Coffee Guide Guide to Coffee

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The history of coffee has been traced to Africa, where it spread east and west in a narrow tropical zone that belts the Equator between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. The climate, rainfall and soil in this zone is perfect for the cultivation of coffee, as witnessed by the fact that coffee is an important cash crop in many of the countries within the belt. Coffee is the number two U.S. import, preceded only by petroleum.

Brewing The Perfect Cup

Brewing the perfect cup of coffee begins with a few simple, yet important steps:

  1. We recommend coffee be "ground as needed," but since that's not always possible, at Trader Joe's we provide grinders. Choose the correct grind for your coffee maker.
  2. We recommend bottled or filtered water, especially if your tap water is chlorinated. Most coffee makers ask for cool water.
  3. Use two level tablespoons of ground coffee for every 7.5 ounces of water, or three ounces of ground coffee for every 64 ounces of water (approximately one pot).
  4. We recommend that you brew only an amount that will be consumed within 30 minutes. Coffee kept warm on a burner or hotplate continues to brew, and will produce a bitter taste after about 20 to 30 minutes. Coffee brewed directly into a thermos or transferred to a thermos will keep its flavor longer.

Trader Joe's Coffee and a World View

Trader Joe's Fair Trade Certified Coffees help contribute to a better way of life for farmers and their families. Fair Trade guarantees small-scale growers a fair price for their harvest, giving them access to better housing, healthcare and education. By choosing Fair Trade Coffees from Trader Joe's, you are supporting economic independence for coffee farming families.

One of Trader Joe's Fair Trade Coffees was selected from El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru and Sumatra. It is sold as our Organic Five Country Espresso Blend. It is given an Espresso Roast to develop a strong, creamy, well-balanced and rich flavor.

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Trader Joe's Most Popular Coffees

French Roast

Trader Joe's French Roast Coffee is our number one seller. Its popularity is due to the rich, ebony color, sweet-pungent taste, smoky aroma and medium body. This is the perfect coffee for early morning sipping and afternoon coffee breaks.

Bay Blend

Trader Joe's Bay Blend is our first ultra roast, a modern style of roasting that burns off the acid to bring forward a hint of sweetness and a heady, smoky aroma. It is roasted in the Bay Area coffee bar style. Pour this one after dinner to encourage lingering and conversation.

Joe Coffee

Joe's Coffee makes a great, everyday cup o' joe. The medium-roasted blend is balanced with light caramel notes and a smooth finish. Our suppliers grow the beans, roast the beans and package the beans, creating excellent economies of scale, so it also promises a really great price, every day.

Trader Joe's House Blend

Our House Blend Coffee is highly aromatic, with balanced flavors gained from blending earthy Sumatra beans with rich Colombian beans. This is an all around coffee with a Full City Roast.

Organic Coffee Blend

Spicy 100% certified organic Peruvian beans are tempered with mild 100% certified organic Mexican beans for a coffee blend with a complex aroma and taste. This medium bodied brew is for those looking for organic coffee with a really good flavor.

Colombian Supremo

Our Colombian coffee has rich aroma, a hint of smokiness and full body with a City Roast. Although Brazil produces more coffee, Colombian is the most popular coffee in the US.

Italian Roast

Our Italian roast coffee gives traditional espresso a little kick. We roast spicy Costa Rican beans, pungent New Guinea beans and full-bodied Colombian Excelso beans to a dark, rich Espresso Roast. This is the perfect after dinner coffee, especially after a meal with earthy, intense flavors.

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Unroasted coffee beans are composed of acid and protein. The two components together produce coffee flavor. Roasting the beans starts a chemical reaction that develops the flavors we experience in our favorite cup. Increments of roasting time are easy to prescribe, but seconds can mean the difference between perfection and ruin. Following is an explanation of the different roasts you will find at Trader Joe's.

American or Regular

This is a traditional American specialty coffee roast. It's a more developed roast than supermarket brands, but the bean color is still very light, similar to the color of cinnamon. The taste is slightly sweet and medium- bodied. It has nice acidity, with aroma and complexity.

Full City Roast

The Full City Roast is a shade darker than the American roast. This style of roasting not only reveals the coffee's true flavor, but the longer roasting imparts depth and dimension with the added hint of roasted flavor.

Viennese or Continental

Typically, this is a longer roast than a Full City Roast. The oils reach the surface and the beans gain a slight sheen. The flavor becomes a little spicy with a hint of chocolate, and the aroma becomes slightly sweeter than the Full City Roast.

Italian or Espresso

Coffee beans are roasted approximately 14 to 18 minutes to become espresso. During the roasting process, they begin to smoke and the oils reach the surface, making the beans very shiny. At this point the flavor of the roast becomes dominant.

French Roast

French Roast by definition are beans that have been roasted past the point where the oil reaches the surface to just beyond where it is roasted off. French Roast beans are quite dark and may have a slight oily sheen. The flavor of French Roast is strong, smooth and smoky.

Ultra Roast

Ultra roast is the latest style of roasting developed in the Northwest region of the USA and has quickly become very popular with American coffee drinkers. Coffee bars and purveyors in Northern California, Oregon and Washington first developed this style of roasting as competition encouraged them to explore roasting as a way to distinguish one purveyor from another. As competition became more and more intense, roasts became darker, with each roaster trying to reach the "ultimate roast." As the roast darkens, the flavor becomes chocolatey and sweet.

Decaffeinated Coffee and the Decaffeination Process

Caffeine can be a mild, central nervous system stimulant. Individuals who are particularly caffeine-sensitive, therefore, may prefer to consume decaffeinated coffee.

Decaffeination is the removal of caffeine from coffee beans. Caffeine is a natural component of coffee beans; therefore it is very difficult to completely remove. The United States set standards and regulations that define the maximum amounts of caffeine permitted in decaffeinated coffee. In the U.S. it is three percent.

At Trader Joe's we use three decaffeination methods: water, carbon dioxide, or ethyl acetate. All methods are categorized as natural because the elements employed occur naturally in food. In the carbon dioxide method, carbon dioxide (CO2) in a pressurized liquid form is circulated past the coffee beans to remove the caffeine. The caffeine adheres to the CO2, which is removed, taking the caffeine along with it. In the water method, water is run through coffee beans, creating an extract. The extract is passed through a charcoal filter or through activated carbon to remove the caffeine. After the caffeine is removed, the extract is added back to the coffee beans to add back the flavor. In the ethyl acetate method, the beans are first submitted to a condition of water and steam to elevate their moisture content and make them swell, which facilitates in the extraction. Using an extracting vessel, the beans are washed in ethyl acetate (CH3CO2C2H5), a natural solvent obtained from the fermentation of sugar cane. The beans are then cleaned with water, followed by steam (to reach the innermost part of the bean), before being dried to their original moisture levels.

Our beans are decaffeinated in the green state, and are then sent to the roaster. We work to roast our decaf beans as closely as possible to their caffeinated counterparts.

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Coffeemakers & Coffee grinders

Coffeemakers are a matter of taste, time and budget. Each has an optimum grind for the best cup. A full pot of coffee made with a filter drip takes about 4 to 5 minutes, while a percolator takes about 15 minutes. The rule of thumb is to grind the coffee for the amount of time it takes to make the pot. Therefore, filter drip needs a much finer grind than perk.

Here is a list of common, easy to find coffeemakers and the recommended grind:

French Press Coffeemakers

Coffee gourmets agree the French Press Coffeemaker provides the most pure coffee flavor. Originally know as the Meliors; the French Press is now also called a plunge filter or coffee press coffeemaker. This method steeps hot water and coffee for about 3 to 5 minutes and then presses the grounds to the bottom of the pot with a plunger. The result is a pot of aromatic coffee with no paper filter residue. Use a coarse grind for press coffeemakers.

Automatic Drip Coffeemakers

Automatic drip coffeemakers have been around for about thirty years and are the most popular coffeemakers since the introduction of the percolator in the late 1800s. Made famous by a gent who changed his name to “Coffee,” auto drip coffeemakers are available with flat-bottomed filter baskets or with a cone shaped filter introduced by a close competitor. Both styles of auto drip coffeemakers require a medium grind.

Hand Drip Coffeemakers

Cone coffeemakers, such as the one made popular by Melitta are very common, too. Cone shaped filters are available in brown or white paper and gold or plastic mesh. This method works with thermoses and air pots or simply placed over a carafe or cup. The coffee is placed in the filter and boiling water is poured through. This type of maker works best with a medium-fine grind.

Stovetop Espresso Pots

Espresso pots are fun. The traditional ones found in most Italian homes are available in many sizes, each for a recommended number of cups. It is very common to see 5 or 6 pots lined up on a shelf in an Italian kitchen, starting with the very small for one cup to the very large for 12 cups. Making stovetop espresso is easy and cost effective. Most commercial grinders have an espresso setting; for most small home grinders use medium fine.

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