How to Become a Coffee Expert in the UK
Throughout the UK, many thousands of people enjoy a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. It has also become a popular drink to have during the day for a break or after a meal.
Many coffee shops have popped up all over the UK in the last 5-10 years. Coffee can now be enjoyed piping hot, chilled, plain or customised with many different flavours and toppings.
In the days gone past the majority of people simply made a quick cup of instant. However these days their tastes have changed a lot, and in many UK homes there will be some type of coffee machine.
However, there is a lot more to coffee than simply popping some grounds into a machine and waiting for it to brew.
There are many types of coffee beans, different roasts, different grounds and a range of different brewing methods to try. In this article I will explain what all of that means.
Personally I think that is good to have a certain amount of knowledge as that helps you make better choices, and also opens up a whole range of variety, when it comes to trying different coffee types.
Know Your Beans & Roasts
If you want to become something close to a coffee expert, then the best starting place is to understand what beans are available. More importantly is is important to understand the different ways in which these beans are roasted.
We will start with the beans as that part is not too complicated, and a little basic knowledge will go a very long way.
There are generally speaking two types of coffee beans which are:
The vast majority of coffee experts state that Arabica beans are much better quality than Robusta beans. They have a fuller and a smoother flavour. I have explained those in more detail later in this article.
In the market today you can buy a variety of roasts, which influences the different tastes and will certainly wake up your taste buds. You can also have your beans ground in a variety of grinds, which gives the coffee different textures when it's ground.
The type of taste that you'll get from your coffee is also going to depend on which coffee bean you choose and what kind of coffeemaker that you use.
If you want to learn about coffee, you need to educate yourself just a little and become somewhat of a barista - a coffee expert! Simply by knowing just a little more about the proper techniques, you really can greatly improve the flavours and tastes of your coffee.
The best place to start this journey is to find out a little about the different types of beans available. Once you have learned that then it is good to get to know about the roast types and how they affect the flavor.
When you know about the beans and the various roast types, then brewing is next on your list.
You need to understand how to select the best machine to make your coffee, and how to operate it. Don't forget there are many different types of brewing methods and you should try them all to see which you like best.
Finally you then need to learn about other coffee flavour tips that enhance your satisfaction of this drink.
Years ago, no one could have imagined that consumers like me and you would be so hungry for information about where their coffee came from, or how it could have so many different tastes, and more importantly why we would be willing to pay upwards of £3 per cup for it.
These days it is quite common to see people pop in for a quick espresso, and also to visit Starbucks as a social gathering place and try a variety of coffees.
Drinking Coffee in the UK
In the UK these days drinking coffee has become more of an experience than a habit of the morning. Around 3/4 of adults claim to drink coffee ritually every morning. Many of those continue to drink it throughout the day.
If you are a bit of a coffee lover like me, then I believe you should find out how to do this at home and make great tasting coffee. Let's have a closer look at the various elements.
Different Bean Types & Roasts
Coffee beans are actually a green colour before they go through the processing stage. Coffee beans get their different colours after they have been roasted. It's also primarily how they get their flavour.
Beans are essentially the seeds of berries from a plant. They are harvested when they are ripe. Coffee plants will only grow in what is termed "The Equator belt" which sits between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.
During the process of roasting, the oils within the beans flavour the coffee. At the same time that the process is giving the beans their flavor, it's also giving it the roast type.The color of the coffee beans will tell you if it's a light or a dark roast.
This signifies the length of time that the beans spent in the roasting process. Depending on where the bean originated while it was being grown, this can also impact the taste of the coffee.
Roast Types in Brief
There are four basic types of roasts and this is how the different coffees you can buy are classified.
There is actually a wider scale than this but here I am just dealing with the basics of roasted coffee beans. If you would like more detail on the various roasts then please click here.
For now though let's just look at the 4 types. There are light roasts, medium roasts, one that's between medium and dark and then there are dark roasts. As you can guess, the light roasted coffee beans did not go through the roasting process for the same length of time as the dark roasts did.
The lighter the roast of the coffee, the less bitterness the coffee flavour has.The length of time the beans spent in roasting is what you see on the labels on the outside of the bag or can of coffee that you purchase - the light, the medium, the medium dark and the dark. If you don't like strong, bitter coffee, you want to go with a lighter roast.
Simply by knowing your beans and the grading systems, and then understanding the different roasts which are available, will make you quite the coffee expert.
Discover the Many Coffee Brewing Methods
With that knowledge, I would then recommend learning about the various brewing methods. There are lots of these such as filter, percolator, stove top, French Press and making espresso.
There are two main types of brewing used for making coffee, and they come with different names.
- Immersion type - Medium to coarse grains are flooded and immersed in water, and allowed to brew. This is used for brews like drip coffee and French Press coffee
- Water Pressure Type - Where pressurised water is forced through a finely ground coffee to make espresso. This espresso can then be used to make Americano, Cappuccinos etc
Espresso is the foundation of any great tasting coffee.
Once you grasp these and understand them, you will quickly realise that different brewing methods require different types of grinds. To find out about those, you can click here.
When you then collect all of this information together about beans, roasts, brewing methods and grinds, you will truly be very close to becoming a coffee guru.
After that everything else becomes a little experimental. There are tons of flavours that you can add, usually in the form of syrups. Those are what can really spice up and widen your coffee choices.
Conclusion on Becoming a Coffee Expert
Many people who drink coffee are happy enough with a cup of instant coffee, and that remains a very popular choice for many UK people. Some people also want to try and replicate at home, the types of coffee that they can buy in a coffee shop like Costa and Starbucks etc.
Many UK people will buy a coffee in the chain coffee shops but that can get expensive. That is why people end up buying come type of coffee machine to make their coffee at home.
When you have one of those then you can start to try out different coffee beans, different roasts and see which you like the best.