Tom posted a video about choosing Green Coffee for home roasting that goes over all the basics - so it might be worth a view. -Maria
Green Coffee FAQ
Q: What coffee should I choose?
A: For beginning home roasters, I think it is best to start with a Green Coffee Sampler which gives you a range of origins and processing methods so you can start to hone in on what you like. While the type of roast you use will greatly influence the flavor (all coffees come with roast recommendations on the label), origin flavor sets the parameters for the flavors in the cup.
Coffees produced around the world can have an incredible variety of flavors; there are, however, some general characteristics to different regions. This is why we organize our coffee offerings by country, not some other factor.
- For mild coffees, focus on Central American or Island coffees.
- For espresso, try an espresso blend or use Brazil as single origin espresso; you can also use the drop down menu at the top of listings on the Green Coffee Offerings page to look for coffees recommended for espresso.
- For darker roasts and coffees with lots of body, check out Indonesian or Brazilian coffees; these tend to have more body, less acidity and take a dark roast well.
- For bright, flavorful coffees, try Kenyan coffees which can tend to be more acidic, more citrus, or Ethiopian coffees which can be fruited or bittersweet chocolate.
These are only generalizations and cannot be taken as true in all cases, especially if it's a slightly unusual processing method or varietal!
Q: Where do you guys get your coffee from?
A: Our coffee buyer travels to different coffee farms and mills around the world looking for good quality coffee, and checking our suppliers. We buy coffee from importers who are bring in containers of coffee, usually buying fairly small lots, usually 40 to 60 bags from one farm. In many cases we have direct contact with the farm or coop that produced the coffee.
Q: I am looking for only organic coffees. What do you have?
A: As mentioned above, we have a drop down menu at the top of listings on the Green Coffee Offerings that allows you to view only those coffees that are organic, farm gate, recommended for espresso, wet or dry processed. In many regions, specialty coffee comes from smaller traditional farms and farmers are unwilling or unable to pay for organic certification. Specialty coffee in general does not see the wholesale use of herbicides that are seen in other crops.
Q: Help! My favorite coffee is no longer available! What do I do?
A: (Tom addresses this question in the video linked above but here are some additional notes.) This happens all the time – mostly because we are dealing with small, specific lots of coffee. We carry not just coffee from a specific farm, but very often a specific cultivar (i.e. Bourbon, pacamara, etc) or picking or processing method. These are very limited lots of coffee, sometimes just a few bags, and often very unique, so we can sell out within a couple of months or faster.
When this happens, in most cases you want to look for a coffee from the same region or a nearby region as the cultivar and climate is most likely similar. Then consider the processing method – this will greatly impact the flavor. A dry processed Ethiopian coffee will taste more like a dry processed Yemen than a wet processed Ethiopian.
All the coffee reviews are archived so you can compare the out-of-stock coffee with coffees we currently have in stock. Please read through the descriptions of both coffees, not just the cupping scores. Overall score will tell you how exceptional a coffee is but not how much you’ll like it. Here is the list of factors to consider when searching for a comparable coffee, in order of importance:
5. Prime Attributes/Spider Graph
Q: I had a certain coffee in years past that I really liked– when will it be available again?
A: The answer can be complicated. Whether or not we will have a specific coffee again depends on many variables such as weather, processing, shipping, and competition. Since we strive to provide the best green coffee available, we won’t bypass an amazing coffee we haven’t offered before. Tried and true coffees we have had year in and year out can be good, but not at the expense of ignoring quality and new flavors that are out there.
Q: How long does unroasted coffee last for?
A: The flavor of unroasted coffee is fairly stable when stored in a cool, dry place. Green coffee will not have a drop in cup quality from about 6 months up to 1 year from arrival date (every coffee we sell has an arrival date in the review).
Q: How do I store my green coffee?
A: All green coffee beans should be kept cool and dry at room temperature, and away from direct sunlight. The refrigerator is too moist for green beans and the freezer is too dry. In the trade, the general rule in terms of climate for green coffee storage is this: if it's comfortable for you, then your coffee is happy too.
Q: Where can I buy green, unroasted coffee?
A: Sweet Maria’s of course! : ) There are other green coffee vendors online, and sometimes your local coffee roaster will sell you some unroasted coffee if you ask politely.
For more discussion of choosing coffees, you might want to check the Sweet Maria's Forum.