Ethiopian beans are world-renowned for being unique in their intense fruity flavor.
Because the coffee plant naturally evolved in this part of the world, beans from Ethiopia vary depending on the subregion they’re from. Every little town has their own genetically unique set of plants.
All true coffee lovers see Ethiopia as their spiritual home, the same way a wine lover might wish to go the Bordeaux region in France.
Ethiopian coffee is either “natural,” where the bean is dried inside the cherry, or “washed,” where the bean is depulped before being washed.
Washed Ethiopian beans, like the one above from Bean & Bean, often have notes of jasmine and lemon. Their natural counterparts are usually more berry-like with notes of strawberry and blueberry.
Either way, due to their unique flavor profiles and high natural sugar content, Ethiopian beans should be enjoyed at a lighter roast level.
Roasting these beans dark or using them in a latte is a little bit like smothering a Michelin level meal with Heinz Ketchup. You can do it, but it’s just bad form.
Central American beans are often described as a balanced bean–replete with both unique fruit flavors and acidity along with the full cocoa and spice flavors characteristic of South American beans.
Guatemalan beans are a good place to start if you are unsure which flavor profile you prefer since it offers the best of both worlds.
Choose a light to medium roast for a balanced flavor. Go with a reputable roaster/farm combo such as Stumptown Coffee and this bean from El Injerto. This really is the gold standard in the world of coffee.
If you are sure you want to go all the way to the strong, bold coffee, an espresso blend is entirely appropriate for an Aeropress. These dark roasts will not give you many of the “light” notes in the previous two kinds, but you will taste all the flavors of the roast.
You can make a potent shot that resembles espresso and mixes it with hot milk. You can plunge into ice for a refreshing drink in the summer.
Or, if you are a traditionalist, you can simply drink the “espresso” shot without all the hassle and expense of a traditional espresso machine. Maybe in conjunction with a cool gadget like the Prismo, that enhances the espresso capability of the Aeropress a whole lot.
Personally, I rarely brew this kind of coffee at home but if I do I’ll definitely go for a direct trade blend from a serious roaster.
There is no single recommendation that will satisfy everyone since we all have different expectations of our coffee. It is essential, however, to know what to expect out of your beans and how to tailor your morning cup of coffee to your taste.
Coffee preferences can broadly be classified into drinkers who:
prefer the strong, bold coffee of a darker roast
and those who want the unique, subtle flavors out of lighter roast beans.
Luckily, the Aeropress excels at both styles.
Those who prefer a more classic medium to dark roast and robust flavor should go for a higher ratio of grounds to water. What we in coffee lingo call a “brew ratio”. Somewhere between 1:10 and 1:14 will likely be ideal.
The Aeropress works to maximize the amount of flavor in a short amount of time and creates something akin to espresso or moka pot.
For those who prefer a “third wave” experience, along with the fruity or acidic flavors that come with different beans, opt for a lighter roast.
A good rule of thumb is that for a dark roast, you taste the roast, while with a light roast, you experience the bean.
Since coffee drinkers who want to try the subtle flavors of a certain variety or processing method will not require a particularly strong brew, the brew ratio can be decreased to about 1:15 or a bit less. It is not recommended that you go any further than 1:18, however, because coffee will begin to taste “weak” or thin at this point.
(In Denmark we call the flavor of thin coffee “fox pee”, but I’m not sure what a proper English translation would be)
Recommended coffee beans for the Aeropress
Aside from grind size and roast, the country of origin of the bean contributes significantly to your coffee experience, particularly if you are opting for a lighter roast.
This is because beans from different countries offer unique flavor profiles owing to their varied growing conditions as well as genetic potential and processing.
Experiment with a few and see if any appeal to you in particular. Here are some guidelines for the more common countries of origins.
Hello, and welcome! I'm the editor & founder of this site. I have been a coffee geek since I started home roasting more than a decade ago. Since then, coffee has taken me on countless adventures: From ancient coffee ceremonies in Ethiopia to the volcanos of Sumatra. My background is in journalism, and today I'm also a licensed Q Grader under the Coffee Quality Institute.
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