Flavor World

How to choose the best coffee

Brazil is the largest producer in the world (35% of world consumption) and also one of the largest consumers of coffee. However, although there are many coffees of excellent quality and at extremely attractive prices, most of the products available on the national market are not of such good quality, according to the segment’s own experts.

If compared to the quality of wine, the coffee that the Brazilian buys on the shelves of the supermarket would be a “Sangue de Boi”. Despite being the second largest consumer market in the world in absolute terms (second only to the United States), Brazil drinks very poor quality coffee, despite producing excellent beans.

Isabel Raposeiras photo: Marco Santana

The assessment is by Isabela Raposeiras, considered the greatest coffee specialist in Brazil. For her, the Brazilian is still learning to taste the drink and differentiate quality products. “Coffee offers more than a thousand sensory properties (aromas and flavors), much more than wine, which has about 300”, he explains.

Raposeiras says that the quality of a cup of coffee depends on a number of factors: the quality of the fruit, the location and how it was grown, storage after harvest, roasting, grinding, and finally, the way it was “passed”.

Traditional, superior and Gourmet
To indicate the quality of the product, the Brazilian Coffee Industry Association (Abic) divides coffees into three categories: traditional, superior and gourmet. It is classified according to a technical evaluation, considering characteristics such as type of coffee, aroma, body, flavor, grind, roast and drink. Made by experienced tasters, the evaluation identifies the amount of defects present in the sample (broken, green, black, ironed or burnt grains), and establishes a score from 0 to 10.

If the coffee does not reach a minimum score of 4, it does not receive the Abic quality seal. The strictest ones often say that the drink cannot even be considered coffee.

Traditional coffee- Coffee with grades 4, 5 and 6, which are defective in a maximum of 20% of the sample.

Superior Coffee – It has defects in up to 10% of the sample, and reaches a score between 6 and 7.3.

Gourmet- Considered to be pure coffee, it needs to have a grade higher than 7.3. In addition to not having any defects, it must have a precise roasting point. It must be composed of 100% Arabica-type grains.

Special Coffee – A category even higher than Gourmet coffee, is defined by the Brazillian Speciality Coffee Association (BSCA) , which takes into account 80 points of sensory analysis (among them, clarity, sweetness, body and acidity), in addition to other aspects, such as environmental, economic and social sustainability in all stages of production.

How to choose a good coffee


Roasting- Subjecting the beans to a temperature of 500 degrees for more than 5 seconds beyond what is necessary causes a noticeable difference. Often, in Brazil, it is possible to “pass the point” in more than 5 minutes, which compromises the final quality of the drink. In some cases, excess time is intentional, to mask grain defects.

Grinding- Ideally, coffee should be ground only at the time of preparation. “Coffee that has already been ground is like drinking wine from an open bottle two days ago,” says Raposeiras. “If people have a pepper grinder at home, why not have a grain grinder? A simple machine can be bought even on the internet for R $ 80 and lasts a lifetime ”.

The amount of powder – from 65 to 75 grams of powder for each liter (5 to 6 tablespoons).

The water – without chlorine.

The water temperature – According to Raposeiras, the myth that the water cannot be boiling caused many people to prepare coffee with the water at a temperature below the ideal. It needs to be at 96 degrees, so that all the aromas and flavors are released. On the other hand, too hot water can burn the powder and compromise the taste. The tip is: it started to boil, remove from heat and take to colander.

Decaffeinated- It’s like drinking non-alcoholic beer.

Sweetened coffee- Strictly speaking, adding sugar to coffee would be the equivalent of putting ice in wine. But the Brazilian has this custom due to the quality of the product he takes. A good coffee has enough flavor and sweetness to dispense with sugar. However, if you prefer, you can add refined sugar, brown sugar, honey or lemon, according to your own taste.

Cup- It is the best container for drinking coffee, but not the small one. Raposeiras recommends the larger ones for tea.


espresso coffee

Espresso coffee – Although many people think it is written “expresso” (an allusion to speed), in fact the nomenclature has to do with the type of preparation (under pressure). But, according to Raposeiras, this type is like a “magnifying glass” that highlights all the defects of coffee. Good preparation depends, fundamentally, on the adjustment of the machine and on the expertise of the person who will operate it, the so-called barista.

Strainer coffee- It is the method most indicated by Raposeiras, as it allows the release of all the sensory properties of the drink.

Cloth strainer- It is not advisable, as there are always traces of the previous preparation and, consequently, oxidized coffee, compromising the flavor of the “new” coffee.

Capsules – They have quality for two basic reasons; the quality of the coffee itself and the standardization of its preparation: the machine does not allow oscillations, it always results in a drink with the same characteristics.

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