How to Choose the Best Coffee Beans for Your Favourite Brew
on Jun 30, 2023
Choosing the best coffee beans starts with matching them to your preferred drink and brewing method.
We’re not ashamed to admit we take our coffee pretty seriously - as specialty brewers, we live and breathe it. You’re probably here because you’re particular about coffee too, and while you can trust you’re in good hands at your favourite local café, it can be hard to know which beans to use when making your preferred coffee at home.
Whether you’re a devout latte drinker or a long black lover – and whether you own an espresso machine or use another at-home brewing method – this handy guide explains how to choose the best coffee beans for your favourite cuppa.
Best Beans for Black Espresso Coffees: Ristretto, Espresso, Long Black
If you like your coffee without milk, a lighter roast is the way to go. Light to medium roasts often produce a more interesting, flavourful and balanced cup, which is what makes them a perfect match for black coffees.
From our all-star lineup, we’d recommend Three-Oh-Three. It’s our most complex blend, roasted lightly to allow the unique flavours of each region to shine.
It combines three of the world’s finest arabicas - Brazilian, which lays a base of caramel sweetness and buttery smoothness, Colombian, which produces delicate blackberry notes, and Zimbabwean, which leaves you with soft, crisp citrus flavours. There’s certainly a lot to enjoy in this blend.
For coffee drinkers keen to get technical with their espresso blends, here are our recommended extraction parameters:
- Dose/In – 23.5g
- Yield/Out – 50g
- Time – 30-33 seconds
Best Coffee Beans for Milk-Based Espressos: Flat White, Latte, Cappuccino, Mocha, Macchiato, Piccolo
Darker roasts are best suited for milk-based drinks as they create cut-through – meaning you can still taste and enjoy the coffee when mixed with milk.
Our Eight-O-Eight blend delivers exactly that. It’s full bodied and crisp, with rich tasting notes of caramel, hazelnut and chocolate. The dynamic blend is made up of 100% Arabica beans from Guatemala and Brazil in Central and South America.
There's a reason Eight-O-Eight is our top seller, they are simply the best coffee beans in our range.
The Guatemalan beans are grown at high altitude in volcanic soil and are complemented by Brazilian beans sourced from tropical savanna regions known for their natural credentials and superior quality coffee production. Coffees grown from these areas make for a perfectly balanced, smooth blend.
Below are our recommended extraction parameters for Eight-O-Eight:
- Dose/In – 23g
- Yield/Out – 44g
- Time – 28-32 seconds
Best Beans for Cold Brew and Alternative Brewing Methods: AeroPress, V60, Chemex, Moccamaster, Stovetop, Plunger/French Press
If you use any of these alternative brewing methods, we recommend choosing single origin beans. Alternative brewing is a great way to enjoy singles as they typically results in a lighter-bodied coffee compared to an espresso. This means you can better appreciate the delicate tasting notes of the beans, which, when roasted on the lighter side, accentuate the unique tasting notes further.
Throughout the year, Will & Co roasts limited batches of singles from across the world. When these are available, be sure to stock up. If they're out of stock when you're looking to buy, our lightest blends – Three-Oh-Three and Goofy – would be our next picks for alternative brewing. Goofy is a slightly darker roast than Three-Oh-Three, which we covered above, and works well with a dash of milk.
Sydneysiders can also pick up Will & Co single origin coffee year-round at our HQ Tasting Bar in Bondi Beach.
FAQs About Choosing the Best Coffee Beans
What are the most popular coffees in Australia?
Around 75% of Aussies drink at least one cup of coffee per day, keeping coffee roasters and baristas busy!
We heavily favour milk-based coffees, with the top three most popular being the cappuccino, latte, and Australia’s very own creation, the flat white. Their ranking order varies by state, but they’re consistently at the top. A quarter (25%) of all coffees sold at cafés across the country.
Learn more about Australia’s most popular coffee orders – and what types of milk we prefer – here.
What are the smoothest coffee beans?
When it comes to describing coffee, “smooth” refers to coffee that’s free from harsh flavours and isn’t too bitter. Arabica is arguably the smoothest type of coffee bean on the market. It’s generally less acidic and has more complex, balanced flavours.
Blends also tend to be smoother than singles as the characteristics of various origins balance each other out. That doesn’t mean that single origins aren’t smooth - there are a bunch out there - but many singles highlight punchy, fruit-forward notes and bright acidity. When it comes to the Will & Co line-up, our signature blend, Eight-O-Eight, is the smoothest house blend of the bunch.
What’s the difference between Arabica and Robusta coffee beans?
Arabica and Robusta are the two most common coffee bean types in the world, but the quality of the cup they make is quite different. Only Arabica coffee beans can be classified as “specialty grade”; these are often described as being sweeter, smoother and more complex than Robusta. They are grown at higher altitudes, which enhances their unique flavour profile, and also contain a less intense caffeine form that’s more palatable.
Opt for Arabica if you want the best coffee beans - your taste buds will thank you for it.
Robusta beans, on the other hand, are grown at lower altitudes and have a much stronger taste due to their higher caffeine levels. Robusta coffee tastes earthier and more bitter, and is often found in instant coffees as it’s less expensive.
Will & Co uses 100% specialty grade Arabica coffee in all our blends and singles. That’s a big part of our mission to share the world’s greatest coffees with the world’s greatest humans.
What are specialty coffee beans?
Long story short, speciality grade coffee beans are the best of the best. “Specialty” describes a particular coffee made from the most premium quality beans grown in ideal conditions with tender loving care by experienced coffee farmers.
A speciality-grade rating refers to Arabica coffees that score 80 or more on a 100-point scale assessed by professionals known as Q-Graders, who are skilled in sensory evaluation of green coffee (they’re basically the wine sommelier equivalent to the coffee industry).
If you’re keen to learn more, check out our blog: What’s all the fuss about specialty coffee?
How long do coffee beans last?
Coffee is a perishable product, which means it can and does go bad. All beans, regardless of their specialty rating, contain natural oils that begin to oxidise when exposed to air. Even if you keep your beans away from oxygen, say in the sealed bag they came in, they will become stale with time.
Roasted coffee beans can last for up to a year in a vacuum-sealed bag or air-tight container, but once you’ve opened a bag, we recommend using them up as quickly as possible. Roast coffee retains most of its freshness if used within one week after opening, but only if stored in a cool, dark and dry environment with low exposure to oxygen.
You can still make good coffee with these beans up to three weeks from opening, but the flavour that takes your cuppa from “good” to “great” will have deteriorated significantly. Click the following link to find out more about storing coffee to keep it fresh to ensure you make the best coffees.
How do I make the perfect cup of coffee?
To get the best out of your coffee beans in a home machine, here are some fail-safe tips:
- Always use fresh beans and only grind what you need
- Follow the recipe – each Will & Co coffee has a unique set of brewing parameters regarding dose, yield and time, which you can find on each product page
- Make sure you clean your machine on a regular basis – we know it’s an annoying task, but tending to your machine once a month should do the trick and save you money in the long term
If you’re using an alternative brewing method (AeroPress, V60, Chemex, Moccamaster, Stovetop, Plunger/French Press, etc.), make sure to check out our brewtorials, but here is some universal advice for making high quality coffee at home:
- Preheat your brewing device by rinsing it with hot water
- Use freshly-ground coffee suited for your brewing method
- Weigh your coffee and water and use a timer to get exact
- Heat your water to 94-96 degrees Celsius – boiling water will make your coffee bitter (the right water temperature is often overlooked)
- Clean your brew gear after each use so it’s ready for next time