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A Beginner's Guide To Buying Great Coffee



The first 1000 people to use this link will get 30% off an annual Skillshare Premium Membership: https://skl.sh/jameshoffmann05211
Let me know if this is useful!

Learn more about tasting coffee: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLxz0FjZMVOl2N8lmwyuSNJ2IPDzn9crKX

Chapter timecodes:
0:00 Intro to the series & overview of structure
1:50 Golden rules for buying coffee
2:29 Freshness: roast dates & best before dates
3:38 Fresh coffee in espresso vs filter
4:17 Ground coffee vs whole bean
5:02 Whole bean freshness
5:21 Traceable Coffee
6:57 Seasonality of harvests
8:03 Where to buy coffee?
8:27 Supermarket/grocery store purchases: pros & cons
9:41 Coffee shop purchases
10:46 Purchasing online directly from roasters
12:01 Skillshare ad & discount, including my favourite classes
12:52 Decoding bags of coffee from the supermarket
13:17 Roast degree or ‘strength’
15:20 Guidelines on roast degree correlation with acidity and bitterness
15:41 Coffee descriptors
18:27 Category 1 of disliked coffee experiences: light-body & texture descriptors
19:31 Category 2: Acidity & fruit words
20:50 Category 3: Fermented fruit flavours & dry or natural process
22:15 Decoding supermarket bag descriptions
25:46 Closing of guide & questions from you

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  1. At 3:10 I made an error because I missed that the supermarket bag of Union also has a roasted on date. In my defence, when shooting the talking part of the video the cardboard bottom was covering that bit and I didn't realise it was there. I should have picked it up when we filmed the additional shots. The point about supermarkets highlighting how long a product has left, rather than how old it is, still stands but my mistake is unfair to Union Hand Roasted, who are lovely people, pioneers of relationship coffee buying, and great roaster so go check them out: https://unionroasted.com/

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  2. Thank you so much for not being a snob. Snobs really turned me off to the business. I love, appreciate, and care about good coffee, but I cannot abide the "I know what you want better than you do" attitudes that tend to go with it. You're a breath of fresh air.

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  3. Oh shucks… I can feel you pulling me into your coffee world… this could get expensive…

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  4. Enjoying a Yemeni coffee this morning whilst watching this, brewed on my v60, had a second as well because it was soo good!

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  5. So, if a coffee were to be listed as having mainly notes of durian and rambutan, I wonder what it would be like? Maybe a 9/10 on the funky ferment scale? haha.

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  6. I live in Western Canada and here, there are no dates on coffees in supermarkets; No roast dates and no best-before dates. I guess they figure they're in environment-controlled packaging, so what can go wrong? Well, a lot actually. I had to move away from my favourite coffee that I get from the organic section at Sobeys/Safeway because the last two bags I got were clearly a year or more out from roasting and by the end of the bag, it tasted like survivalist coffee.

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  7. I’ve always hesitated to buy coffee just because I never understood how to pick one. This guide is so useful on so many levels to avoid buying a bag of mistake! Thank you Mr Hoffman!!

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  8. James Hoffman looks like a coffee.

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  9. Can we mix medium and light roast coffee together ?

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  10. First of all I'd like to say that I really enjoyed this video and will probably watch it many times again in order to filter out all the information relevant to me. However maybe the information here is a bit too densely packed and much more could be said and explained if conveyed in a number of vids, each concentrating on separate aspects?

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  11. I missed out information on Robusta or Arabica, probably there is another video on that?

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  12. Why am I watching this? my family grows coffee

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  13. Watched this for the 5th time since May 2021 and learned something new again. He's really a brilliant speaker in that he conveys some much really useful information in such a brief period of time. I really enjoy his videos, even the silly ones (why would anyone try brewing 70 year old coffee beans?). I'd love to have him select coffee for me to try. Maybe a "James Hoffman Coffee-of-the-Month Club"?

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  14. Damn you James. I was a committed tea drinker all my life until I stumbled on your Moka pot series and am now addicted to the art and tasting of coffee. I can no longer drink instant coffee because it tastes disgusting compared to the real thing, I would rather go without.

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  15. Finally, someone told me what people actually mean when they say "this fruit flavour here, that fruit flavour there"! As someone who doesn't like stinging acidic aftertastes in coffee that much, it's very useful!

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  16. 10:03 bold of you to assume that "human interaction" is a positive

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  17. So one of the most expensive specialty coffees would list "pizza", "avocado", and "tuna"?

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  18. The good news is that I prefer shitty diner coffee to specialty coffee. Specialty coffee is almost always fruity and not good. Shitty coffee is almost always nutty and bitter. I prefer coffee with lots of cream, so the nuttiness and bitterness with cream go great together. That fruity crap ends up just tasting like sour milk.

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  19. Is there a video on how to store your coffee after opening?

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  20. my tip is just go to a specialty coffee store and just start a conversation. they are usually really helpful and knowledgeable try things out that is the only way to find out what you like

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  21. I do love learning about coffee but even if I detested the stuff one thing would still be true, James is the star of this show more than the coffee. Thank you Sir.

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  22. After watching this video I bought a bag of coffee beans roasted last week, with no fruit notes, and I can't believe how good it is. Most coffee drinkers are being robbed of much better experience. Support your local coffee roasters. It's worth it.

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  23. I think you forgot 2 things :
    How much do you buy each time? 250g, 500g or 1kg?
    And should you buy Robusta?

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  24. One coffee flavor I would like less of I could only describe as cigar or tobacco-like in the way those smells invade your nose and announce their presence. How to get less of this?

    One coffee texture I like is that of dark chocolate – a sort of back-middle of the tongue sensation. How to get more of this?

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  25. Buying directly from coffee roasters will always be my favorite way to do it. Ever had coffee that was just roasted minutes ago? Amazing

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  26. You missed talking about caffeine.

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  27. For us here in US, it’s the “organic,” “triple certified,” qai certification, bird friendly, slug tolerant, anti gravity roasted and sealed with iridium bla bla bla on the label that is tough to navigate..I want to buy great coffee where the farmers and processors aren’t ripped off, primarily the farmers, or growers if they prefer that..

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  28. This man is a treasuer of YouTube. "I'm a snob about coffee but not going to judge you on what you drink, I just want to help you find someting you like. I also have a coffee company and could push my products down your throat, but I'm not going to because I acknowledge that other companies also make good products." Good on ya James!!

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  29. I think my ideal coffee would use industrial words, and be appropriate for road repair or painting civil infrastructure in harsh environments. It should have a colour in the goth spectrum.

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  30. Why is decaffeinated coffee getting so hard to find? It was difficult before. You wouldn't believe how much time I spent in the coffee aisle at the supermarket last week. Btw, I keep my coffee in the freezer and it stays fresher and tastes better. I have acid reflux and can't drink the regular stuff. As well, there's a reaction with my medication. Ty

    P.S.
    If you ask at a cafe or supermarket, they will tell you that decaf doesn't sell. They care about the money, not the person.

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  31. @james Hoffmann in Germany you have to pay a fixed coffee tax: 2,19€/K. So you can get the UK 10€/K coffee for 12,19€/K in Germany. Or in other words imagine what quality you get for a 8€ supermarket coffee…

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  32. Internet: Nobody will watch half Hour of a video about coffee.

    James Hoffmann: Hold My espresso.

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  33. I've just bought a bean to cup machine and came here to find what beans I should get. I'm more puzzled now than ever. 😆

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  34. Can you please clarify what language is used to describe bitter tasting coffee?? Thanks so much 💓

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  35. Most of the world's coffee are made from Arabica ir Robust s coffee beans. A very small 1% is said to be made from Liberica coffee bean and these are found mainly in Southern part of Peninsula Malaysia. This blend id made popular abd famous by the Chinese migrants from Hainan Island in the 1900s and served in coffee shops throughout Malaysia and Singapore, ran by them, hence, the term Hainan Coffee. Today you can find coffee franchise of the same name to symbolise the fame and specialty of Hainan coffee. I hope you had tried or have the chance to try such coffee. They are roasted in margarine/butter and sugar. Taste is usually medium to strong and dark roasted. It has such an aroma that strikes and bowl you over on the first sip. The coffee is filtered over a fabric net with a handle placed inside a tall ( 12-15inches) and large steel pot. Cups and saucers are soaked in hot water always until the seconds the cups are filled with the fresh coffee. Sadly these coffee shops can only be found in small town and villages but never in the cities as the aging proprietors retired with nobody to take over. Yes there are efforts to pack these in sachets for modern marketing and usage but they are never the same as those served in traditional coffee shops. If you visit Malaysia I xan take you there. Coffee is never the same as what you ever had. Lastly, coffee served wirh palm sugar mafe from the juices of flowering stalks of coconut enhances tge flavour. In Indonesia they are called Java sugar and Melaka suggar in Malaysia and Singapore. Hope you like my sharing.

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  36. I am having trouble finding my perfect description. I love dark roasted, no acidity, smokey,nutty and bitter coffee that is both good for espresso and an Americano. I like lots of crema and oily coating. Any advice?

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  37. Great video, great explanations. Makes me want to go out and buy some coffee! I had a great experience in Burundi talking with a lady that has organized the women into grower co-ops. Very 'single origin' oriented. To see the work that goes into the growing, collection and shipping and distribution was enlightening. There, much of the coffee is grown by the women as a side cash crop for their families. She was Burundian and coming back with the cash bonuses to give to the women of each village.

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  38. The zombie barely emerges from bed at the sound of the alarm.
    Drags itself into the kitchen where it barely manages to take coffee stored in an airtight latched lid glass jar out of the refrigerator and put 2 scoops into the reusable K cup.

    Then goes back to bed until the smell let's it know the coffee is ready and it's time to get up.

    Now that I've had my coffee.
    A few questions.

    I'm a brand new coffee drinker.

    It has become essential to my new early rising hours.

    I love my coffee. But I'm looking to improve my morning experience.

    However as described in the zombie story, I am useless before I have my coffee.

    There will be no grinding or thinking or anything for that matter.

    I currently drink Starbucks espresso beans. (The darkest one they have) I have them grind them in the shop then take them home and put them in a air tight sealable glass latchtop jar.

    I keep them in fridge not because of the temperature but because it's the dryest place in the south east Asian country in which I live. Humidity kills any food I leave out of the fridge.

    I only have one cup a day which I actually look forward to before going to sleep.

    I drink it with a tiny bit too much powdered coffeemate French vanilla and no need for more sugar.

    Do you have any suggestions that will improve my morning coffee without putting dangerous tools in the hands of the zombie?

    What other coffees should I try? I hate almost all the k cup brand flavors and found the Starbucks to be the best.

    But the hipster in me is screaming that there must be something better.

    Thanks for any advice.

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  39. Those of you in the comments, Lardera, a coffee focused branch of Adagio (a tea ordering website) is Very Very clear about where your beans come from and tells you the exact flavor profile you’re buying

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  40. Watching James always makes me want to enjoy and appreciate coffee more. I’ve always been a milk and sugar guy, so my experience has always been what I think of as a “low-res” approach. Not a ton of detail, sort of “I know what I like”. That also means I’ve never been able to tolerate black, unsweetened coffee, so I have never really gotten those notes to a great degree. I guess that’s why I gravitated to darker roasts? Who knows? Maybe I’ll try to seek out some coffee tastings experiences to explore. But there was one offering on the board at a certain Seattle-based shop that I DID NOT LIKE. I gave it two chances and said to Chris (my barista), “I cannot drink that. What do you recommend for me until you cycle in something else?” So now I’m curious what the notes were that just repulsed me? 😂

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  41. It's incredible how closely this video lines up with a guide for buying craft beer

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  42. I'm a bit confused about the difference between "bodied" and "roast".

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  43. I discovered a little coffee shop called Patricia's in Melbourne's CBD while visiting for a week. Haven't bought coffee from anywhere else since. 1kg bag is $65 so it's not cheap but i haven't found a nicer coffee yet👍

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  44. Fewer mistakes?

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  45. One of best supermarket coffees Morrison own brand organic

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  46. I usually drink pre ground coffee but I've got some unopened really high quality coffee beans from went I travelled to Morocco… That was around 6 years ago…. ummm well… let's hope they're not too sour or bitter… or horrible…

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  47. Thank you for adding chapters to the video. It's very useful when, for example, one is returning to the video to refresh the knowledge. And also as a brief summary. I appreciate all the effort you put to your videos.

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  48. Weird, I've never seen strength numbers on grocery store coffee before. Here in the US at least. Maybe it's a UK/Europe thing.

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  49. James says, some people to through more than one bag a month ! 😉

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  50. looking for advice: more than once I've treated myself to buying fancy, more expensive coffee beans and the coffee tasted a lot of tomato. What keyword/ type of coffee do I have to avoid so that I don't get tomato coffee anymore? thank you:)

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