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Coffee Bag Labels

August 25, 2015

coffee bag

Coffee bags can be an intimidating bowl of word salad to the less die-hard coffee drinker. Let's dissect the 7 items on the label of this flight coffee bag:

  1. At the top we have the coffee's name "Guatemala TG Lab HueHue Santiago". The name gives us three distinct pieces of information. The country of origin (Guatemala), the producer (TG Labs), and the part of the country the coffee is from (HueHue Santiago, or to be more specific, the Santiago municipality of HueHuetenango.)

  2. Below that are tasting notes which the roaster found in the coffee during cupping. These flavor notes are not always reproducible at home, in fact you may come up with some of your own tasting notes!

  3. Next we have the specific growing region of the coffee. Type this into google maps and you can usually get a good idea of exactly where the coffee in your bag started its life.

  4. Varietal (or Variety) is the type of coffee that is in the bag. Much the same way that different wine grapes make different wines (eg. Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay) different coffee varietals have distinct taste and aromatics.

  5. Altitude is literally the altitude where the coffee was grown. Coffees grown higher up will have a more vibrant acidity, which is considered a desirable quality. Lower grown coffees will be more base-notey (nuts, chocolate, earthy) which are also appealing in their own way.

  6. The processing is how coffee goes from being a seed inside a raw coffee cherry to being green (unroasted) coffee. It can be broken very broadly into 2 categories, washed and natural. Washed means All the fruit is washed from the seed before drying. Natural is dried inside the cherry. The former will be cleaner and display more characteristics of the origin, while the natural will be boldly fruity, but at the expense of origin characteristics (this is sometimes seen as undesirable, but naturals can be incredibly delicious.)

  7. Finally, the roast date is incredibly important. You want to ideally consume coffee within a month of purchase, and no sooner than a day after roasting. This is because after roasting, coffee beans expel gases (CO2) and aromatics continuously, this is why there is a valve on the coffee bag. After a month, almost all of these gases have been expelled and with them much of the flavor and aromatics as well, leaving stale coffee.