What makes a great cup of coffee?

I keep reading a lot of articles and opinions about what makes the best cup of coffee. To me, this is all subjective. It’s why I am working to find a variety of beans to offer that give people a chance to explore and find their favorite cup of coffee.

When I was younger, I didn’t like coffee. I thought it was bitter and tasted horrible. I drank tea (or herbal infusions) and thought that I would never be a coffee drinker. Then I moved in with my aunt, and she introduced me to what she called “The Poor Man’s Mocha”. Basically, it is hot cocoa in the coffee, and it was awesome to me. I was hooked.

Back then I didn’t care about the quality of the beans. I was 16 and all I cared about was getting my caffeinated hot cocoa. Granted, this was also the early 90s, before espresso drinks started really dominating the scene. By the time I graduated from high school, I had started drinking the mocha espresso drinks and had spent a bit working at an espresso shop.

I, like many of my friends, thought the espresso drink was fancy and the best you could get. That all changed when I was introduced to the idea of home roasting. I realized that the bitterness I was used to covering up didn’t have to be there. I also found out that there were so many different beans out there that would give me completely different experiences. I started with the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, and then tried the Tanzania Peaberry. My views on coffee changed forever.

Currently I prepare my coffee by either pour over or French press, since my drip coffee maker broke. I’m not a morning person, so easy is better for me. I’ve tried cold brew, and I love my percolator (which is in a box somewhere in storage). I also have an espresso machine that I’ve barely used (lost a part that I never replaced-it is also in storage currently).

With all of these different methods I’ve tried of brewing my coffee, I realized that it is a totally personal preference. But during the last few months of taste testing about 20+ (to date) coffee bean varieties, is that the bean makes a huge difference.

I personally look for something that enhances how I like to drink my coffee. One bean had a strong berry flavor (blueberry specifically to me), and I couldn’t drink it. Other beans just don’t have enough ‘personality’ for me. I also don’t want to offer the same flavors for all the beans. It’s part of the reason I only have 3 beans currently. I’m still searching for a decent variety that is within my storage space capacity (this being a very small business being started on a shoestring budget).

One last thought. The roast level of the bean does not determine the kind of preparation method that needs to be used. There are some coffee shops out there making espresso drinks with lighter roasts. Don’t be afraid to try new things. You might be pleasantly surprised.

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