How to make coffeeshop drinks: Coffee beans

Welcome to part 2 of my series of posts on making your own coffee/tea drinks at home. In case you missed it, the first post covered the equipment part of the equation. Today, I’m talking about coffee beans. First things first: Choosing your beans. Now, people have varying levels of “snobbery” regarding coffee beans — ranging from “only the finest fairy-kissed beans roasted five seconds ago by a left-handed monk and ground with a mortar and pestle” to “anything nicer than ground dirt is a ripoff froufrou drink for little girls”. You, obviously, will fall between these two extremes. The only question is where the right balance of quality vs price and convenience lies. Coffee beans come in two varieties — robusta and arabica. Whether you’re leaning toward the snob end of the scale or not, I recommend you don’t bother with robusta beans. They’re cheap because the plant is hardier and easier to grow, but the taste is nowhere as good as arabica. The good news is, by now even cheap supermarket coffee brands have switched to arabica so you’re probably set there. After that, it’s just a matter of finding a brand and roast that you like. This is where trial and error comes in. My recommendation is to try coffee wherever you can — diners, coffee shops, friends’ houses, etc. If it tastes good, ask what...

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