Understanding the Differences Between Coffee and Espresso

espresso maker pulling shots

Despite what many may think, espresso is a form of coffee. So the real question becomes, “what makes espresso different from all other brewed coffees?” Price immediately comes to mind when considering this question. Because of its higher cost, espresso has gained a reputation for being a fancier way to get your coffee fix. The expensive machine and skilled baristas may be the driving factors behind the high price. However, besides the price, what is the difference between espresso and all other brewed coffee drinks?

Before highlighting the differences, let’s take a quick step back to learn the history of the two drinks.

What is the History of Coffee?

The history of coffee goes back thousands of years. Over time, roasting and brewing methods have evolved based on the differing tastes in various countries. The early 1800s brought the French Press, while Joseph-Henry-Marie Laurens introduced the percolator later that same century. Because the percolator often produced a bitter-tasting coffee from overcooked grounds, the coffee filter was a welcome invention in the early 1900s.

What is the History of Espresso?

The word “espresso” actually refers to the process used to create the well-known drink. Most believe it originated in Italy, where Angelo Moriondo invented the espresso machine’s first form in the late 1800s. In 1901, Luigi Bezzera made improvements to Moriondo’s creation and patented his device. It became what we now know as the espresso machine.

Again, Let’s Reitirate that Espresso is a Type of Coffee.

If you order a coffee (or a caffè) in Italy, the barista will serve you what we know here in the United States as an espresso. A Caffè Americano in Italy is the equivalent to filtered coffee in the U.S.

Espresso is an intense form of coffee, served in shots. Many coffee drinks use espresso as a base. These drinks, likely served at your favorite local cafe, include lattes, cappuccinos, mochas, macchiatos, and americanos. Over the years, cafes created many other creative espresso-based coffee drinks to satisfy the varying tastes of coffee fans. 

There are no distinctions between beans used to brew espresso and other coffee with regard to growing and processing. They all come from the same coffee plants and go through the same processing methods.

For this article, “coffee” refers to all other types besides espresso.

What is the Difference Between Espresso and Other Coffee Beans as it Relates to Roasting?

Some believe they can make espresso using any type of roast. Most others find darker roasts provide the bolder flavor characteristic of the drink. The “espresso coffee beans” label only indicates they are one of the darker roasts.  Roasters label them as “espresso beans” to indicate they are a favorable choice for brewing espresso. However, these beans can be used to make coffee using other brewing methods. 

The dark roast of “espresso beans” holds up well under the high-pressure espresso process, producing a bold, intense flavor profile. Using lighter roasts in an espresso machine would result in a less flavorful coffee uncharacteristic of espresso.

In summary, there is nothing incredibly unique about the roasting process for what roasters label as “espresso coffee beans”. They are roasted longer than some other coffee beans, but the roasting process does not differ in any other way. It is possible to brew a fabulous shot of espresso using other dark roast coffee beans that aren’t labeled as “espresso beans”.

Are Espresso Coffee Beans Ground Differently Than Other Types of Coffee Beans?

Coffee aficionados reserve the finest ground beans for Turkish coffee. Those who drink Turkish coffee brew it using a powder-like grind. Although it doesn’t have the finest grind, espresso has a finer grind than most other coffees. 

Overall, the ideal grind size is dependent on the brewing method. Espresso’s high-pressure rapid brewing process requires a much finer grind than most other coffees. The goal is to be able to brew espresso between 24 and 30 seconds. Too fine of an espresso grind could cause the filter in the espresso machine to clog. A clogged filter leads to over-extraction, producing bitter tasting espresso. On the other hand, an overly coarse grind could cause the brewing time to be too short. This coarse grind leads to under-extraction, resulting in a weak and sour tasting shot. 

It is possible to brew espresso using a coarser grind, but this is only if another espresso brewing method is used. Details for espresso brewing methods without a machine are outlined later in the article. 

In general, burr grinders are superior to blade grinders because it produces grinds more uniform in size. However, you can more often get away with using a blade grinder for coffee than you can with espresso.

How Does the Brewing Process Differ Between Espresso and Coffee?

The most apparent difference is an espresso machine is usually used to brew espresso. On the other hand, there are numerous ways to brew coffee. The types of coffee brewing methods include drip, pour-over, and immersion. 

When a machine is used to make espresso, boiling steam is forced through fine, tightly packed coffee grounds under high pressure. 

However, as briefly mentioned before, espresso lovers can avoid the machines’ high cost by utilizing a few other brewing methods. Instead of a machine, you can brew espresso using a Moka pot, which works like a steam percolator. The fabulous AeroPress uses hand pressure and a paper filter to produce a concentrated cup similar to an expresso. These alternative methods extract a little less than high pressure steam, but many find them to be affordable, acceptable alternatives.

However, these other techniques do not produce high-quality crema like the high-end machines. Crema gives espresso “fuller flavor and a longer aftertaste”.

You can brew a richly satisfying cup of coffee using multiple methods. This is also the case for espresso. However, many find machines produce an unmatched espresso flavor.

Is Espresso More Caffeinated Than Coffee?

Ounce for ounce, espresso is more caffeinated than coffee because it is highly concentrated. One ounce (one shot) of espresso has an average of 63 mg of caffeine, while one ounce of caffeinated coffee averages 12 to 16 mg of caffeine. However, coffee drinkers do not consume espresso and coffee in comparable amounts. A typical 8-ounce cup of coffee will have around 96 to 128 mg of caffeine – more than a shot of espresso.

Review our blog post on Caffeine Content in Coffee to learn more about what impacts caffeine levels.

Ultimately, the more significant differences between espresso and coffee lie in the grinding and brewing and less on the roasting of the beans. You can make coffee can be made with “espresso roast” coffee beans, and you can brew espresso with dark roast beans not specifically labeled as “espresso”. 

Burman Coffee offers a variety of green coffee beans perfect for dark roasts. Full flavor and body are characteristics of our BCT Espresso Blend. It’s ideal for espresso, cafe americano, or milk-based espresso drinks. For decaffeinated espresso drinkers, Decaffeinated Brazil Sul de Minas- MWP is an excellent option for smooth, rich espresso shots.

Compare the coffee roasters we offer to find the one that meets your needs at a price within your budget.

We also carry the Baratza Sette 270 Coffee Grinder with multiple macro and micro adjust steps to help you find the perfect espresso grind. The Baratza Sette 30 AP is a more economical choice with the AP grinder burr that will give you grinds that work well with any level espresso machine. 

We can help you with the decisions. Contact us, and we will be more than happy to share our coffee expertise with you.

What is Fair Trade Coffee & How it Differs From Direct Trade?

Hands holding coffee cherries

In the most recent annual forecast for 2020/21, the International Coffee Organization estimates over 10.5 million tons of coffee beans will be produced worldwide. A small proportion of these coffee beans will be grown and harvested adhering to fair trade standards. This coffee is known as fair trade coffee. 

When you go to purchase coffee from your local roaster or grocery store, you may notice some packages include fair trade labeling. It’s worth taking the time to understand what those labels mean and ultimately the story behind the coffee.

So, What is Fair Trade Coffee?

Let’s start off by reviewing what the term “fair trade” means. “Fair trade” is an exchange arrangement. This agreement allows producers in developing countries to sell their goods to buyers or companies in developed countries. The purchase is made at set minimum prices.

As part of this agreement, coffee farmers (producers) follow standards set forth by various fair trade organizations. By following these practices, the coffee farmers are able to get fair trade certification. This can be obtained through an organization such as Fairtrade International.

Fair trade standards center around areas such as workers’ rights, land management, and labor practices. For example, fair trade coffee farmers are not allowed to employ child or forced labor. In relation to the environment, participating farmers cannot utilize genetically modified organisms (GMOs). This is in addition to many other environment-friendly practices.

What Are Requirements for Businesses?

As part of this agreement, buyer companies pay a minimum price for the coffee beans. This minimum price allows for some stability for farmers growing a commodity with world prices that can be highly volatile. In addition to this minimum price, coffee farmers are paid a premium. They use this premium to invest in their business, environmental sustainability, and their communities. Certifying organizations such as Fairtrade International set minimum prices and premiums.

Businesses who want to use the Fairtrade label on their coffee products must apply for a license from the organization to do so. Besides coffee, fair trade products include sugar, cocoa, bananas, and cotton, among many other food and non-food products. However, fair trade is most well-established with coffee. It is a highly traded commodity in producing countries. In addition, the need for fair trade among coffee farmers is great. They tend to be smaller producers who would have less clout in establishing prices.

What is the Size of the Fair Trade Coffee Market?

Fairtrade International has shared data (2019) on its member coffee producers. As previously mentioned, Fairtrade International is one of several organizations establishing fair trade standards and administering certifications.

  • Fairtrade International’s 582 coffee producer organizations represent 760K farmers. These coffee producer organizations make up about one-third of its total number of producer organizations.
  • Latin America and the Caribbean produced the majority (86%) of Fairtrade certified coffee.
  • Half of all Fairtrade certified farmers produce coffee.

Another organization, Fair Trade USA has over 800K fair trade coffee farmers in its system. These farmers produced 176 million pounds of fair trade certified coffee in 2018.

Side note: Fair Trade USA broke off from Fairtrade International in 2012 to develop its own standards. Fairtrade International, an umbrella organization, is the largest fair trade certification company. 

What is the Difference Between Fairtrade and Fair Trade Certified Coffee?

All fair trade coffee is not necessarily the same, specifically as it relates to the producer. For example, one of the main differences between Fairtrade and Fair Trade Certified coffee is the latter may have been produced by large scale plantations. On the other hand, Fairtrade Certified coffee was produced by smaller farmers. However, both organizations work to ensure fair wages for workers/farmers, protect the environment, and invest back into the farming communities. 

It’s best to visit Fairtrade International, Fair Trade USA, and other fair trade organizations’ websites to learn more about their standards and the work they do.

What is Direct Trade Coffee and How is it Different From Fair Trade Coffee?

Many larger roasters bypass the certifications from fair trade organizations. Instead, they decide to establish a direct relationship with coffee farmers. Coffee sourced in this manner is known as direct trade coffee. 

While fair trade organizations establish the minimum price paid to fair trade coffee farmers, direct trade relationships focus on quality. In other words, premium prices are directly linked to better quality coffee beans. This can result in higher prices for coffee farmers instead of being tied to a price established by a fair trade organization.

Other possible benefits of direct trade relationships include direct payment from buyers to coffee farmers, more transparency, and traceability. 

Inversely, possible drawbacks are lack of oversight and a continuously evolving definition of “direct trade”.

For example, in many cases, direct trade coffee requires building relationships with independent brokers and importers. Doing so makes it easier to find and transport coffee from overseas. However, many believe coffee sourced in this way should not be considered as direct trade because there is an intermediary involved. 

Whether through fair trade or direct trade, the idea is to ensure coffee farmers are receiving fair compensation for what they produce. In addition, it is important that these fair prices allow them to sustain and continuously improve their operations, environment, and communities.

Burman Coffee’s Relationship with Coffee Farmers

At Burman Coffee, we source many of the green coffee beans we offer directly from farmers in different parts of the world. Although we may not be a fair trade certified buyer, we believe in working with farmers to produce the highest quality green coffee beans. Most importantly, we ensure the coffee farmers we work with are paid fair compensation for their premium specialty coffee.

The following are just some examples of the specialty direct trade coffees we offer in our online store:

All Hawaiian Coffees
All Haitian Coffees*
Bolivian Apolo*
Brazil Primavera
Colombian Café Social
Costa Rican Lajas* (Finca Los Angeles, Finca San Luis)
Dominican Ramirez Estate*
Guatemalan Finca La Esperanza* (Los Cedros, Las Plantas)
Guatemalan Finca Vista Hermosa and Finca De Dios
Indonesian Bali Blue Moon
Mexican Terruño Nayartia (Natural Gr. 1 Reserve, Org. Washed Gr. 1 Reserve)
Nicaraguan Selva Negra
Papua New Guinea Carpenter Estates

(*Sourced via personal coffee industry connections.)

We are committed to continually strengthening our valued relationships with coffee farmers. If you have any questions regarding our direct trade relationships or our green coffee bean selection, please contact us.

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 of South America, close to the equator and connected to Central America via Panama. An area known as the Coffee Triangle produces the majority of Colombia’s coffee. It is located in the Paisa region on the western side 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 that 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

Cup of coffee and spoon on a stump

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 decaffeinated beans removes 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 reabsorb the lost flavor compounds. 

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

3. Water Processing

High-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 used on similar 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 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 sitting on top of pile of 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. Store in a sealed 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

Coffee beans spilling out of cup

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. When you purchase roasted coffee beans from your local cafe or grocery store, the bag usually has a degassing valve. However, if you are buying freshly roasted coffee beans from your local roaster or you roast your own coffee at home, you most likely will need to degas the beans on your own.

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.

Learn more about the Science of Coffee Roasting.

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.

Make sure you select an optimal grinder for your home roasted coffee beans.

  • Find a variety of high-quality coffee grinders available for purchase with free shipping and one pound of premium green coffee beans included.

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.

  • Try Burman Coffee’s 3-pound Dark Bundle for a selection of three green coffee bean varieties perfect for dark roast.

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.

Learn more about the differences between light and dark roast coffee beans.

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. The degassing valve also prevents oxygen from entering the container. The carbon dioxide escapes slowly through the degassing valve- 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.

Vacuum packing has been a popular way to protect roasted coffee beans from light, moisture, and oxygen. However, without a degassing valve, it requires the beans to be completely degassed before storage. Doing so sacrifices much of the aroma and flavor brought on by the aging process of the roasted beans.

  • Check out these storage bags with degassing valves to store your home-roasted coffee beans. They are available in a few different sizes.

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

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.


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 and cup of coffee on a table

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in 2019 and has been updated to include more coffee gift ideas for the upcoming holidays.

The holidays may look a bit different for us this year. Although we may not be able to gather with many of our friends and family, we can still send out our well-wishes and holiday gifts. In these stressful times, a warm cup of coffee can bring much-needed comfort for many of us. If you do have family and friends who are coffee fans, you will find this updated shopping guide helpful as you seek to bring cheer to your loved ones. In this guide, we have highlighted the top gifts for coffee lovers below. Our guide has been updated and expanded from our coffee gift ideas list from last year.

Home Coffee Bean Roasters Come in a Variety of Sizes and Price Points.

Whether the coffee enthusiasts in your life are seasoned home roasters or have only expressed an interest in home roasting, there is an excellent selection of roasters available.

sr 800
The Fresh Roast SR 800 Coffee Roaster is an excellent gift choice for those serious about home roasting coffee.

It is a fluid bed coffee roaster described as “easy-to-use” with a quick roasting process. Through convection, fluid bed roasters roast coffee beans more evenly and about twice as quickly as their drum roaster counterparts. The estimated roasting time for this roaster is 10 to 20 minutes, including cooling time.

This roaster’s taller roast chamber gives it a higher bean capacity (six to eight ounces) relative to others. You can increase the capacity even further with the extension tube. Not only can you roast more beans at a given time, but the larger space also allows for better bean rotation. You can purchase the SR 800 Roaster and extension tube as a bundle. 

The nine fan settings and nine heat settings make this roaster highly adjustable and perfect for master roasters. However, the simplified control panel and clean design make it an attractive choice for beginners as well.

Fresh Roast 540 Coffee Roaster
The Fresh Roast SR 540 Coffee Roaster offers the same features found on the SR 800 but with a smaller bean capacity and at a more affordable price.

The SR 540 can roast about four ounces (120 grams) of coffee beans in each batch. This model is an improvement on the well-loved SR 500 model. Overall, the Fresh Roast SR 540 is an excellent gift for coffee lovers looking to roast smaller batches of beans.

The Nesco Coffee Roaster is the ideal gift for coffee lovers who are interested in trying home roasting.

This roaster allows you to affordably gift them with the opportunity to try their hand at home roasting. Luckily for true beginners, the Nesco Roaster is easy to use and maintain. It has only two pre-programmed heat settings – medium and dark roasts. Because of its compact design, the recipient won’t have to sacrifice much space in their kitchen to use and store this roaster.

We are confident novice home roasters will be happy with the results. They will soon find themselves ready to upgrade to the SR 540 or SR 800 Roasters as they gain more roasting experience.

A High-Quality Coffee Grinder is Key for a Fresh Cup of Coffee, Making it a “Must Have” Gift Idea for Coffee Lovers.

Baratza offers a robust selection of reliable coffee grinders for a wide range of budgets. The most discerning coffee brewers know burr coffee grinders produce the most consistent grinds for various coffees.

coffee grinder
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 who are just starting and enjoy experimenting with different coffee brewing methods that require different grind sizes.

The next step up in grinders would include the Baratza Virtuoso+ Coffee Grinder.

Its higher-performing burr set justifies the higher price. The burr set in this grinder provides a clean cup of coffee with less powder throw off by cutting instead of smashing the beans. It also includes a digital interface allowing for easy time-based dosing. 

Baratza also offers the Sette Series of grinders. These grinders provide the following: 
  • Straight-through bean transport and grinding, allowing for increased efficiency and less coffee residue left in the machine.
  • Double to triple grinding throughput relative to comparable grinders.
  • The efficient torque transfer leads to lower power consumption.

Two options in this series are the Baratza Sette 30 AP and Baratza Sette 270.

Baratza Sette 30 Coffee Grinder

The Sette AP, the more affordable option of the two, offers 30 steps of macro adjustment.

baratza sette 270

The Sette 270, at a higher price point, adds nine settings of stepless micro-adjust. The high level of precision provided allows coffee drinkers to fine-tune their grinds.

baratza vario-w

For the most serious coffee enthusiast, Baratza created the Vario-W Coffee Grinder. This elite coffee grinder offers professional-level results without a large footprint. It also has a sleek design which is in line with the high quality grinding it provides. It provides 230 steps of adjustment perfect for any brewing method. A highlight of this grinder is the built-in scale that provides accurate weighing of grinds resulting in the perfect cup of coffee.

Whichever Baratza grinder you choose for your coffee fan, you can be confident you will be gifting a high-quality device with a powerful but quiet motor and well-constructed gearbox.

The Chemex Coffee Maker is an Exquisite Gift for Those Who Appreciate Both Flavorful Coffee and Minimalistic Design.

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. Selected by the Illinois Institute of Technology as one of the 100 best-designed products of modern times, the 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. This glass ensures a clean, flavorful taste that isn’t tainted by 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.

A Water Kettle Pairs Well With the Chemex Coffee Maker or a Tea Bundle.  

A Nesco Electric Water Kettle is the ultimate gift for coffee lovers who enjoy the pour-over method of brewing coffee. They boil water faster than a microwave, saving 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 temperature settings – Boil, 200°, 190°, and 175°.

Those coffee fans who also enjoy a cup of tea every now and then will appreciate a gift combination that includes a Nesco Electric Water Kettle with one of several premium tea bundles we offer. See the ones we have highlighted a little farther in this guide.  

A Selection of High-Quality Green Coffee Beans Will Be a Much-Appreciated Gift for the Coffee Lover on the Home Coffee Roasting Journey.

Guatemalan Org Huehuetenango BCT Select

A few pounds of green coffee beans is an excellent 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 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 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 so that you can compare notes on taste and roast levels with the coffee fans in your life. 

People’s Affinity Towards Coffee Doesn’t Preclude Them From Being Tea Fans as Well.

Many coffee enthusiasts are loyal to coffee and coffee alone. However, there are still others who drink both coffee and tea. A tea gift set is an excellent option for these people who are fans of both. 

The convenience of conventional teabags may be tempting. However, the taste of loose leaf tea is superior.  Learn more about the advantages loose leaf teas have over traditional teabags.

We have a diverse selection of tea samplers from which to choose. Each of the following tea samplers come with six ounces of tea in total – two ounces of each of the three varieties.

  1. The Flavored Tea Bundle includes blends of the classic varieties: Earl Grey Blue Mallow Blossom Black Tea, Jasmine Special Grade Green Tea, and Moroccan Mint Green BCT Blend. 
  1. The Pacific Tea Bundle consists of traditionally hand-produced green teas from Japan and Taiwan. The bundles include the following premium green teas: Green Dragon Oolong Tea, Sincha – Okumidori Cultivar, and Organic Roasted Kukicha Twig Tea.
  1. The China Bundle highlights the traditional methods used to create a variety of teas. This sampler bundle includes “Dragon Well” Organic Special Green Tea, “Grand Keemum” Black Tea, and Lemon Ginger Flavored White Tea.
  1. For those tea drinkers with an infinity for the assortment of tastes from India’s regions, the India Bundle may be a perfect choice. This sampler includes the following premium teas: Masala Chai Flavored Black Tea, Assam Black Tea, and Holy Detox Healing Blend Herbal Infusion.

To complete your gift, include a tea ball with the tea sampler bundles. This simple stainless steel mesh ball can hold enough tea to make a large mug of tea or small pot. 

A Home Coffee Roasting Reference Book Can Give Coffee Fans Confidence to Pursue Their Interest in Coffee Roasting.

According to the National Coffee Association’s (NCA) most recent National Coffee Data Trends (NCDT) report, most coffee drinkers continue to brew their daily dose of caffeine at home. Many of these homebrewers have expanded their coffee routine beyond fancy grinders and coffee makers to home coffee bean roasting. Coffee drinkers 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 interested in taking control of the taste and freshness of their home-brewed coffee.

A Well-Made Coffee Growler is the Perfect Gift for Coffee Lovers Looking to Keep their Brewed Drink Fresh and Hot (or Cold).

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 the growler is built to be durable and rugged, it is safe to take along on hikes and traveling adventures. 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.

Add a Personal Touch to Your Coffee Gifts by Using Burlap Coffee Bags.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is make-with-coffee-bags-coffee-lovers-gifts.png

Are you looking to add a personal touch to gifts for the coffee lovers in your life? Recipients will find it touching that you spent the time to create a handmade gift. An item made 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 help them express their affinity for the brewed drink. Remember, the burlap coffee bags available for purchase will undoubtedly have imperfections, but they will add to the charm and authenticity of your handmade creations.

Gift Certificates Give Recipients the Freedom to Choose Based on their Personal Preferences.

If you aren’t quite sure what the coffee fan on your gift list would prefer, gift certificates are a great option to consider. They can redeem gift certificates whenever it is most convenient for them. It gives them the chance to peruse the available options online and decide which green coffee beans they prefer or which roasting, grinding, or brewing equipment they are ready to try.

Burman Coffee Traders offers gift certificates in the following denominations: $10, $25, $50, and $100. 

You can find all these gifts for coffee lovers at Burman Coffee Traders. Please visit our site to find additional home coffee roasters, accessories, and green coffee bean options. We offer free shipping and green coffee beans with the purchase of our coffee grinders and home coffee roasters. Also, 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.

Explore our selection of fine Japanese teas

Loose leaf Japanese hachiju-hachiya green tea

The rich Japanese tea culture has experimented and innovated for hundreds of years, and some of the most prized teas in the world come from this relatively small island nation. “Relatively” is an important qualifier – Japan is dwarfed by nearby China, yet it is almost as large as California and its population is a whopping 127 million people, more than one third of the US population. But Japanese cities are densely concentrated along the coastlines, and the mountainous interior boasts many tea plantations which have been meticulously curated for many generations. Elaborate and labor-intensive traditions produce unique and sensational green teas. We are very proud to expand our selection to include famous Japanese health teas such as Genmaicha, Kukicha, Hachiju-Hachiya Shincha, Matcha, and Gyokuro.

See all Japanese teas

Japanese Teas offered by BCT:

Genmaicha – with roasted popped brown rice infusing sweet caramel and barley-tones, genmaicha literally means “brown rice tea.” Also frequently called “the people’s tea,” it is often consumed by those working long hours without meals, or as a mineral-rich fortifying tonic.

Kukicha "twig tea"
Kukicha “twig tea”

Org Roasted Kukicha – with very low caffeine, but full of antioxidants and minerals, this special “twig tea” is thought to be an important dietary supplement for those who are trying to keep their body balanced – it is very highly revered within the macrobiotic theory of health.

Hachiju-Hachiya – Harvested on the “88th Night” of the Japanese Lunar New Year, this exceptionally refined shincha, or “first flush tea,” is made exclusively from the “Deep Green” Okumidori cultivar.

Gyokuro – the pampered princess of teas, Gyokuro – “jade dew” – requires enormous labor devoted to meticulous methods of care-taking the most precious specialized tea shrubs. It is intensely green and surprisingly sweet, with abundant chlorophyll in the tiny young leaves.

Matcha Kansai – even more refined than Gyokuro, this exquisite Matcha from the southern Kansai region is “stone-ground tea,” a fine powder that makes a cup unlike any other on earth. Consuming the entire tea leaf means that a cup of Matcha has more than 100x the antioxidants of ordinary green tea!

Chinese teas processed in Japanese style:

These teas are well-made and authentic tasting, but also significantly more affordable than rare Japanese versions.

Chinese Org Genmaicha – very nice, malty and sweet barley tones, really yummy!

See all Japanese teas


Sunny Summer Tea Time – Fresh NEW Tea Offerings from BCT

Loose leaf herbal energizer tea

Many of us change our diets with the seasons, and we look forward to those winter-time baked goodies or spring wild mushrooms or summertime barbecues (or if you’re like me, you are really enjoying the overlap between this year’s bountiful oyster mushroom harvests and Wisconsin neighbor’s cheerful insistence on grilling out in spite of chilly rain – made-from-scratch mushroom burgers, woohoo!). So, what teas should we pair with our summer snacks and activities?

Sometimes we associate tea with winter time, and it is true that BCT carries numerous loose leaf teas which warm and soothe us through cold dark weather. But we also have a bunch of teas – some just newly arrived! – that are perfect for summer, bright and vibrant and deliciously cool, sweet, tart, or floral.

Like these, which make excellent iced teas:

Berry Mint Black BCT Blend

Moroccan Mint Green Tea – a new recipe now blended in-house! Very cooling with powerful “double-mint” and a lovely gunpowder tea

Berry Mint Black Tea – another new BCT recipe, this exciting combo of minty coolness and bright fruit punch tartness alongside a nice Nilgiri tea will have you hooked after just one taste!

Acai Berry Black Tea – more like a classic iced tea, this popular offering has a powerful palette of malty, sweet, and tart flavors.

Lemon Ginger Pai Mu Tan – one of our most popular flavored white teas, this delicate floral elixir will soothe your belly after you eat one too many mushroom burgers 😉 Some folks like to mix it half-and-half with Earl Grey, making a powerfully floral iced tea.

For something a little different, try these iced herbal infusions:

Lemon Mint Cooler – It’s all in the name. It’s really yummy! No caffeine.

Herbal Energizer – a fantastic caffeine-free concoction will boost your spirits with ginseng and St John’s wort, focus your attention with sour lemongrass, and mystify your taste buds with a sparkling palette of hibiscus, peppermint, licorice and passion fruit.

Fortifying teas to boost stamina for long summer nights:

Toasty Apple Tart BCT Blend

Mt Everest Breakfast Blend – so-called “English Breakfast Tea” is not just for breakfast (in fact that name is American, in England they call it “tea”). This scrumptiously malty and caffeine-rich blend of Assam and Yunnan teas is a superb example of a classic black.

Genmaicha – a much-loved Japanese health tea, it includes roasted popped brown rice which imparts sweet caramel and barley-toned starches, and is often consumed by those working long hours without meals.

Roasted Kukicha – actually very low in caffeine, but full of antioxidants and minerals, this special Japanese “twig tea” is a good dietary supplement for those who are trying to stay balanced even in the rush of summer.

Smoky Grey BCT Blend

NEW! BCT Blends are designed to wow your tastebuds while staying affordable enough to share the love! Toasty Apple Tart and Smoky Grey include pine-smoke flavored Lapsang Souchong in addition to other teas and nuanced flavorings. Lapsang teas impart a rich body that is incomparably smooth and velvety, and the flavors recall friendly campfires and so many heart-warming memories that accompany them. Both of these intriguing and pleasing flavored black teas are just perfect for sharing with buddies during your next backpacking trip or fishing camp or backyard solstice party.

And should you feel a little unbalanced after the party, Pu-Erh Tea is famous as a hangover cure 😉

Wishing you all a bright and flavorful summer!

Tyler (BCT “tea trader”)

Try our FRESH NEW “Moroccan Mint” Green Tea Blend

Loose leaf moroccan mint green tea in a bowl with a spoon next to a kettle

We just revamped the recipe for our popular Moroccan Mint Green tea blend. The importer that formerly supplied that product no longer has it available, so now we are blending it in-house. We are very pleased with the results, and we are sure that you will be too!

It goes on sale just in time for the summer swelter – Moroccan Mint Green is perfect for iced tea, very cooling and refreshing!

A premium-quality interpretation of a classic North African preparation, this “double-mint” green tea will demand your attention with a strong amber cup bursting with flavor. Our new version uses a high-quality green tea, more nuanced than the previous, but still bright and hardy, holding its own against powerful mints.

And this tea is a treat for all the senses! The tiny tea pellets unfold and dance in the teapot as they infuse astringent and bright green tones. The heady mint aroma is noticeable immediately. Two kinds of mint create a complex profile, and this blend is generous with both spearmint and peppermint – when sipped this tea produces a great cooling effect on the palate and the entire body.

Try Moroccan Mint Green today!

Traditionally, Moroccan mint tea is boiled with generous handfuls of fresh mint and plenty of sugar, poured from high up into small glasses (to improve aeration and flavor!), and ceremoniously served to guests in three rounds – each with a distinct flavor profile, as described in this saying, “The first glass is as gentle as life, the second is as strong as love, the third is as bitter as death.” And it is a staple of daily public life – throughout the Muslim world, tea bars provide social spaces similar to pubs.

This tea is at its best with sugar, you may also enjoy it with honey. Try it iced with lemon and a few fresh mint leaves, a perfect summer refreshment.

Steeping Time – 3 Minutes

Water Temp – 180 F

Gunpowder green tea, spearmint, peppermint and peppermint flavoring

Try Moroccan Mint Green today!

Warm up with Smoky Grey BCT Blend

Loose leaf "Smoky Grey" black tea

Dear Tea Lovers,

Here in Wisconsin, we got so excited about melting snow and increasing sun… only to be hit with more bleak winter weather this week.

The seasons are shifting, the first flowers are appearing, and we know that the worst of the cold is behind us; but even in the springtime, mornings are often dreary, damp and chilling. Recently, I have fallen in love with our new tea blend – Smoky Grey, a mix of soft and subtle Earl Grey and Lapsang Souchong teas – because it is really warming and invigorating, especially in gloomy weather. We mix up Smoky Grey right here at BCT, and we are eager to share the pleasant cheerfulness of this unique blend with everyone.

Earl Grey tea is typically served with lemon, not milk like all other British teas. But some folks also like it with milk, especially steamed milk like a latte. They often add vanilla and lavender flavors and call this scrumptious beverage a London Fog, an appropriate name because it is a lovely sparkly pick-me-up in the chilly North Atlantic mist. Adding the smoky Lapsang Souchong into the mix amplifies the warming powers of this tea, and imbues even more rich silky body into the cup. In this blend, both the bergamot and the pine smoke flavorings are complimentary and rather subtle, delivering a flavor profile that is very soft yet still leaves a fuzzy-tingly sensation on the palate. It brings a smile with every sip.

Try our new Smoky Grey BCT Blend – on sale today!

And keep your eyes open for more interesting new arrivals and BCT-exclusive blends. I am looking forward to exploring the exciting world of premium teas with all of you!

Tyler (BCT “tea trader”)

RECIPE: How to make a London Fog

Perhaps a little smoky flavor in your Earl Grey Latte makes the taste even more reminiscent of London – ha! This charming silky-sparkly beverage will give you a warm cheery moment, a little break in the clouds.


  • 1 Tablespoon Smoky Grey Tea
  • 1/2 cup hot water (212°F)
  • 1/2 cup milk (or almond milk or other milk substitute)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract and/or lavender extract
  • 1-2 tsp honey or sweetener of your choice


  • Steep tea in water for 3-5 minutes (depending on strength preference)
  • Mix tea with frothed milk (if you do not have a frother or steamer, warming milk on stove top will also work)
  • Stir in sweetener and vanilla/lavender
  • Enjoy!

How to Make a Matcha Latte

matcha instant tea powder

Matcha is used in numerous special drinks and baked goods – really you can add it to just about anything! If matcha is new to you, and whether you use Chinese Organic Matcha or Japanese Kansai Matcha powder, this simple yummy recipe is a great place to start.

Matcha Latte

Serves: 1


Bring milk to a simmer in a small pot over medium-high heat. If using cow milk, take care, as it may boil over very suddenly.

Place 1 teaspoon matcha powder in a large cup, then gradually whisk in 1/4 cup boiling water, then 3/4 cup hot milk, tipping your vessel slightly to help create more foam.

Sweeten to taste with honey or agave syrup, as crystal sugar may not dissolve completely.

Also delicious iced – just put all ingredients (cold water & milk, not hot) into a cocktail mixer with a few ice cubes and shake very vigorously – or as a smoothie – just add 4-6 ice cubes and a handful of your favorite fruits, then mix in a blender for 2-3 minutes. Feel free to experiment with added flavors such as coconut, mint, or other fragrant herbs such as basil or rosemary.

Buy Premium Kansai Matcha

Buy Chinese Organic Matcha

Beyond Tea: Our Favorite Herbal Infusions

Loose leaf Herbal Energizer infusion tea

Tasty and healthful drinks may be created from a wide variety of leaves and flowers other than those of the tea plant Camellia sinensis, and we are pleased to share a great collection of yummy herbal infusions.

From ginger and mint to chamomile and lavender, from lemongrass and ginseng to tulsi and rosehips, we have blends that will soothe your stomach, relax your mind, boost your energy (without caffeine!), or cleanse toxins and reduce inflammation. Here are just a few of our favorites:

winter elixir herbal tea infusion
Winter Elixir

Winter Elixir – Ginger, Orange Peel, Mint, Eucalyptus: A soothing, head-clearing tea with many benefits. Ginger strengthens the immune system, aids in digestion, and improves respiration, while orange peel lends the healing power of vitamin C plus a yummy citrusy tang. Mint helps to speed and ease digestion while eucalyptus provides decongestant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Calming and easy to drink, it can be a helpful aid in reducing cold and flu symptoms.

Lavender Sleepy Time BCT Premium Blend herbal tea infusion
Lavender Sleepy Time BCT Premium Blend

Lavender Sleepy Time BCT Premium Blend – Chamomile, Lavender, Spearmint, Lemon Peel: Lavender Sleepy Time is a special blend created right here at Burman Coffee Traders. A deeply relaxing and soothing cup, the uplifting aromas and gentle flavors of lavender and lemon are followed by cool spearmint and chamomile tingling the mouth and belly. Lavender and chamomile both reduce stress and promote restful sleep. All ingredients in this blend help to reduce inflammation, improve digestion, and calm stress and anxiety.

Bianca Blend herbal tea infusion
Bianca Blend

Bianca Blend – Chamomile, Hibiscus, Orange Peel: A delicious pairing of two lovely flowers, with bright orange complimenting both. When steeped shortly, the infusion is golden and fragrant with soothing chamomile blossoms, a stomach tonic and sleep aid. Steep it longer to really get the most out of the orange peel and hibiscus – the liquid becomes more red and succulent, with strong lingering cranberry notes. Makes an exquisite iced tea.

Herbal Energizer herbal tea infusion
Herbal Energizer

Herbal Energizer – Ginseng, Licorice, Peppermint, Hibiscus, Lemongrass, Passion Fruit, St. John’s Wort: Vibrant red, with powerful aromas, our caffeine-free Herbal Energizer is attention-grabbing and memorable. Sour lemongrass stands front and center, but spicy licorice and chilly peppermint compete for attention, while hibiscus and passion fruit supply a syrupy body to hold it all together. Ginseng and St. John’s wort are powerful “adaptogenic” herbs – they help your body adapt to stress and imbalance – so those who are sensitive to caffeine or who suffer from depression, anxiety, or caffeine crash will find this infusion to be far superior to any tea.

Holy Detox herbal tea infusion
Holy Detox

Holy Detox – Tulsi (Holy Basil), Spearmint, Rosehips, Lemon Myrtle, Linden Blossoms: Who knew that medicine could be so delicious? Tulsi, or Holy Basil, has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine as a powerful immune-booster and “adaptogen” – helping the body adapt to stress, imbalance, and seasonal changes – and is used in many different forms as a daily health supplement. Combined with cooling spearmint, it presents a sweetly spicy flavor profile as it eases digestion and uplifts the spirits. Rosehips, linden blossoms, and lemon myrtle also contribute to the anti-inflammatory detoxifying attributes of this health tonic and add subtle floral notes to the cup. Holy Detox is especially helpful when recovering from a cold or flu.

How to Steep the Perfect Cup of Tea

teapot, teacups, and loose leaf Pai Mu Tan white tea

Begin with the perfect pot of water.  In the ideal cup of tea, the water is almost as important as the leaves.  If possible, use water which is clean, fresh, well-aerated, and with a good balance of minerals.  Unfortunately, bottled water is generally mineral-free and not well-aerated, leaving it dull-tasting, but tap water which smells of chlorine can really disrupt the subtle aromas of a fine tea. Traditionalists say that the perfect place to get the perfect pot of water is “a naturally flowing spring.” 

Go figure, it sounds like even getting water for your tea entails some kind of spiritual journey!  It is true that for many tea enthusiasts, the tea experience is sacred, and the utmost respect is given to every part of the process.  But rest assured, if you don’t have the perfect pot of water or a gurgling spring outside your kitchen window, you will surely still enjoy your tea.  These rules and the following are guidelines for those who strive for that perfect cup, but they will also help the tea-curious begin to understand the tea experience, and what to look for in a superior cup. 

Your perfect water needs to be at perfect temperature.  It is important to heat your teapot and cups by filling them with boiling water (discard this water).  If your vessels are cold, they will throw off the precise optimal steeping temperature.  Then heat another pot of water to the optimal temperature for whichever type you are steeping.   

Generally, white teas are best at 170 degrees (or less), green teas are best at 180 degrees (or less), Oolong teas are best at 180-200, and black and Pu-Erh teas are best at boiling (212).  Use a thermometer, or estimate by letting boiling water cool for 2 minutes to 180 degrees, or 3 minutes to 160 degrees. 

And then there is the perfect amount of water, the perfect amount of tea leaves, and the perfect steeping time… but opinions differ widely, by region and taste.  We provide guidelines below, but every tea is different, and for many you will need to determine the perfect combo by trial and error – enjoy! 

Eastern and Western methods of tea preparation are quite different.  We will outline examples of both here, beginning with the more familiar British style.  We encourage you to try the Chinese style as well, especially for Green, Oolong and Pu-Erh teas.

Tea leaf quantities are by weight, as volume becomes a tricky variable.  In theory, one “teaspoon” equals 2 grams.  But only if you are using dense black tea like Earl Grey.  A light, large- leafed green tea like our Dragon Well may require up to 2 tablespoons to weigh 2 grams.  If you do not have a scale, just estimate 1 teaspoon = 2 grams for denser teas, 1 tablespoon = 2 grams for lighter teas. 

How to Steep the Perfect Cup of Earl Grey Tea (British style)

2 grams of tea per 6 ounces (175ml) of water: serves 1

Preheat teapot and cups.  Discard this water.  Place tea leaves in teapot (or infuser).  Pour in fresh boiling water.  Close, allow to steep for 3-5 minutes, depending on size of vessel and taste.  Remove leaves or pour liquid into another vessel.*  Drink immediately, with a squeeze of lemon and a little sugar. Other black teas are usually taken with milk, and some folks like Earl Grey that way too, so we also have instructions for the perfect “London Fog.”

*Note that this method may be used to produce a good cup of tea from any leaves.  Adjust the temperature and time to the appropriate type of tea (White: 170 for 3 min, Green: 180 for 2-4 min, Oolong: 180-200 for 3-5 min).  White, Green, Oolong, and Pu-Erh teas may be re-steeped, just increase steeping time by 30-60 seconds each time.  Most black teas are not recommended for re-steeping, as they turn bitter.

How to Steep the Perfect Cup of Dragon Well Tea (Chinese style)

6 grams of tea per 6 ounces (175ml) of water: serves 2-4

Preheat teapot and cups.  Discard this water.  Place tea leaves in teapot (or infuser).  Prepare water at 170-180 degrees, pour over just enough to cover the leaves, and then pour that out immediately.  Blanching the leaves cleans them and uncurls them for maximum infusion.  Pour this first batch of water into cups, but then discard it.  This keeps cups warm and provides an initial aroma – appreciate it (Chinese and Japanese tea enthusiasts write eloquent poetry about the looks and smells of steamy tea leaves!).  Pour hot water into the teapot, cover, and allow the liquid to steep for 15-30 seconds.  Enjoy a light and small sample of the unique taste and aroma of this tea.  Then re-steep, for 15-30 seconds longer each time.*  You may find yourself drinking up to 8 distinctly delicious cups as you savor all the delicate flavors that unfold in each re-steep. 

*Note that all Green and White teas excel in this preparation.  It is highly recommended for appreciating the complex and aromatic Oolong and Pu-Erh teas.  This method is less often used for black teas, though some First Flush teas are so lightly processed that you may enjoy trying them in this way.  If you use this method with traditional Black teas, it is extra-important to remember to blanch them before the first steep, to reduce bitterness.

exquisite pearls white tea
“Exquisite Pearls” unfold elegantly as they steep

For more information about our different teas, check out our tea blog posts! A couple of intro-level articles overview our offerings and are highly recommended for those just beginning their tea exploration adventures: “Welcome to the Wonderful World of Tea” and “Tea 101: Types of Tea” – more coming soon!

How to make a Rooibos-Cider Hot Toddy

Loose leaf tea and warm Rooibos Cocktail ingredients in a bowl next to teacups and a teapot

Try this delicious recipe for an extra-special rooibos-based winter warm-up:


Serves: 1


  • ½ Cup prepared rooibos infusion (will require approx 1 tsp rooibos leaves, or more to taste)
  • ½ Cup natural apple cider (any apple juice will do, preferably sugar-free)
  • ½ inch piece of ginger, or more to taste
  • ½ inch piece lemon peel
  • 1 ounce Bourbon
  • 1 ounce Cognac
  • ½ ounce Benedictine
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 lemon slice (round)
  • 3 cloves, studded in lemon slice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 whole nutmeg
  • ½ Tablespoon honey, or more to taste
  • pinch of salt, to taste

Bring apple cider to a boil, steep ginger and lemon peel on medium heat for 5-15 minutes, then combine with rooibos infusion (also good steeped for 5-15 minutes, to taste).  Place lemon, cloves, and cinnamon in a mug and stir in rooibos, cider, and booze.  Grate a little nutmeg (be careful, its very powerful!), add honey and a few grains of salt to taste, and serve piping hot. 

The traditional hot toddy cider is simply whiskey, water, lemon and honey, and has been used by many to fight off cold and flu season.  This classic combo is delicious on its own, but our special holiday recipe also includes a well-rounded mix of liquors and spices that instill complex and memorable flavors and infuse even more warming powers than the old-fashioned version.    For hot toddies using Rooibos Masala Chai or Rooibos Chocolate Chai blends, omit the lemon, lemon peel, and apple cider (use 1 full cup of rooibos infusion instead).  For the kiddos, just omit the booze – it is still scrumptious!  Feel free to experiment with the spice mix – delightful additions include black pepper, cardamom, mace, peppermint or wintergreen, or a whole vanilla bean (you may prefer to omit lemon & lemon peel if adding vanilla).

warm rooibos cocktail
Rooibos Hot Toddy is a wonderful winter warm-up!

Rooibos Herbal Infusions

Loose leaf tea and warm Rooibos Cocktail ingredients in a bowl next to teacups and a teapot

Rooibos, or “red bush,” is native to the western coast of South Africa, and it has been harvested from the wild for millennia.  Only recently has it been cultivated, but with a high reputation as a cheap and delicious caffeine-free tea alternative, in less than 100 years its popularity has spread to every continent.

Rooibos is frequently used to substitute tea in herbal blends.  The tiny leaves have a malty sweetness reminiscent of black tea, but also a variety of their own unique accents, with strawberry, honey, and vanilla notes, as well as earthy and tobacco undertones.  This premium variety, organic from South Africa, has particularly strong vanilla notes and a surprising sweetness – it’s really lovely!

Mild and forgiving, it is impossible to over-steep rooibos, and it lends itself well to flavored blends, providing a substantial yet relatively neutral body which is easy to build upon – it is excellent with sugar, honey, milk, nut milks, fruits, herbs and spices.  You will love rooibos especially if you enjoy experimenting with your own unique recipes, as it lends extra body and sweetness to any cup.  And you will love it on its own too – very smooth, mellow yet complex – add milk and sugar and that special vanilla-honey flavor profile might have you imagining that you are drinking a cake in a cup!

If you are looking for a caffeine-free hot beverage alternative, try this rich and vibrant red herbal infusion today.  For those who want to impress guests with unusual treats, versatile rooibos may be prepared as you would mulled cider, or used in novelty cocktails at your big holiday bash.  For those who like to keep it nice and simple, soothing rooibos is perfect for cozying up by the fire with the family, its mellow pleasant flavor well-received by all. 

We carry 7 scrumptious flavors: pure top-quality Organic Rooibos, as well as warm spicy Herbal Masala Chai, silky rich Herbal Chocolate Chai, and exciting NEW Rooibos Blood Orange Blend! We also have a line of Turmeric Blends that all include rooibos: from fortifying Turmeric Cider Spice, to sweet energetic Turmeric Peach Nectar and bright tangy Turmeric Zest.

Organic Rooibos, South Africa – This top-shelf variety is smooth, sweet, with ample vanilla flavor and rich honey and tobacco undertones.  This is our most versatile herbal infusion – you can steep any amount of leaves for any amount of time and it is always delicious, never bitter.

Rooibos - Herbal Chocolate Chai
Herbal Chocolate Chai

Herbal Masala Chai – Rooibos with ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and vanilla flavors.  These spices will really warm you up.  Rooibos is ideal for this style of chai, with its rich vanilla flavors amplifying the sparkly spices.  Add a little milk and sugar and it might as well be dessert!  Makes a perfect caffeine-free Christmas morning cup.

Herbal Chocolate Chai – Rooibos with ginger, cardamom, and chocolate chips.  Another blend that will warm your hearts this holiday season.  Vanilla notes and rich red liquor are just begging for this delightful combo of ginger, cardamom, and chocolate. 

NEW! Roobios Blood Orange Blend – Rooibos with orange peel, hibiscus, apple, rosehips, rose petals, safflowers, lemon, orange and vanilla flavors. A masterfully designed herbal blend with a whole range of fantastic flavors, very versatile and great for iced tea too.

Turmeric Cider Spice Org Herbal Blend – Rooibos with honey bush, turmeric, cinnamon, peppercorn, ginger, lemon and vanilla flavors (all organic).  This blend makes a warming and fortifying tonic – turmeric is anti-inflammatory and immunity-boosting, excellent for cold wet winter days.  Not a lot of spices, this cup still maintains a mellow, subtle profile (though you can always add more if you like it spicy!).

Turmeric Peach Nectar Org Herbal Blend – Rooibos with peach, apple, rosehips, turmeric, chamomile, lemon myrtle, natural flavors (all organic). Sweet and sparkly with a unique combination of fruits and spices, this blend has an attractive golden color and powerful peach, candy-sweet, riding over the top of complex delicate herbs.

Turmeric Zest Org Herbal Blend – Rooibos with hibiscus, turmeric, orange peel, rosehips, cornflower, stevia leaf, natural flavors (all organic). Vibrant crimson velvety liquor is zippy and slightly spicy.  Hibiscus gives the cup an overall tart taste, amplified by orange peel and rosehips.  Rooibos rounds the edges with subtle vanilla and malty notes.  Great for iced drinks.


Try this delicious recipe for an extra-special rooibos-based winter warm-up:

Rooibos-Cider Hot Toddy
Rooibos-Cider Hot Toddy

Rooibos-Cider Hot Toddy

Serves: 1


  • ½ Cup prepared rooibos infusion (will require approx 1 tsp rooibos leaves, or more to taste)
  • ½ Cup natural apple cider (any apple juice will do, preferably sugar-free)
  • ½ inch piece of ginger, or more to taste
  • ½ inch piece lemon peel
  • 1 ounce Bourbon
  • 1 ounce Cognac
  • ½ ounce Benedictine
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 lemon slice (round)
  • 3 cloves, studded in lemon slice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 whole nutmeg
  • ½ Tablespoon honey, or more to taste
  • pinch of salt, to taste

Bring apple cider to a boil, steep ginger and lemon peel on medium heat for 5-15 minutes, then combine with rooibos infusion (also good steeped for 5-15 minutes, to taste).  Place lemon, cloves, and cinnamon in a mug and stir in rooibos, cider, and booze.  Grate a little nutmeg (be careful, its very powerful!), add honey and a few grains of salt to taste, and serve piping hot. 

The traditional hot toddy is simply whiskey, water, lemon and honey, and has been used by many to fight off cold and flu season.  This classic combo is delicious on its own, but our special holiday recipe also includes a well-rounded mix of liquors and spices that instill complex and memorable flavors and infuse even more warming powers than the old-fashioned version.    For hot toddies using Rooibos Masala Chai or Rooibos Chocolate Chai blends, omit the lemon, lemon peel, and apple cider (use 1 full cup of rooibos infusion instead).  For the kiddos, just omit the booze – it is still scrumptious!  Feel free to experiment with the spice mix – delightful additions include black pepper, cardamom, mace, peppermint or wintergreen, or a whole vanilla bean (you may prefer to omit lemon & lemon peel if adding vanilla).