Venturing into coffee world.........please help!


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Sep 21, 2007
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I am definately a novice when it comes to roasts and beans. I have a coffee grinder and have used it with colombian beans but they always seem a bit bitter (unless I cut it with enough cream).

Someone gave me and my honey some guatamalan (spelling??) beans and the coffee seems to have an almost burned taste to it, no matter how coarse I grind the beans.

Can someone recommend a bean and time length to grind that would produce a smoothe, full bodied, lower acid coffee. (My honey can''t handle a real acidic coffee.

A friend recommended Thomas Hammer coffee beans. Any thoughts on that? Thanks in advance.
Try some Jamaica blue mountain beans mate - they provide a smooth tasting coffee, and not bitter at all if you brew them correctly, and you can find them fairly cheap on ebay - not the best blue mountain by far, as the top quality blue mountain beans are fairly expensive, and sometimes hard to get hold of, but the ebay ones are still a lot nicer than most coffees
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Thanks for the suggestions. Ironically, I was actually in Jamaica a year and a half ago and toured the coffee plantations on the mountain. It was interesting. They are not big rows of plants as I expected. There were banana plants everywhere and the coffee plants where planted underneath them for shade. If you have never been to Jamaica........GO! Take a jeep tour up the mountain. We loved it! Ironically, I did not drink any coffee while we were there. Ocho Rios was a port we stopped in for the day while on a cruise, and the only time I drank coffee that day was that morning on the Italian cruise ship we were on........ Italian Cappuccino, of course! I did get a bag of Blue Mountain coffee beans, but I have just wanted to keep them for a souvenier (sp?) of the trip. Who knew that bag sitting there is probably the exact coffee I'v been looking for. How long do beans last???

Hello Jen

You should give my beans a try, I roast fresh beans per order. My Koda Blend is something you should try, They have a great rich flavor and are extremly smooth. Not Bitter At All! You Will Love Emmmm.
I have been roasting this blend for over 2 1/2 years and is still my best seller.

Just a thought... it could actually be your water. If its too "soft" that will make any coffee bitter. You actually need a certain amount of minerals to make a good cup of coffee, which is why people suggest you not make coffee with bottled water. The location where my store is, the water is actually too clean and I need to install a filtration system that adds some minerals.
a few tips

Hey Jen,

I have a few suggestions as to why your coffee may taste bitter.
1. It may be your water. A large percentage of the coffee you drink is due to faulty water.

2. If you are using a home brewing machine often they cannot produce the quality of a brewer used at a shop for various reasons. A suggestion would be to use a French press if you do not already.

3. It is important to use fresh beans! Also make sure that you don't grind your beans until immediately before you use them.

Out of the coffees we freshly roast at our shop I would recommend that you give our Fair Trade Gayo Mountain Sumatra a try as it has very low acidity.

Hope this helps!
About the only things I didn't see to consider are these:

1. Quality of the roast
2. Quality of the green bean, which would be hard to know
3. How old are the roasted beans. Beyond 14 days makes a difference
4. Believe it or not, the coarseness of fineness of the grind
5. Central and South American beans are usually very mild
6. Many people mistake bitterness for acidity

Bitter tasting coffee could be due to a blend using Arabica and Robusta. It could also be due to beans being burned or over roasted. Some would consider a French Roast or Cuban in that category. The real advantage of a good specialty coffee from a reputable source is that it is not bitter. It may have a strong body, but bitterness is usually associated with the oil in coffee.

Coffee brewed in a conventional drip brew with a heating plate and a glass caraffe is a good example. If the coffee is left in the pot on the burner, continually being heated, the oils will begin to turn the flavor of the coffee bitter. Ideally, coffee should be consumed within 20 minutes of brewing, but as in all things coffee related, you will get a variety of opinions on that.

A good Master Roaster knows how to blend beans. Most coffee drinkers do not like a bitter coffee, which is why so many cups are loaded with cream and sugar. But a well roasted specialty coffee, blend or single origin, will rarely be bitter. So grind all this awesome info up and see what you get!
There are a ton of roasts out there with a ton of different flavors and bitterness levels. If you don't want to get waste the coffee you can alway put a small pinch of salt in it, just be careful that you dont make your coffee taste salty. I swear it works. You can get a good deal with access to a ton of different roasts at gevalia. Thats what I did until I found a roast I liked., if you are interested.
I also prefer the smoother coffees. Here are some of my favorites from Terroir Coffee (bought online), although Peet's also has some similar ones which I believe can also be mail ordered (we buy from the local store) as I'm sure other places do as well. The regions are in parentheses but not sure how much difference there would be (I think there have been other topics posted on that subject)

Sumatra (Mandheling)
India (Elkhill)
Costa Rica (La Magnolia)
Brazil (Daterra)

Generally I find African coffees are too acidic for my tastes.

Also try different brewing methods (don't recall if this was already mentioned). Some of the above I prefer as French press vs drip, others the opposite.

Hmmm, all this has made me want another cup! Happy tasting!
JenC, if you don''t mind sharing where you live, I can refer you somewhere local to help you brew a great cup of coffee at home.
The North or South Italian espresso from Daterra beans from Terroir would probably work for you. Also, lighthouse in Seattle has many smooth blends, even their French blend is not very bitter.