A Bean’s Life
- Coffee beans are actually the seeds of the coffee berry fruit. Shade-grown beans are eco-friendlier (because no fields are cleared to grow them), but they may have fewer antioxidants than sun-grown varieties.
- After the fruit has been harvested, farmers remove the seeds from the berries either by machine or hand, rinse or them and then dry them out. Occasionally, the beans are dried inside the berry –called dry processing– to produce an earthier flavor.
- Roasting brings out the beans’ natural oils, which give you brew its flavor. But the longer beans are roasted, the less caffeine they contain. Choose light roasts for more buzz (be prepared for a mild, possibly acidy taste) and dark roasts for fewer jitters (plus stronger flavor).
- While the dried beans are roasting, certain antioxidants such as cancer-fighting polyphenols break down as others are created. This means a medium roast can be the best choice: It contains the richest mix of antioxdants for the healthiest cup of coffee.
- Coffee is often labeled based on how it was grown. Fair Trade certification means farmers were paid a fair price and a portion of profits fund projects like school. A Rainforest Alliance seal indicates that beans came from farms full of native trees (rather than a cleared plantation).