I’ll let you in on a secret. I’ve had a love affair with coffee for years. I don’t just mean that I look forward to my first cup in the morning. I view drinking coffee as a bit of an art form. I research flavors, terms, brands. and brewing methods. I have books about coffee and more coffee-making gadgets than I have space in my cupboards. I’ve noticed that many people share some misconceptions about coffee, so I thought I’d try to clarify some of the information printed on your package of beans.

Fair Trade

“Fair Trade” doesn’t just apply to coffee. You may see the term printed on chocolate and other products as well. Fair Trade means that the coffee company pays the coffee grower a fair and livable wage for his or her coffee beans. It also usually indicates that the coffee beans were grown using environmentally sustainable methods.

Roast

French Roast, dark roast, medium roast, and light roast are used to indicate the length of time the coffee beans have been roasted. Many people assume that a dark roast coffee (which has been roasted longer than a light roast), has more caffeine. The opposite is true: the longer a bean has been roasted, the less caffeine it contains. I enjoy a light roast or breakfast blend in the morning, then taper off to a dark roast later in the day.

Grind

After the beans are roasted, they are ground and packaged. Which grind you need will depend on how you brew your coffee. If you have a French Press, you should use a coarse ground coffee. If you are making a cold brewed coffee, look for extra coarse or coarse ground coffee. A medium-coarse ground coffee will work well for a pour over maker like a Bodum or a Cemex. If you have a standard drip coffee maker, a medium grind will work best for you. Fine ground coffee is intended for siphon systems and espresso makers.

Arabica

Arabica is a variety of coffee bean that comes from a few dozen regions of the world. Arabica coffee beans are the highest quality beans and typically cost more than other types. In my opinion, Arabica is one of the best varieties of coffee–and well worth the extra cost.

Flavors

When it comes to flavor, coffee beans are coffee beans: they taste like coffee. While different types of beans may subtly different notes, they are all versions of the same essential flavor. French Vanilla, Hazelnut, Caramel and other flavored coffee blends are enhanced with artificial flavors.

Do you have coffee facts you’d like to share?