The first step in adding coffee to your beauty regimen is to understand what it is… wait, doesn’t every one know what coffee is?! Well, no. I’m a bit of a coffee addict. I have three fancy coffee brewing machines, and I brew my coffee. And in the world of coffee… I would be classified as not knowing enough. Let’s just say if you like to drink instant coffee, or mainstream brands like Starbucks, you probably haven’t delved deep enough into the world of coffee and all that it offers.
I’m not going to go into complex and boring details that you don’t really need to know. I’ll just brush the basics that will help you in our upcoming lessons.
Coffee tastes different based upon where it is grown. Coffee grown in Africa will taste very different to coffee grown in Guatemala. This has a lot to do with the soil and the various nutrients that the coffee plant finds in that soil. Popular growing locations are high up on mountains and on the sides of volcanos.
Not all coffee tastes the same. For the purpose of this article there are three major factors that will affect the taste: the plant variety, the roast level (roast level discussed next) and the brewing method. Coffee can be described from earthy and bold to fruit or herbal, and everywhere in between. Whittard has a great infographic about the flavours that you can get from different locations:
When roasting your coffee you listen for a pop sound – a bit like a popcorn piece popping. This noise is known as the crack. It happens twice – first and second crack respectively. You can also know the level of your roast by the color of the coffee beans.
A unroasted coffee bean starts off as a green color. The more you roast it, the more the colors will change: from green to yellow to browns.
This picture from Sweet Maria shows the colors vary during the different roasting stages:
First crack occurs around number 7 and second crack will occur at number 12. The majority of coffee roasts will be between first and second cracks.
Lighter roasts will tend to produce a much harder coffee bean to grind. Lighter coffee roasts tend to be sweeter than their dark roast counterparts. These beans tend to be described as having berry undertones. A fresh roasted coffee at the right roast level can definitely produce very significant berry flavours: a very famous roast by the brand Elbgold using an Ethiopian Yirgachafee blend has produced a “berry” flavour so strong it’s as if someone added fresh orange juice into the mug by mistake (this is honestly my first opinion when trying this blend – for many it’s either a love or hate relationship).
A darker roast is much more brittle bean since the structure has been compromised through cooking and the moisture removed. These beans tend to have a much more muted flavour and smell, often described as “earthy” or with a chocolate undertones.
For many of my coffee-beauty products, I have found that a darker roast tends to work the best. If you do to a coffee shop and ask for a roast then ask for around a Full City or Full City Plus roast.
Don’t go past a Vienna or Light French roast as the beans will be charred and lose the nutritious value.
For most beauty purposes, generally any home brewing method is fine. Store bought cups (such as from your local Starbucks) will be expensive and might not give you the necessary parts (such as the discarded grinds).
Brew method can be reflective of the level of roast that you used. There are endless ways of brewing your coffee. If you don’t drink coffee much, then perhaps investing in the very cheap Aeropress – it produces a well-rounded coffee that tastes great. As an added bonus; it’s quite portable!