The coffee bean grows on small trees which produce unripe and ripe fruit at the same time, and thus they must be harvested by hand. While there are hundreds of coffee species, the most available commercially are robusta and arabica. The former grows at lower elevations, is cheaper to harvest and has less flavor; the latter is exactly the opposite in every dimension. The beans are picked green and then roasted for different lengths of time to create an American, French, Italian, European or Vienese roast. Instant coffee is actually dried brewed coffee, and freeze-dried coffee is frozen brewed coffee, then dried.

Season: available year-round

How to select: Coffee, whether ground or whole bean, loses flavor rapidly. To get the best flavor, buy whole beans and ground just before brewing.

How to store: The enemies of coffee are oxygen, light, heat, and moisture. Store whole beans in an airtight, opaque container in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks. Storing coffee in the refrigerator or freezer for daily use can damage the coffee as warm, moist air condenses to the beans whenever the container is opened. You may freeze coffee for up to 3 months, but you should bring the coffee to room temperature before brewing.

How to prepare: For the most flavorful cup of coffee, use two tablespoons of ground coffee (10 grams) for each six fluid ounces (180 milliliters) of water. Different brewing methods have different grind requirements, so grind your coffee for the brewing method you use -- the shorter the brewing process, the finer the grind. Use fresh, cold water heated to just off the boil A cup of coffee is 98 percent water. Therefore, the water you use to make coffee should taste clean, fresh, and free of impurities.

Matches well with: chocolate, cinnamon, cream, hazelnut, lemon, nutmeg, vanilla

Popular Coffee Recipes