The secret to good coffee

The secret to good coffee is … tadaaaaa … freshly roasted good quality coffee beans! Actually, it’s no secret at all, coz it’s been discussed gazillion times over the Web.

Coffee is just like most foods — best if freshly cooked, sucks if stale. Simple as that. That’s why I just don’t understand why most coffee shops, despite the hundreds of thousands of pesos, maybe even millions, they spend on the place, equipment and staff training, just don’t get this. Have you tried eating your favorite dish a month or two after it was cooked? Is it as good as when it was fresh? You may put it in the ref, or even freezer, vacuum pack it, then microwave it later, but your stale favorite dish just can’t match the one that’s freshly cooked. It may even taste ugly.

I’m not saying that the best equipment won’t contribute to good coffee. But if you start with stale coffee beans in the first place, the best equipment just can’t do anything to improve the taste of your coffee.

“So, Bob, why not just buy freshly roasted coffee beans?”

Because in this country, they almost do not exist. They’re very hard to find, even if you go to the best coffee shop in the country’s biggest malls. I said so in my previous post: the roasted beans you buy should be in an air-tight packaging marked with a date indicating when it was roasted — not “expiration date” that is usually some months or even over a year away — and the date is not more than a week old. Read the experts’ verdict on this, in this PDF file from the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA). Go to your favorite coffee shop, to Starbucks if there’s one near you, and tell me if you can buy freshly roasted beans that’s within a week of roasting. Should the impossible happen and you do get freshly roasted beans, then you may stop reading this post, and proceed to the next steps, which is grinding and brewing.

Looking back, I do remember having bought, just once, roasted beans from Bo’s Coffee at the Lim Ket Kai Mall in Cagayan de Oro marked with a date that was just maybe a week old. But it happened only once, and it was their Barista Blend, a combination of arabica (the coffee of choice) and the inferior robusta (which tastes ugly however fresh). The rest of the beans I bought there had roast dates of over a month old. Hope things have changed with their “Just Roasted” campaign; I haven’t checked coz I was already roasting on my own when they started the campaign.

For the 99.9% of the poor souls who can’t buy freshly roasted beans, let’s work our way backwards — sourcing good quality green coffee beans that we can roast ourselves.

We’re in a tropical country, near the Equator, where coffee grows. This plant could not grow in the cold countries, those above the Tropic of Cancer and below the Tropic of Capricorn. (So now you know that they could not grow coffee in Italy, so stop bragging about your coffee imported from Italy coz they, too, source their green beans from the tropical countries, and so your roasted Italian coffee is already stale by the time it arrived here.)

Since we belong to a coffee-growing region, we Pinoys must be lucky! Or, are we?

We’ll see …


5 Responses to “The secret to good coffee”

  1. Benson on December 15th, 2008 9:23 pm

    Bob, I heard that Bo’s shop roaster at Serendra branch was never used. Gihimo lang kuno nila ug props.

  2. admin on December 16th, 2008 7:28 am

    Uh-oh! Sayang. Would have been a good start for coffee shops in ‘Pinas to start serving really freshly roasted coffee. But I can understand, roasting isn’t for everyone. You have to really love coffee to be able to do it properly.

  3. mr.bean on September 11th, 2010 12:19 am

    Wow, such a great blog, I’ve been wanting to have a coffee shop someday and just start learning the process of making coffee great stuff here.

    I’m from cebu, do u know where I can buy some Aeropress coffee maker here? Hmmm sorry to ask again, I know that you might have written this into your blog but let me ask again nyahahaha

    Aside sa Aeropress unsa pa imong mga gamit to make coffee? Ug bahin sa roasting ug bean ba! 20 minutes jud na ang pag roast ana or naa jud heat temperature? Then kato gani imong gi gamit pag roast unsay name ato na oven gani?

    Kapetabay 3n1 decaffeinated hahaha

  4. Bobby on September 17th, 2010 11:49 pm

    sa vira mall, 3rd floor, naay shop didto nga EYO Sales, video games ang baligya, pero naa silay aeropress. aside from aero, i use french press and the bialetti stovetop coffee makers. pero it’s mainly the aero & the french press for me. tan-awa na lang ni nga guide sa roasting —

  5. Bobby on September 17th, 2010 11:50 pm

    Benson, pareho man mong Sugbuanon. Tudlui na lang na si Mr. Bean. :D

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