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The Coffee Guide

FEATURE: LONG READ
Words by EMILIE DOCK

With over 165 years’ experience in supplying the world’s finest coffee, the Harrods Food Halls and our extensive online offering present an exciting array of beans from across the globe. Coffee novice or java genius, consult our need-to-know guide to find yourself a few steps closer to the ultimate cup.

Know Your Beans

If you’re an avid coffee drinker, you’ve probably sampled a wide spectrum of beans from around the world. But despite the myriad flavours – from rich and chocolaty to bright and fruity – at the most basic level, most varieties of coffee fall into two categories of bean: arabica and robusta.

  • Arabica

    Arabica

    Arabica beans account for about two thirds of the world’s coffee production. They’re grown at a higher altitude and tend to have a bright body and fruitier flavour, with greater sugar and acidity levels.

  • Robusta

    Robusta

    Robusta has a stronger, more bitter taste than arabica, with a grain-like, nutty overtone. It also has almost double the level of caffeine, making it the most common bean for instant coffee.

From Bean to Cup

When it comes to coffee, we’ve learned to recognise terms likes crema and microfoam. We know a light roast from a dark roast, and can differentiate between a cortado and a flat white (for the most part). But how much do you know about how it gets from bean to cup? And what makes a Colombian brew taste different from a Kenyan?

  • The magic bean
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    The magic bean

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    The magic bean

    It all starts with the seeds of the coffee plant, which are surrounded by a fruit or ‘cherry’ that turns red when ready to be harvested. It takes around nine months for cherries to fully mature and 60 of them to brew just one small cup of coffee. Now think of how many cups of coffee are drunk per day…

  • Geography
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    Geography

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    Geography

    Climate, soil, rainfall and altitude all play a valuable role in shaping the flavour of coffee, meaning that an experienced palate can trace their brew to a region from a single sip. As a general rule, Guatemalan coffees tend towards balanced profiles with bright, clean flavours, while Kenyan coffees have a bold flavour with a characteristic sharpness.

  • Processing
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    Processing

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    Processing

    There are three ways to process a coffee ‘cherry’ and remove the pulp from the bean: the washed method, the natural method and the pulped natural method, each of which affects the flavour.

  • Image
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    Roasting

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    Roasting

    During this crucial process, the beans are caramelised and the complex oils – which give a coffee its aroma and flavour – are produced. In general, light roasts are acidic, bright and true to the taste of the coffee’s origin; medium roasts begin to mute the acidity and produce soft caramel notes; and dark roasts yield a bittersweet taste that starts to dominate the bean’s natural flavour profile.

The Harrods Roastery

Roasting our coffee beans in-house means we can create bespoke blends and offer tiny batches of speciality beans, without compromising on flavour. The fresher the roast, the better the taste.

Shop All Coffee

How Do You Take Your Coffee?

Overwhelmed with all the different coffee drinks out there? Get clued up on all the big hitters – then visit The Coffee Bar (Ground Floor) to savour them at their very finest (twice-baked almond croissant optional, but highly recommended).

Become Your Own Barista

Time was, if you wanted a proper coffee, you’d need to visit your local café. Today, there are myriad coffee makers promising to match the style and quality of barista-made brews. From drip filters to pods to percolators, find the perfect coffee maker for you.

Shop All Coffee Makers
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