home Coffee Roasting Book Gift for Coffee Lovers

Most coffee drinkers continue to brew their daily dose of caffeine at home according to the National Coffee Association’s (NCA) most recent National Coffee Data Trends (NCDT) report. Many of these homebrewers have expanded their coffee routine beyond fancy grinders and coffee makers to home coffee bean roasting. Coffee drinkers who are interested in roasting beans at home, but are intimidated by the thought of it, will find Kenneth Davids’s book, Home Coffee Roasting to be a valuable resource. The book presents information about home coffee bean roasting in an undaunting way. It is the ideal gift for coffee lovers who have an interest in taking control of the taste and freshness of their home-brewed coffee.

Stainless Steel Coffee Growler

Coffee Growler Gift for Coffee Lovers

Sometimes a travel mug’s worth of coffee is just not enough to sustain a person for the entire day. Whether they prefer theirs hot or cold, a Stainless Steel Coffee Growler is the quintessential gift for coffee lovers on your shopping list. The double-walled stainless steel container will keep their coffee hot for up to 12 hours or cold for 24 hours. Because it’s built to be durable and rugged, it is safe to take along on hikes and traveling adventures. In addition, the lifetime warranty makes it well worth the investment for that special coffee drinker in your life. This growler is also available in the following colors: Fern, Slate, and Copper. To thank you, maybe the recipient will be inclined to share a cup of freshly brewed coffee with you.

Chemex Coffee Maker

Chemex Coffee Maker Gift for Coffee Lovers

There is something about brewing your coffee in an elegantly designed coffee maker. If you are looking for gifts for coffee lovers who have graceful style, the Chemex 10 Cup Coffee Maker may be a fitting option. It was selected by the Illinois Institute of Technology as one of the 100 best-designed products of modern times. This well-designed Chemex Coffee Maker can create the perfect cup of coffee when used with Chemex-Bonded Coffee Filters. The high-quality non-porous glass used in this simple but elegantly designed coffee maker does not retain odors or chemical residues. As a result, Chemex Coffee Makers produce a clean flavorful taste that isn’t tainted from previous batches of coffee brewed with different coffee grinds. The size of the Chemex 10 Cup Coffee Maker is the perfect gift for the elegant coffee lover who enjoys sharing a cup of coffee with friends. 

This video walks you through the process of brewing coffee with a Chemex Coffee Maker.

Nesco Electric Water Kettles

Nesco Electric Water Kettle Gift for Coffee Lovers

A Nesco Electric Water Kettle is the ultimate gift for coffee lovers who enjoy the pour-over method of brewing coffee. Because it boils water faster than a microwave, it saves coffee drinkers precious time in their usually hectic mornings. As an added bonus, these water kettles use half the energy of stovetops. The basic Nesco Electric Water Kettle comes with a removable and easy to clean water filter and built-in cord storage in the base. Nesco’s Variable Temperature Electric Water Kettle has all the features of the basic model, but with the added feature of variable temperatures settings – Boil, 200°, 190°, and 175°.

Green Coffee Beans

Green Coffee Beans Gift for Coffee Lovers

Green coffee beans are an exceptional gift idea alone or as a complement to other coffee-related items. The 3-lb Popular and Special Bundles offer a variety of tastes to the coffee drinkers on your list who enjoy home roasting. The Popular Bundle currently includes coffee beans harvested in Colombia, Guatemala, and Mexico. The Guatemalan beans in this bundle are easy to roast, making them an excellent choice for less experienced home roasters. The Colombian and Mexican coffee beans produce a fuller-bodied coffee.

The Special Bundle currently includes green coffee beans from Ethiopia, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. All three of these varieties offer some degree of sweetness and fruitiness. This Bundle is a great option for those coffee drinkers/roasters who enjoy the taste of medium roast blends. 

Either Bundle will be a well-appreciated gift for coffee lovers. While you are at it, order a bundle or two for yourself. You can compare notes on taste and roast levels with the coffee fans in your life. 

Handmade Gifts Made with Burlap Coffee Bags

Handmade Burlap Coffee Bag Gift for Coffee Lovers

Are you looking to add a personal touch to gifts for the coffee lovers in your life? If so, a burlap coffee bag creation may be the answer. Recipients will be touched by a handmade gift you spent time to create. An item created from a burlap coffee bag can be an affordable gift they will treasure. Whether it’s an apron, a pillow, or some wall art, your handmade gift for the coffee lover on your list will be much appreciated. It will allow them to express their affinity for their favorite brewed drink. Remember, the burlap coffee bags available for purchase will undoubtedly have imperfections. However, they will add to the charm and authenticity of your handmade creations.

All these gifts for coffee lovers can be found at Burman Coffee Traders. Please visit our site to find additional home coffee roasters, accessories, and green coffee bean options. Not to mention, we offer free shipping and green coffee beans with the purchase of our coffee grinders and home coffee roasters. In addition, our Chemex coffee makers include 100 Chemex square coffee filters.

If you are looking for additional help with selecting a gift for a coffee lover, please contact us. We would be happy to help.

Dark Roast vs. Light Roast Coffee Beans: What are the Differences Between the Two?

Differences between light roast and dark roast coffee beans go beyond color. You may have already learned longer roasting times give dark roast coffee beans their almost black color. 

Besides roasting times and darker color, what are the distinguishing characteristics of light roast vs. dark roast coffee beans?

Let’s dig a little deeper to better understand how varying roasting times bring out differences in roasted coffee beans.

Dark Roast Coffee Beans Are More Full-Bodied and Have Bolder Flavors

What does it mean when coffee is “full-bodied”?

Let’s take a step back and define “body” as it relates to brewed coffee. Body is a characteristic describing the feeling or weight of a drink in one’s mouth. It is therefore sometimes known as “mouthfeel”. It can be described with words such as thin, light, heavy, or full. For comparison, whole milk has a heavier or fuller body, while skim milk has a thinner or lighter one. Some find the best way to get a sense of a coffee’s body is to let it rest on your tongue and rub it against the roof of your mouth.

The longer roasting time of dark roast coffee beans produces oils on the exterior. You may have noticed dark roast beans’ shinier surface. When brewed, these oils create the thicker, more full-bodied texture of dark roast coffee.

So is the darkest roast the most “full-bodied”?

In general, dark roast is more full-bodied relative to light roast coffee. However, coffee beans begin to lose body at a certain roasting point. Medium dark roasts tend to have the fullest, while darker roast beans have less body.

Darker roast coffees are known to have stronger and more distinct flavor profiles. 

Check out green coffee beans that are great dark roast candidates.

What is a flavor profile? 

A flavor profile describes the relative intensity of aromas, tastes, and aftertastes in a food. Flavor profiles can also be related to textures and sensory attributes. Therefore, it is often mentioned when referring to the “body” of a drink.

In comparison, the flavor of light roast coffees is usually described as sweeter and brighter. When coffee is described as bright, it refers to the higher levels of acidity and “tanginess”. A bright flavor also indicates a drier aftertaste.

Learn more about the body, flavor profiles, and other taste qualities of good coffee.

Light Roast Coffee Retains More of the Original Tastes of the Bean Relative to Dark Roast Coffee

Coffee beans’ origins play a role in the resulting flavor of brewed coffee. Each growing region will produce coffee beans with distinct flavor characteristics. The longer the beans are roasted, the more these flavors are masked. Higher quality coffees are sold as light roasts so unique flavors of different regions can be fully enjoyed.

Here are some examples of coffee growing regions and the flavor profiles associated with the coffee beans produced there:

  • Ethiopia – Bright, complex, fruity
  • Kenya – Acidic, sweet, notes of berry
  • India – Smooth, creamy, mild
  • Indonesia – Low Acidity, deep earthy flavors
  • Brazil – Chocolatey, nutty, light acidity
  • Colombia – Varies greatly region to region; from smooth with a chocolate finish to bright and fruity

Learning more about regional variations will help you select your favorite coffee.

If you are looking for coffee with a more complex taste, stick with light roast coffee beans. A complex flavored cup of coffee will reward you with many different taste accents.

Experiment with different roast levels and regional coffees. Bundle specials offer green coffee beans usually from different regions.

Both Light and Dark Roast Coffees Have Health Benefits, But They Differ

Recently there has been a great deal of research devoted to identifying the health benefits of coffee. In general, research has found some evidence that coffee consumption reduces the risk of liver cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and heart failure. Studies have also found drinking coffee lowers your risk of experiencing depression or suffering from Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.

But is light roast coffee healthier than dark roast coffee?

This is not necessarily the case. Research has found both to have health benefits.

Lighter roast coffees have a higher concentration of an antioxidant known as polyphenol chlorogenic acid (CGA). This antioxidant is what creates the acidic taste of coffee. CGA is the main component responsible for coffee’s health benefits. Because it’s an antioxidant, it has the ability to help reduce inflammation, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure. It can also help fight the signs of aging in your skin. Less CGA is present in darker roasts as it gets broken down during the roasting process. Note that the quality of the original (green) coffee bean contributes to the CGA level as well. High quality organic green coffee beans will have the highest level of CGA.

What are the health benefits of darker roast coffees?

Darker roast coffees have their health benefits as well. N-methylpyridinium is present in higher levels the longer the coffee beans are roasted. Research has shown this chemical reduces the amount of excess acid produced in the stomach. Those who experience stomach irritations when drinking coffee are likely better off selecting coffee brewed with darker roast beans.

The longer the roasting time, the more phenylindanes are produced in the coffee beans. Phenylindanes are the result of the chemical breakdown of chlorogenic acid lactone. They are responsible for the bitter taste of dark roast coffee. Despite the bitter taste, Phenylindanes are healthy for the brain. They prevent the buildup of proteins responsible for conditions related to the nervous system’s deterioration. These conditions include Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Compared to light roast, dark roast coffee has also been found to more effectively replenish vitamin E and glutathione in the blood. Vitamin E helps to protect cells from damage. It is also an important antioxidant that keeps the immune system strong. This antioxidant is also thought to play a role in lowering the risk of heart disease, cancer, and dementia. When your body produces healthy levels of glutathione, your body experiences many health benefits. These include reduced inflammation, deceleration of aging, and the prevention of mental health conditions.

The Caffeine Myth – Dark Roast vs. Light Roast Coffee

It is worth mentioning the caffeine levels in dark roast vs. light roast coffee. It was once believed that dark roast coffee contains more caffeine than light roast. However, this is not the case. The roasting process reduces the density of the coffee bean, but not the caffeine content.

Check out our blog post covering the caffeine content in coffee to get the full scoop on caffeine levels in coffee beans.

If you are a decaf coffee drinker, you may be interested in learning how decaffeinated coffee beans are processed and roasted.

Browse the selection of decaffeinated green coffee beans from a variety of regions.

Personal taste and preference will likely play a large role when choosing between dark roast vs. light roast coffees. Be sure to try coffee beans from different regions. Roast these beans at varying levels before making your final decision. You may be delightfully surprised.

Compare a variety of home coffee roasters and review The Ultimate Guide to Home Roasting Coffee Beans to begin your home coffee roasting journey.

Coffee Grinders: Selecting the Best One for Your Home Roasted Coffee Beans

buying and using a burr coffee grinder

Imagine waking up in the morning, eager to drink your first freshly brewed coffee of the day, only to disappoint your eager taste buds with a stale and flavorless liquid. You can avoid this scenario with the right coffee grinder.

Before you even take your first sip, the absence of the delicious aroma of freshly brewed coffee will likely be a huge letdown as well. This could become a reality for you if the ground coffee you purchased from a retail outlet is past its prime. Ground coffee loses its flavor more quickly than roasted coffee beans. You may find it advantageous to invest in a high-quality grinder if you are a home coffee brewer.

Why do I need a coffee grinder?

Consider how much money is wasted when throwing out stale ground coffee.

Having a grinder at your disposal will allow you to grind only the amount of beans needed for each batch of coffee, greatly decreasing your chances of wasting unused coffee grounds.

How do I choose the best one?

Let’s start off with the types available – blade and burr. 

coffee grinding
Blade coffee grinder

Blade grinders are the most cost-efficient and their movement is similar to that of a blender. The blades spin at a high-speed chopping roasted coffee beans and not actually grinding them. These grinders are also known as coffee mills.

Burr grinders get their name from the two revolving rough surfaces (burrs) that grind the coffee beans. Moving between the burrs, the coffee beans are ground a few at a time. There are many options to consider if you are interested in purchasing a burr grinder and they are sold within a wide price range. Things to consider are the size, power source (manual vs. electric), and the shape of the burrs (conical vs. flat).

So which type is better when comparing blade vs. burr coffee grinders?

Here are some things to consider when choosing between blade and burr grinders:

1. Price

Blade grinders would be your choice if you are looking for the least expensive option. In most cases, you get what you pay for when price is your main criteria. Blade grinders come with fewer options and tend to have a shorter lifespan.

Some may find blade grinders to be an attractive option if they plan on using theirs to grind other things such as spices, giving them more bang for their buck. However, without a thorough cleaning, grinding other things with your grinder will likely affect the coffee taste.

When it comes to burr grinders, consider purchasing a manual one which will give you a consistent grind without the higher price of an electric version. However, what you don’t pay in dollars, you pay in labor.

2. Grind Size

With blade grinders, you cannot adjust the grind size as you can with burr grinders. In fact, blade grinders chop up the coffee beans into pieces of varying size. On the other hand, the grind size from burr grinders is more uniform.

Coffee Grinder infographic

You might be wondering why coffee grind size even matters.

The grind size will affect the overall flavor of your coffee. To get the most flavorful cup of coffee, the optimal grind size will depend on your brewing method. Pairing the wrong grind size and brewing method may result in coffee that is under- or over-extracted. You can use this guide to help you find the right combination.

There is even more to consider when you are looking to produce a finer coffee grind.

Producing a finer grind requires the coffee beans to be ground (or chopped) for a longer period of time. The high speed at which blade grinders rotate generates heat, ultimately resulting in a brewed coffee with a scorched or burnt flavor.

Bottom line: A burr grinder will produce a more flavorful cup of coffee.

3. Preparation Time

Undoubtedly, self-grinding your coffee beans will increase your total coffee preparation time. Coffee lovers would likely agree that it is well worth the extra time to optimize the flavor from your coffee beans.

As you make your purchase decision, it’s important to consider how much coffee you make on a regular basis. Blade grinders and electric burr grinders will grind coffee beans more quickly than manual burr grinders. The time difference may not be a significant issue when grinding beans for a single serving of coffee. However, your coffee prep time may increase considerably when brewing larger batches. 

Manual coffee grinder
Manual coffee grinder

Considering all the factors, most coffee aficionados will agree that burr grinders give them the highest return in flavor on their investment in high-quality coffee beans. The adjustments available with burr grinders also allow devoted coffee drinkers to more easily experiment with flavors by adjusting the grind size and brewing methods.

If you’re convinced a burr grinder is the optimal choice, you may be wondering…

What’s the difference between Conical and Flat Burr Coffee Grinders?

Besides the shape of the burrs, differences between the two types of burr grinders include: 

  • Grind Size Consistency – Flat burr grinders produce a more consistent grind size, but the difference really can’t be detected without the aid of a microscope. The less consistent grind size of conical burr grinders is desirable when brewing espresso.
  • Cleaning – Their shape makes flat burr grinders more difficult to clean as more grounds become trapped in the burrs relative to the conical shaped ones. When grinding different types of coffee beans, trapped grounds from previous grindings can affect the flavor of your next cup of coffee. 
  • Price – Conical grinders are more cost-effective than flat burr grinders due to their slower motor. A less powerful motor results in less heat and noise generation.

Conical burr grinders are more commonly used with home coffee brewing. 

There are many other “bells and whistles” you may consider when selecting your grinder including the number of settings/adjustments, timers, and digital displays. 

If you are interested in investing in a conical burr grinder with advanced design, the Baratza Sette 30 AP is a great option to consider. Its revolutionary design allows it to operate more efficiently at a reasonable price. 

See all of our Best Coffee Grinders here.