Many of the coffees on sale are blends of beans from different countries, but specialist shops stock pure coffees. It can be fun to try different coffees and it is easy to experiment and make our own blends. Choose coffee to suit the time of day: a light coffee for breakfast and a strong, dark roast for after dinner.
Fresh coffee beans are blue-green, gray-green, or occasionally yellow-brown, and have little flavor or aroma. The roasting process transforms them, not only in color, but also brings out their subtle odors and flavors. Roasts may be dark, medium or light; the best coffees are usually the most lightly roasted, to preserve their mild flavors. During roasting, the coffee beans are turned constantly, generally in a revolving drum. Commercial roasting machines operate at high temperatures and can roast beans very swiftly, but an experienced professional roaster is still needed to supervise the process.
Coffee is best ground just before it is used because grinding breaks open the cells of the bean, releasing the aromatic oils and gases. Once this happens aroma and flavor start to deteriorate. If you buy ground coffee, choose a vacuum pack, or buy in small amounts and keep in a cool place.
To make your own spiced coffee, grind a mixture of some or all of these spices and add it to medium roasted coffee as you grind it. Use 1 oz/25 g spces to 1 lb/500 g coffee. Additives like chicory root, once used to eke out coffee when it was in short supply or too costly, are rare today, but coffees now come ready-flavored with essences of vanilla or chocolate, hazelnut of brandy.