Coffee Selection Guide: How to Choose the Right Coffee for You

The coffee world is a complex, global industry. Coffee is the most popular beverage in the world, with more than 400 billion cups consumed each year and more specifically more than 450 million cups of coffee are consumed in the United States every day. So it seems you don't have to travel far to get a cup in your hands. As a specialty coffee roaster, we take great pride in being able to provide you with specialty beans from around the world.


Coffee beans are actually a seed of a fruit and are composed of all the essential building blocks that are needed to create a new coffee tree. During the roasting process, we are manipulating these building blocks and creating new components through the application of heat, just like cooking food. Roasting coffee is an art and a science. Each coffee is treated differently when roasting based on the chemical composition and desired outcome of flavor profile. There are some expected flavors that can be achieved from roasting coffee to different “levels”, or degrees of roast, and below is a description of what can be expected from the different roast levels at Ferris.

As a general rule, the vast majority of our coffees at Ferris would be considered “light roasts” when compared to all the available coffee in the market today. This is intentional. We source extremely high-quality green coffee, therefore we want it to taste as much of what makes that coffee unique in the cup. These unique flavors come from the soil composition, growing elevation, coffee varietal, processing method, drying method, and other factors from the origin of where it is grown. When brewed, these coffees tend to have higher levels of acidity and exhibit flavors of fruits, flowers, sweet candies, specific chocolates and nuts, and other highly pointed flavors that make these coffees unique. A “light roast” reveals these flavors rather than hiding them through more application of heat and time in the roasting process. 


There are a number of differences between the two kinds of coffee, each with their own characteristics. Similar to wine, specific regions, weather, soil, and other variables effect the final product. Like roast, it comes to personal preference when choosing between the two. Single origins offer an opportunity to learn more about a specific region and strengthen your coffee drinking skills, while blends are an approachable tasting experience, still highlighting tasting notes. 

The term single origin is just as it sounds - it means that the beans come from one place only, usually from a certain region, country, or specific farm. Given that they are sourced from one place only, single origin coffees tend to be available exclusively at certain times of year, contingent on the growing season of the geographical location from which they were derived. You can further break it down to single origin micro lot coffees, which derive from a single field on a farm. Facts like this are reflected in the price of single origin coffees. Coffee producing countries each have their own distinct flavor profiles. Central and the South Americas are expected to be clean and sweet while Africa is complex and fruity. 

At Ferris Coffee, we are continuously striving to improve our coffee quality and purchasing practices. Traditionally, we’ve purchased many common coffees with the intention of keeping them available year-round. The primary reason for this practice was to inject stability into our catalog, however there was one significant drawback. Namely, the vast majority of coffees cannot remain at their best for an entire year which resulted in some loss in quality as we came to the last portion of large lots.

We’ve implemented a new purchasing strategy that will allow us to both ensure all of our coffees remain fresh and to bring in a wider variety of options for you to choose from. This is also a step toward our ultimate goal of purchasing on a 100% direct-trade model. This practice is targeted at our single origin options, our blends will remain available all year round. We hope this is a useful tool for you as you make your coffee purchasing decisions. We’re excited to be able to offer all of these great coffees at their peak and offer some delicious new choices as well.  

Read more about our Sustainability practices here!

Check out the video below to see how our VP of Coffee Operations explains the process of cupping.
Learn more about how we choose the specialty coffees we source and get a glimpse at what being a Q-grader is all about.