Green Coffee Beans & Roasting FAQ

How to check green coffee beans for quality and freshness?

High quality and fresh green coffee beans have a pleasant sweet grassy smell and a greenish colour tone, similar to jade. The beans’ shape, size, and colour will vary depending on origin but should be uniform across the batch. Some remainder silver skin, the inner parchment layer of the coffee cheery, may be present and it is perfectly normal. Specialty grade green coffee beans should be virtually free of defects such as malformation, black spots, holes, and have minimal breakage and should contain no foreign material.

What is the shelf life of green coffee beans?

Green coffee beans have a shelf life of 2-3 years if stored in a sealed container, room temperature (18-22 °C), away from direct sunlight, strong light sources, and humidity between 50-60%. Over time, the green coffee beans will gradually lose moisture, aroma, and colour, which can affect its flavour once roasted.

How to choose green coffee beans?

Coffee beans can vary from region to region, and from farm to farm, so we recommend learning some basics before buying, for instance:

Processing methods: natural (dry) and washed (wet) are the two main ways that green coffee beans are processed. Dry processing produces coffee beans that are sweeter and heavier with a more distinct taste. Wet processing produces coffee beans that have a light, clean taste.

Coffee tasting language: Acidity is the brightness or sourness of taste. Common acidic flavours are citric (orange, lemon flavours), ascorbic (mango, pineapple flavours) and malic (green apple, pear flavours). Aroma is the flavour you can detect with your nose. Body is the mouthfeel. Swishing coffee in your mouth can produce texture sensations such as watery, oily, etc. Sweetness is the intensity of the sugary flavours when swishing the coffee around in the mouth.

If you have a grasp of the basics, you can search for a coffee that will produce the flavours most likely to suit your palate.

Next, try a coffee sampler or buy a small amount of green coffee beans at first. Roast them, and if you like the way it tastes, go back and buy a larger quantity.
Take notes: when you find a coffee that you particularly like, make a note of the variety, origin, region and the flavours and you liked it. You will slowly build a repertoire of coffees and roast profiles that you most enjoy.

Is high-grown coffee better?

Not necessarily, but the higher the coffee is grown, the longer it takes to mature, so the coffee trees have more time to pull all of those rich nutrients out of the soil which improves the coffee flavour. In addition, high-grown coffees are more likely to be farmed and harvested by hand, because heavy machinery cannot operate on mountain slopes. This extra care and attention results in high-quality coffee.

What is speciality coffee?

Coffee beans are graded according to a point scale called 'cupping score', which goes up to 100. The score is determined by evaluating the green beans physical aspects (quality, sizes, defects) and its flavour characteristics after roasted. The higher the score, the better the coffee. Premium coffee usually scores between 77-79 points. Specialty coffee scores between 80-100 points. Most specialty coffees are on the 80-87 point range. Anything above 88 points can be considered high-end specialty coffee. Coffees above 94 points can be exceedingly rare and incredibly expensive.

Roasting Brazilian specialty green coffee beans

Specialty Brazilian green coffee beans are versatile and delicious. They will display the classic Brazilian coffee flavours like cocoa, nuts, caramel, and molasses, but also glimpses of floral notes and subtle fruit accents. Because of that, they are great for espresso but also a good choice for pour-over brews.

For pour-over brews, we recommend stopping the roast when the first crack finishes (City), or a few seconds after it finishes (City+). For espresso, we recommend taking the roast to the verge of the second crack (Full City) or up to a few seconds after the second crack starts (Full City+).

Why roast coffee at home?

Roasting coffee at home is fun and easy, and your reward is the freshest coffee around! It is also an enjoyable hobby and with the huge variety of coffees available, you can explore the artistry of creating new coffee blends, tinkering with different roasting methods, and developing your sense of taste. You can also impress your friends and family by gifting them freshly home-roasted coffee!

Green, unroasted, coffee beans also generally cost half the price of what you would pay for the same kind of bean roasted. If you are an avid coffee drinker, you can really save money by roasting your own. And you don’t need any fancy equipment. A popcorn machine, which can also be used to roast coffee beans, retails for around NZD 40.

How do I roast green coffee beans?

Roasting coffee at home is quite simple. It only takes 5-10 minutes to roast a small batch of coffee beans, and you can use an oven, a frying pan, a popcorn popper, or a coffee roasting appliance. The method you chose would depend on how much money you are willing to invest, and the level of control and convenience you want. A popcorn popper, which can also be used to roast coffee beans, retails for around 40 NZD. An entry-level coffee roaster such as the Behmor 1600 or Gene Cafe retails for around 400-800 NZD.

We recommend consulting dedicate websites and forums on home roasting. They will provide a multitude of instruction and tips to get you started. Our favourite sites with dedicated sections to home roasting:

How to store freshly roasted coffee beans?

To preserve your beans' fresh roasted flavour as long as possible, we recommend storing in an opaque airtight container at room temperature. Coffee spoils when exposed to oxygen, water, or heat so keep your container in a dark, cool and dry location.

What is the shelf life of roasted coffee beans?

Coffee does not spoil if stored properly; however, it will lose flavour over time the coffee will start to taste stale and dull. Coffee tastes better when consumed within 2-3 weeks of roasting. For light and medium roasts, we recommend consuming within two weeks of roasting. Darker roasts may keep its flavour for a few more weeks.