Artisan coffee - what is it and why is it better than ordinary, widely available coffee?
Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world. Millions of people drink it every morning to give themselves energy for the day. Most of them do not think about what is actually in their cups. What are they drinking and is it healthy for them? Is the high shop price of a popular brand of coffee a guarantee of its high quality? Why should you read coffee labels and choose artisan coffees - niche, less well-known coffees? Today we will try to answer all these questions.
- Why are artisan products better than mass-produced ones?
- Artisan coffee - what is this?
- Differences between artisan and mass-produced coffee
- How do you recognise high quality coffee?
- Artisan Mary Rose coffee
Why are artisan products better than mass-produced ones?
With widespread access to information - books, specialised press, blogs and websites run by professionals, our awareness is still increasing. We are thinking more and more about what we eat and drink, what we wear, what we buy and what we choose. We read labels and tags of products more often, we look for information on the internet, we educate ourselves. We are beginning to question the persuasive slogans shouted at us from the colourful adverts of popular producers, varied by a rich vocabulary. We are no longer fooled by marketing tricks. We want to buy products that are actually of the highest quality, not ones that are merely labelled as such. Even if this will come at a significantly higher price. We choose products that have been created with passion, with attention to detail, ones that are unique. This is confirmed by research that most consumers are more likely to choose products that are handmade. Consumers value artisanal products for their tried-and-tested recipes and transparent production process. Most of us like to know that there are real people behind the products we buy, not just soulless machines.
Artisan coffee - what is this?
Artisanal products are those that are made on a small scale, by local manufactures. There are flesh and blood people behind their production, and the products that reach customers are the result of their hard work. Artisanal products are often created using traditional methods, by hand, without the use of machines and without the use of chemicals - in the case of food products. They are made from natural ingredients - not imported from questionable sources. You will not find these products on the shelves of popular supermarkets, and their quantity is severely limited. Artisanal or handcrafted can be everyday products, but also food products - honey, jam, pickles, spirits or coffee - one of the most popular beverages in the world. The coffee market is huge. Billions of kilos of coffee are produced every year. This market is inevitably dominated by large corporations, brands that everyone knows, which are geared towards the highest possible profit. Although they often promote their products as being of the highest quality, premium, in reality, quality does not count at all. It is the money that counts. Alongside these giants there are niche, local companies whose products reach a very limited audience. Their products are more expensive, but with the higher price also comes the real high quality and attention to every detail of the production process. Until recently, these types of products - niche coffees, produced on small plantations, roasted in small, almost unknown roasters - were associated with products available only to connoisseurs. The average coffee drinker drank what was available at hand, at the nearest shop. Quickly and cheaply. Today, in the age of online shopping and wide access to the most diverse products, we can easily buy literally anything. More and more artisan coffee roasters are springing up to sell their products via the Internet and in this way reach a larger audience. And the public is becoming more and more interested in good coffee that really is of high quality and not just on the label. So let's clarify definitively: artisan coffee - what is it? Why is it worth paying more for good quality coffee? How do you know a quality coffee?
Differences between artisan and mass-produced coffee
Many factors influence the taste and aroma of coffee. In fact, each stage of its creation is extremely important and any small change can dramatically alter the taste and aroma qualities of the brew. How do artisan and mass-produced coffees differ in terms of production and how does this affect the final character of the product? Let's start at the beginning.
Cultivation of the coffee plant
Coffea is a very sensitive plant to climatic and topographical factors. In order for a coffee plant to produce valuable fruit from which the coffee beans will be shelled, it needs to grow in sufficiently fertile soil, temperature and humidity. Adequate sunlight is also important, which is why coffee plants are grown in mountainous areas - the higher the altitude, the better the quality of the fruit. The thing is, mountainous, high altitude terrain is inaccessible to machinery. It is not worthwhile for large coffee companies, focused on making as much profit as possible and as quickly as possible, to invest in the manual cultivation of the coffee tree, which is more time-consuming and requires more labour. Industrial coffee loses out to artisan coffee right from the start - it is grown on lower-lying land - less valuable, but where machines that improve coffee farming can reach. On top of this, the soil on which the plants grow is barren, devoid of any value, but full of chemicals and pesticides.
Harvesting of coffee cherries
On small, high-altitude plantations, growers harvest the coffee cherries by hand, carefully selecting them and choosing only the best and most valuable ones. They have the time and opportunity to look closely at each coffee cherry. On plantations where the crop is destined for mass production, the coffee cherries are harvested in bulk - along with the good cherries, the unripe, spoiled or pest-bitten ones are also collected. The beans shelled from these are of much lower quality. After harvesting, the quality of the grains is assessed by Q graders - they check for rotten, fermented, cracked, insect-eaten or unripe grains. Colour and aroma are also assessed. Defects are counted and, on this basis, the coffee beans are divided into several segments: specialty (highest quality), premium, exchange, below standard or off (lowest quality, “waste”). Interestingly, the beans that are disqualified are not discarded at all. They end up in mass production and then on the shelves of supermarkets.
Transport of coffee beans
Dried, pre-processed, raw coffee beans go from the small plantation straight to the roastery or wholesaler, usually without any intermediaries. The coffee beans are packed in jute sacks and loaded into large sea containers. Transport by sea usually takes about a month. Large coffee corporations often do not have their own plantations, but use intermediaries - the beans obtained in this way not only travel a long way to the industrial roastery, but are often stored first, even for several years, so that they lose their valuable qualities.
Coffee bean roasting
Large coffee companies, wanting to “hide” the low quality of their beans, roast them to a dark degree. Very dark-roasted coffee is stronger in flavour, more bitter, at the same time its taste and aroma are not as rich, one does not sense depth. The beans are simply burnt. In addition, large corporations, wanting to save as much as possible on coffee roasting time, shorten the coffee beans roasting process by roasting them at very high temperatures. The beans become oily from the essential oils that should remain inside them, and after a while they become rancid. They also lose the flavour notes that are characteristic of the region they come from. For example, true Brazilian coffee beans should have perceptible nut and chocolate notes. However, any mass-produced coffee bean, even if labeled “Brasil” on the packaging, tastes the same. Mass-roasted coffees are once again stored in warehouses, waiting to be sold for up to several months and thus lose their value completely. Small, artisanal coffee roasters spend much more time on the roasting stage of the beans. Experienced roasters adapt the roasting time and temperature to the sensory profile they want to achieve. They approach this with passion and commitment. They bring out the best of the beans.
How do you recognise high quality coffee?
The first thing that comes to mind when wanting to differentiate between commercial and artisan coffee is price. Indeed, a high-quality coffee, sourced from a small plantation and roasted in a small artisan roaster, cannot be cheap. However, this does not mean that a low-quality product will be bought cheaper. Mass producers often overprice their products. They dress coffee made from low-quality beans with beautiful gold packaging that is reminiscent of high-end products. They advertise them as the best on the market and thus reach many consumers who are fooled by the slick marketing and the deceptively high price. The average customer does not pay attention to the lack of basic information on the coffee label, which would testify to its actual high quality. A good coffee is one with a transparent label that provides information on the exact origin of the beans (country, region, plantation name), the altitude (the higher the altitude, the better the quality of the beans), the botanical variety or the sensory profile. A very important piece of information that should appear on the label of a high quality coffee is also the way and date the beans were roasted. It is best to drink coffee within 7-90 days of roasting the beans. After this time, the coffee will weather and lose its valuable qualities. If you can't find this basic information on the coffee label, even if it is promoted as "the world's best quality coffee", don't be fooled.
Artisan Mary Rose coffee
Many coffee lovers who drink ordinary, store-bought coffee on a daily basis are unaware of what is actually in their cups. This is hardly surprising. They are used to one flavour. Someone who has never tasted the real, artisan coffee does not know what he is missing out on. In the wave of fashion for leading a healthy lifestyle and choosing healthy food, it is worth reaching for higher quality products - from a verified source, fresh, created with an individual approach. Artisan coffees are a guarantee of uniqueness, rich flavours and aromas, as well as a guarantee of a good product and a fresh roast. If we have convinced you, you don't have to look far for a good artisan coffee - we recommend the Mary Rose coffees that we have on offer in our shop, from a small coffee roastery located in Poland. Delicious Brazilian coffee beans from three regions - Cerrado, Guaxupé and Mogiana - are available. Mary Rose coffee roastery also offers an incredibly subtle coffee beans from Colombia, from the Medellín region - with chocolate, caramel and fruity notes, and a wonderful coffee beans from Mexico, sourced from around the two Mexican towns of Jaltenango and Villa Corzo, with a light, pleasant flavour and smooth body.
There is a saying: you are what you eat (and drink). So it makes sense to choose healthy products from reliable sources - even if they are a little more expensive. It's an investment in your own health!
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