How to Choose and Buy Coffee Beans in the UK
There has never been a better time to be a coffee lover here in the UK.
With millions of Brits enjoying a freshly brewed cup of coffee each day, it is no surprise that there are countless places to buy coffee beans, from supermarkets to coffee shops to speciality roasters.
Brewing coffee with freshly ground coffee beans offers an experience like no other. The natural flavours and aromas of the coffee really are at their best when freshly roasted and recently ground. If you’re looking to take your coffee to a new level buying and grinding your own coffee beans is a must.
So, what do you need to consider when choosing and buying coffee beans in the UK? Check out the handy guide below for all the information you need!
How Do You Like Your Coffee?
Before you consider buying coffee beans, it helps to think about the type of coffee you like most. We all have tastes and preferences, whether it’s a light-tasting coffee with fresh, crisp flavours or a darker roast with deep, rich tones.
If you are unsure of what you like, then that’s fine too - you get the fun of trying more coffee to see what you like most! Even experienced coffee lovers will come across coffee beans that aren’t to their liking, so don’t be put off if your first choice isn’t to your liking.
The reason it helps to identify your preferred coffee is that it makes finding tasty coffee beans that bit easier. Most beans will clearly state on their packaging what type of flavours and aromas they offer, going on a scale from lighter roasts to darker roasts.
- Light roasts - have been roasted for shorter periods, resulting in a less intense but no less flavourful taste - it’s great if you enjoy coffee that isn’t too strong or bitter.
- Darker roasts - have longer roast times so provide a much stronger and deeper taste, preferred by many who like a stronger coffee!
If you’re struggling then we have a quick tip for helping you work out your ideal coffee bean…
Visit Your Local Coffee Shops and Roasters.
If you have a particular coffee you like from your local coffee shop then that is a great place to start your research!
If they’re anything like us, then they’ll love the opportunity to tell about the beans they use, where they source them from, what the roast is – all the information you want to get a head start in choosing your coffee beans.
Some coffee shops might even sell their own coffee beans, which could be ideal for your needs!
For some, your favourite may very well be your major high street coffee retailers, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Getting the information about the beans they use is generally readily available online so you don’t even need to go into the shop to ask.
A word of warning, however! While many of them do sell their own beans we wouldn’t recommend sourcing your beans from them. While it might seem like the ideal solution the reality is they are mass-produced (they are a chain after all!) which in of itself affects quality.
The fresher the bean, the better the taste – it’s as simple as that.
Buying Your Coffee Beans - Always Check the Roast Date!
The number one golden rule for buying coffee beans in the UK is to check the roast date!
As mentioned above, freshly roasted coffee beans pack much more flavour. So, when buying coffee beans be sure to check the roast date - the shorter the roast date the fresher and more delicious the coffee beans will taste when brewed!
Avoid anything with a roast date longer than six months, as the freshness and quality start to drop after too long a period.
Also, by purchasing recently roasted beans, your coffee will last much longer.
Buy From Independent Roasteries
Ideally, you should be looking to buy from independent roasteries. Yes, they are more expensive than buying from a supermarket, but they absolutely won’t be beaten on quality. Why?
Because they roast in small batches, which has some great advantages:
- A good even roast
- Time and Care taken over the roast
- A focus on quality over quantity
- Better control over bad roasts
It may sound cliché but the extra attention given by small roasters, and the love they have for what they do really does make all the difference to the quality of the coffee beans you buy.
And if the cost is something that puts you off think of it this way – if you buy a 1kg bag of coffee beans for £20 that is 40p per coffee, which is a massive saving on a £3 from the shop!
Choosing and buying the right coffee beans for your tastes isn’t difficult, and can in fact be a really fun journey.
If you follow our tips here we have no doubt you’ll be enjoying the benefits of grinding your own coffee beans at home to make the perfect brew.