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There’s no denying the cultural phenomenon that coffee has become. It seems to be everywhere you look, and for many of us a daily part of our lives. One thing we’ve noticed is that while more and more people are learning to love their favorite warm beverages, they have a lot of questions and misconceptions about what they’re actually drinking. Here we hope to clear up a few things and make the coffee-loving part of life that much sweeter.

Where Does Coffee Come From?

Coffee can be sourced from any number of places all around the world. At DISTRICT Roasters, we’re proud to maintain direct relationships with premier farmers in some of the world’s finest coffee-growing regions. Our coffees come from places like Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Brazil, Burundi, Ethiopia, and more.

How Much Caffeine Does Coffee Have?

There are several factors that can determine how much caffeine is in a cup of coffee. There’s no universal, one-size-fits-all answer, so here’s what you should try to remember: Coffee is naturally caffeinated, so the closer your coffee is to its plant state, the more caffeine it will have. That means that lighter roasts will have more caffeine than darker roasts and that fresh coffee beans will have far more to offer than those that were ground up, bagged, and have been sitting on a grocery store shelf for weeks—or in some cases up to a year.

One other point to make about this is that we don’t think of coffee as merely a tool to provide us with a kick-start when we rise in the morning. We belong to that special tribe of degenerates who actually love the stuff for what it is and truly enjoy drinking it regardless of caffeination. However, if your sole interest lies in caffeine content, look for coffee made from Robusta beans, as certain types of coffee beans will have different levels of caffeination.

Is Coffee Good for You?

Talk to your doctor about this one. The truth is different coffee plants come from different environments and are grown in different soils which mean they’ll all produce fruit with a different chemical makeup. Just like with the caffeine issue, there’s no way to say that all coffee is inherently good or bad because it will vary from cup to cup.

Now we’re not doctors. But, what we will say is that straight black coffee, in reasonable quantities, probably won’t give your body any fits. Again, this isn’t true of everyone because some people are sensitive to things like caffeine. However, the additional things you add to coffee such as milks, creams, syrups, and the like, are far more likely to have a stronger impact on your overall health. If you’re concerned about a specific issue, keep in mind that it’s not only the coffee you should watch out for and talk to your doctor about whether there’s any possibility coffee could be doing any harm. Enjoy responsibly, as they say!

How Do I Choose Which Coffee to Buy?

Many grocers now have entire aisles dedicated to coffee. The choices can be overwhelming! We always recommend trying to find out as much as you can about different coffees before making a purchase. Start by learning where and how the coffee is sourced. How fresh is the coffee likely to be? Is it from a region that generally produces decent coffee? Is there any possibility that it’s not a fair trade product?

Consider the roast as well. Try coffees from different roasting profiles to identify your preferences and look for coffees that are likely to fit those. You should also consider the roaster. An independent, craft roaster like us is able to put more TLC into each batch than a larger factory-type model that is forced to meet production and profitability requirements. Remember, their goals are usually determined by bottom lines—not product quality. With that in mind, we recommend only buying from fourth wave roasters.

What Does Fourth Wave Mean?

he different ways coffee is harvested, produced, and sold have been broken into “waves” which are marked by major shifts in commercial trends. We do have a page where we take a deep look at what fourth wave means and also have a pretty sweet infographic that one of our talented friends made to help explain the differences between first, second, third, and fourth wave.

For the record, we’re proud to call ourselves a fourth wave roaster.

What’s the Best Way to Brew Coffee at Home?

This one is completely subjective. When it comes to making great coffee, we have one simple rule: Do what you like! We recommend experimenting with several brewing methods and figuring out exactly what you like the most. That’s really the best answer we can give.

Which Coffee Maker Is Best for Me?

There are a lot of options out there and there are a lot of people who actually keep several coffee makers on hand. If you’re only going to choose one to be your everyday coffee maker, we definitely recommend checking out these brewing tips to find what works best for you.

Is It Possible to Make My Favorite Cafe-style Coffee Drinks at Home?

Of course! Heading to the corner cafe regularly can become an expensive and time-consuming habit. It’s actually pretty easy nowadays to make most, if not all, of your favorite coffee drinks at home. Check out this introduction to coffee drink types for some tips on how to do just that, as well as some of our favorite recipes.

What’s Up with that Oily-Looking Dark Roast?

For a lot of roasters, this one will be a sensitive subject. Many roasters use lower-quality or burnt beans to produce dark roast coffee. It doesn’t typically have the same vibrant, organic flavors that good coffee should have but is usually marketed as a specialty item. We actually do not offer a dark roast option because we simply don’t think there’s a way to make such a coffee that we’d be proud to put our name on. We are extremely thorough about sourcing what we believe to be some of the best coffee in the world and we hate the idea of compromising its quality by over-cooking it or settling for less.

Should I Buy Whole Bean or Pre-Ground?

We recommend buying whole bean. When it comes to making coffee, the fresher your beans are the better your cup will turn out. When coffee beans are ground they begin losing some of the natural chemical components that make them so flavorful and rich. The air starts settling in and before you know it they become nothing more than a dark, dried up powder. When you buy whole coffee beans and grind them fresh immediately before brewing them, there’s less time for those compounds to dissipate or for oxidation to occur within the beans. The difference is night and day.

Along the same lines, we recommend buying coffee directly from a roaster rather than off a grocery store shelf. There are many popular names lining those aisles, but you don’t know how long the beans have been sitting in that exact spot waiting for someone to carry them away. When you buy directly from a roaster, many of them will tell you exactly when your beans were roasted so you can feel good about how fresh your product will be.

Do I Really Need a Coffee Grinder?

This one has to be an emphatic YES! The difference between pre-ground coffee and fresh-ground beans makes this one easy to justify. Grinding your coffee is a quick, simple step in the coffee making process. While top-of-the-line grinders can be fairly expensive, there are plenty of inexpensive options that will serve the average coffee drinker very well. We recommend a burr-type grinder as it delivers the best grind at the lowest grind temperature (not accidentally “roasting” your beans while grinding).

How Should I Store My Coffee After Buying It?

If you’re buying whole beans from another source other than DISTRICT Roasters, we recommend removing them from their original packaging as soon as you get home. Put them in an airtight glass jar to slow the oxidation process as much as possible. This will help you maintain freshness way better than a paper or plastic bag. If you buy pre-ground beans, there’s really no reason to remove them from their original packaging. The only thing to watch for is to make sure that the bag or can is resealable.

What’s the Difference Between Coffee and Espresso?

There seems to be a lot of confusion about this but the major difference is in how the beans are roasted and the drink is brewed. Of course, there’s a bit more to it than that so it might be best to learn what espresso is.

Can I Roast Coffee Beans Myself?

It’s possible to roast coffee beans at home and there are some people who’ve developed their own practices with which they’re happy. However, roasting coffee beans is not as simple as roasting, say, vegetables, and most people don’t actually have the tools necessary to do perform this task well.

Aren’t All Coffee Roasters the Same?

Not by a long shot! The differences in coffee roasters are as varied as the differences in vegetable growers and grocery stores. Each has its own unique approach to bean sourcing, roasting and packaging and culture.

Can I Grow My Own Coffee?

It is technically possible to grow coffee in some parts of the United States but in all reality there are places in the world with far more favorable environmental factors. That’s why you are far more likely to see a huge selection of coffees from places like Colombia or Papua New Guinea than Texas, New Mexico, or any other state.

In Conclusion

We hope this helps you understand and enjoy coffee a little bit more. As more and more people begin drinking coffee, it seems like the amount of misinformation is growing. For better or worse, coffee is a huge industry. Remember, it’s the world’s second largest commodity behind oil. Unfortunately for consumers, that means that a lot of bigger companies are using poor and sometimes even misleading marketing, lower coffee bean quality and poor roasting profiles to help boost revenue. What we can celebrate, however, is that there are still countless coffee enthusiasts like our team who are happy to share information make coffee something everyone can enjoy!