Have you ever heard anyone say, “Cheap coffee is just as good as expensive coffee”? As a master coffee roaster, I can confidently say that I agree. Generally speaking, cheap coffee is every bit as good as your typical expensive specialty coffee. That seems counter intuitive doesn’t it?
The trick to figuring out why cheap coffee often tastes just as good as expensive coffee comes down to comparing apples to oranges, not apples to apples. Let me put it this way. You could say, “Seen one woman, seen them all.” or “Seen one movie, seen them all”. The list of lumping all like items into one basket is endless.
So, why would cheap coffee often taste as good or better than expensive coffee? The difference or similarity lies in their similarities. If you take bad inferior beans, burn the snot out of them, then let them sit in warehouses or store shelves for months, then you’re going to get pretty much the same taste, regardless of the price.
Instead of comparing cheap coffee to expensive coffee, perhaps the correct question is to compare good coffee to bad coffee. There are four major variables that make up coffee.
- Quality of the raw green beans
- Quality of the roasting
- Freshness of the roasted beans
Perhaps the most important variable is the freshness of the roasted beans. You could easily have cheap coffee that tastes better than expensive coffee just because the coffee was roasted just a few days ago. No matter how good the green beans were or how good the roasting was done, if the roasted beans are over a month old, then the coffee’s going to taste nasty, i.e., bitter.
The bottom line is this. If you want good coffee, don’t look for the most expensive coffee; look instead for a roast date that is less than a week. If it doesn’t have a roast date, you can bet your grandmother’s rocking chair that it’s going to taste nasty. Fresh roasted coffee beans always taste better.