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How to Read a Coffee Bag

Posted by Bean & Bean on
How to Read a Coffee Bag

Shopping for coffee should never be difficult. Coffee bags are one of the best ways to get to know what coffee you’re buying and figure out if it's a right fit for you. We'll explain what popular terms on your coffee bag actually mean and how you can use the coffee packaging to complete your next purchase.  

Overview

Coffee bags may list any of the following information: 

  • Name of the Roasting Company
  • The Origin of the Coffee
  • Single Origin or Blend
  • Roast Level
  • How the Coffee was Processed
  • Coffee Variety
  • Altitude
  • Any Certifications
  • Whole Bean or Ground
  • Tasting Notes
  • Roast Date
  • Roaster Information

Brand Information

Honey coffee bean and bean

The first piece of information that might catch your eye is the brand information. This includes the name of the brand, where they are located, what their mission is, and how they source their coffee. You can find brand information on all sides of a coffee bag, but the brand name is usually found on the front and center. The location of the brand or coffee roaster is most likely directly under the name. Information about the company is usually located on the side panels or on the back of the bag and can be accompanied by graphics or a logo.

Here's a helpful video for reading coffee bag labels:

Coffee Growing Information

Most bags or specialty coffee bags will include where the coffee is grown and even what altitude it was grown at. Usually, the coffee’s origin is listed on the front of the coffee bag and will be either a country or region. For example, many single origin coffees are obvious because the name of the coffee starts with the location it came from, like Peruvian coffee or Kona coffee. Other coffee growing information may be found close together, either in a small table or informational chart on the front of sides of the bag. 

Coffee Type Information

The next type of coffee information on bags is the type of coffee it is. For example, is it a single origin coffee or is it a blend? Is it organic, fair-trade, bird-friendly? This information can often be drawn from the coffee’s name, like our Downtown Blend. More general labels, like organic or fair-trade will be placed as a small logo on the corners of the bag. You can also find information about the variety of coffee it is, how it is processed, and if it's whole bean or ground. 

Coffee Roast Information

Downtown blend bean and bean

Coffee bags will label coffee as light, medium, or dark roast. As the name suggests, light roasts are coffee beans that have been roasted the least and dark roasts are coffee beans that have been roasted the most. Each roast level has a general flavor profile and color, but what roast tastes best to you depends on your personal tastes.

In addition to the roast level, coffee bags will also include the roast date. This is important information to look for to ensure the coffee is fresh. We recommend buying coffee that is at least a week or two weeks after the day it was roasted. Coffee is at its peak freshness around 2 weeks after it is roasted; any longer than that and you'll have coffee that turns stale after a week or so. 

Flavor Profile 

Peru las damas bean and bean

The last information coffee bags may give you is the flavor profile or tasting notes of a coffee.You might see coffee bags say that a coffee tastes like 'cherry' or 'chocolate' or 'roasted nuts', but contrary to popular belief, that doesn't mean that the coffee is flavored. Rather, the coffee beans themselves have hints of these flavors as a result of the land it is grown on. Different areas of the world grow coffee with distinct flavors or notes in it. For example, Kona coffee from Hawaii has a very distinct taste because it is grown on volcanic soil. 

Conclusion 

Hopefully, after reading this guide on how to read coffee bags, shopping for coffee will be easier. By being able to understand what the grower or roaster wants you to tastes in a cup of coffee makes it easier to appreciate it!

Wanna practice reading labels? Check out the coffee on our site to put your newfound knowledge to the test. 

 

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