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 brew...
The word coffee comes from the Latin name for the genus of plants known as Coffea. There are at least 25 major species within the genus, but the two most commonly cultivated to create our nation's favourite pick-me-up are Coffea arabica, which yields the Arabica bean, and Coffea canephora – the Robusta bean.
Coffee beans are the seeds of the coffee plant, which are surrounded by a fruit or 'cherry' that turns red when it is ready to be harvested.
Arabica beans make up about two thirds of the world's coffee production. Widely considered to create a finer flavour than the Robusta, the Arabica bean tends to be brighter and more fragrant. The Robusta bean, however, is earthier and more powerful, meaning it can add richness and depth to a well-made blend and an extra kick to your morning brew.
"While Arabica beans tend to be brighter and more fragrant, Robusta beans have an earthier flavour."
As with wine, regional variations play a large part in the flavour of coffee. As a general rule, Guatemalan coffees tend towards balanced profiles with bright, clean flavours, Kenyan coffees have a bold flavour with a characteristic sharpness and Brazilian coffees will have a low acidity and are often rich with caramel tones.
Roasting is the most crucial step in developing a coffee’s flavour. The natural sugars of the beans are caramelised and the complex coffee oils, which give a coffee its aroma and flavour, are produced.
"Well-roasted coffee beans should be a rich chestnut brown, never black, and should appear smooth on the outer surface with a slight sheen."
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, finally, dark roasts yield a bittersweet taste that starts to dominate the bean’s natural flavour profile.
How To Store
Grinding your own coffee beans every morning is a luxury that you might want to consider if you drink a lot of coffee, but buying ground coffee is a quick and easy middle ground between whole beans and instant. Store your coffee in an airtight container and consume within four to six weeks for optimum flavour.
Die hard coffee fans may turn their noses up at the idea of drinking coffee from a capsule, but Nespresso’s pioneering coffee machines have been specially developed to replicate the experience of a fresh espresso, while milk frothing attachments will turn your Americano into a takeaway-worthy latte or cappuccino.