We all have seen lots of coffee beans, but do you know that there’s a lot to tell by just looking at the beans? 👁 Let's keep our eyes wide open and take a close look 👀
The first thing we look at is the roast level, ie the colour of the beans. Generally, you can separate them into light, medium or dark roast.
This is a good indicator of knowing how to brew the coffee, especially on the adjustments for grind size, brew ratio & brewing temperature 😉
Dark roast coffees are more soluble than lighter roast coffees. Hence you’ll need to adjust on brewing recipe if you were to change coffee beans to get the perfect extraction!
The general rule is the darker the roast, the coarser the grind size. Coarser grind size has a lesser surface area, hence this will prevent the sharp bitterness from over-extraction when brewing dark roast coffees! Over extracted dark roast is absolutely awful 😵💫
When light roast coffee tastes sour & watery, that’s under-extracted & you’ll need to grind finer on the next brew 😮
For brew ratio, you’ll need lesser water to extract dark roast coffee. The more water you use, the higher the extraction rate, the bitter the coffee taste, and the more diluted the coffee 🥴
A good golden ratio for a dark roast is 80g/litre, whereas 60-70g /litre for lighter roast coffee.
Lastly about brewing temperature, the darker the roast, the lower the brewing temperature. Go for 85ºc for dark roast, 93-96ºc for medium & light roast coffee!
The photo shows the darkest roast of all, Liberica Classic Italian dark roast coffee, our all time favourite dark roast coffee.
We brew this with 24g of super coarse grind size (probably the coarsest your grinder can go), brew with 85c water temperature with 300ml of water within 2 minute plus 😉
The ultimate aim is to brew a sweet cup of coffee with a lovely long lingering pleasant aftertaste! If the coffee tastes sour, it’s under-extracted and just grinds finer on the next brew; if bitter, go coarser!
Shape & Look of Coffee Beans 🧐
You must be thinking, all the coffee beans look the same la. But the fact is, they are same same but different! 😲
If you have been enjoying a variety of coffee beans for some time, you can roughly tell the varietal and origin by just looking at the beans! 👀
Just like apple, while all apples look very similar, different varieties of apple has special characteristics. Some have yellow stripes, some are pure red, not to mention they taste quite different in terms of sweetness and texture 🍎🍏
The same goes for coffee beans (and pretty much every fruit & vegetable). Here we have a few samples of coffee beans with different varieties and origins.
PS: you may ignore the colour & size of beans, as the darker the roast, the larger the beans. Only look at the shape of beans yea 👁
Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, there are thousands of unidentifiable varietals and in most Ethiopian coffees there is a mix of many varieties of coffee. Hence everyone just calls them Heirloom! 🇪🇹
Take a close look at Heirloom, you can see clearly that all the shapes of beans are different and not as even as other varietals. As it’s a mixture of unknown varietals, this gives great complexity to Ethiopian coffee! 🤩
Gesha is like fat oval in shape, relatively big & even in size as more care went into the picking process and ensure only big ripe cherries are picked. 🤏🏼
Liberica is way larger than arabica beans, and the shape is like a water droplet💧rather than round or oval.
Caturra looks very similar to bourbon as it’s a mutation of Caturra. Catuai is a hybrid of Caturra & Mundo Novo. Colombia, Castillo look fairly similar as they are all from Colombia. That explains the similar looks like parents and children 👨👩👧👦
Now that you know they look different, don’t forget to check on the variety of coffee beans while you purchasing your coffee beans!
Uniformity & Defects 🧐
A general rule of thumb, the higher the uniformity of beans & the lower the number of defect beans, the better the quality of beans!
Uniformity breaks into 2 things, size & colour of roasted beans.
The more even of the bean size, it’s more likely to produce an even roast! Even roast = even brew = delicious coffee ❤️
Same to beans colour, you want beans with all even colour! Lighter colour beans are quakers, they are unripe beans that contains higher acid level, often find in natural processed beans.
Quakers give high sourness to coffee & unpleasant flavours like peanuts, too many of quakers may upset your stomach (imagine taking too much acid) 🥴
*Before we go deeper, this only applicable to single origin coffee, ideally single varietal lot. This is not applicable to blends as it's a mixture of different single origin coffee, for sure it's not uniform la 😅 the hopper above is Liberica Signature Blend, a mix of arabica & liberica beans.
Defects are the weird looking beans, you can find the beans in the photos. There are empty shells, moles, black beans etc. These defects are easily over roasted and gives roasty toasty notes to coffee.
The next photo shows the high quality COE coffee beans that have zero defects! All the beans are even in size & colour, with no defects at all 🙌🏼
Top tip before grinding your beans, take a good look at each beans and pick out all the defect beans, especially quakers! 🤏🏼
This gives a clean & transparent tasting coffee, clean coffee means free of defects! Also, you can avoid stomach upset too 😊
Thankfully, our roasters source only high quality specialty grade beans that have low level of defects. These are the result of multiple rounds of sorting & picking, think about the hard labour that goes into producing these coffees.
Also our roasters will do a final round of hand sorting before packing it, million thanks to great roasters 🙌🏼 You can check out all the zero defect World’s Best Coffee here 🏆
A normal coffee cherry has 2 coffee seeds, this develop flattened facing sides of coffee beans that we commonly seen.
Peaberry is where only 1 bean is in a cherry. The small mutation is round in shape, about twice as big as normal beans (imagine the size of 2 beans) and accounts for about 5-10% of harvest.
Peaberry absorbs twice as much of nutrient and sugar in coffee cherry. As a result, it makes a sweeter and intense aromatics cuppa 🤩
The Liberica Peaberry is the best example for comparison. It’s way sweeter as compare to the normal Liberica Honey Almond!
The next photo show the Kenya Peaberry, it looks a lot rounded and smaller than Liberica Peaberry 🔴
It’s pretty much the same for brewing Peaberry. As for roasting, it requires a different roast profile to roast a well developed beans due to its difficult to penetrate heat to the centre of beans.
Check out all the Peaberry coffees here ☕️
Now that you know the difference of coffee beans looks, make sure you take a close look at all the coffee beans whenever you brew coffee. The more types of beans you have seen, the more you can recognise it. Have fun!