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In the coffee aisle and unsure how to pick the best bag for you? 

Here is what you need to know.

We at The Cortado think that buying locally roasted coffee should not be complicated.  

We also think that you should know what you're buying so that you aren't wasting your hard-earned cash.  

That wall of beans can be overwhelming. We're here to help.  

Below are five quick and easy rules to follow to make sure that you are getting the best bang for your buck.  

1.  Check the Roast Date.  A "roast date" should be either stamped on the bag or on a sticker. If the bag doesn't have a "roast date", walk away from it. Fresh whole bean coffee from a local roaster should be treated like a perishable item. It is best within ten days of the roast date. After ten days, the coffee is considered "stale", which means it has "lost" its flavor. That is to say, it will still taste like the coffee you bought, just less intensely so. Imagine "lost" flavor of your coffee as similar to potpourri - it is much more potent when you buy it and set it out in your living room than after a couple of weeks. In sum, if you're investing the extra cash for the good stuff, check the roast date on your coffee to ensure you're getting your money's worth.

2.  Roast Profile Matters.  Generally, there are three types of roasts:  light, medium, and dark. If you're a casual coffee drinker, you're probably most familiar with "medium", because that is the roast profile of your basic can of coffee. Light coffee is more akin to tea in that will exhibit more flavors (trust us, it's still coffee, not tea) and those flavors can vary depending on the origin, while dark coffee is more bitter in taste and generally will taste the same regardless of origin. Also, some would be surprised to find that dark coffee has the least caffeine of the three roasts. 

3.  Light or Medium Roasts:  Origin Matters.  Generally speaking, the coffees from a certain region will taste similar, kind of like how wines from the same region taste similar. If you're buying a light or medium roast, you will notice differences in the flavor of the coffee depending on the region. We recommend grabbing your passport and exploring the world to find your favorite.  

4.  Dark Roasts:  Roaster Matters.  Generally, the flavor of a dark roast coffee comes from the flavor of the roaster machine itself and not the origin of the coffee. Therefore, if dark roasts are your thing, rather than dance between dark roasts from the same local roaster, The Cortado recommends trying the dark roasts of different local roasters.


5.  Whole Bean vs. Ground.  Sometimes, in the sea of whole bean coffees from local roasters available on the shelf, one rogue local roaster will provide a pre-ground option. Do not buy it. Just like how whole bean coffee goes "stale" over time, the process of going "stale" speeds up once the coffee is ground. The Cortado recommends buying a grinder (that basic $20 Krups grinder your parents use works like a champ) or using the grinder in the grocery store or coffee shop over buying pre-ground coffee (don't be afraid to ask for help). Again, if you're ponying up the cash, make sure you get your money's worth.

Still stuck on what to buy?  

Check The List for ideas.  

Curious whether the size of coffee grinds matters, or want to know which coffee grind is best for your coffee maker?  

Check The Grind.  

Have the coffee and the proper grind, but want to know how to make the best cup with your machine?  

Check The Brew How-To.  

The Cortado is here to help.

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