Coffee Basics 101: Answering the Most Common Questions

The Coffee Basics

General Warfield holding specialty grade coffee beans full of antioxidants

Coffee has captivated billions globally for centuries, evolving into a rich tapestry of aromas and flavors. Today, the array of beans, blends, roasting methods, and specialty-grade coffee might seem daunting for newcomers. Fear not—our comprehensive Coffee 101 guide is here to simplify your journey into the world of coffee.

In this blog, we’ll tackle some of the most pressing questions from the coffee community, helping you navigate the nuances of beans, roasting, artisan roasters, and coffee grading. Ready to discover your perfect cup? Let’s dive into the essentials and turn every sip into a reason to smile.

What's the Difference Between a Blend and Single-Origin Coffee?

Depiction of a blend vs single-origin coffee beans, with diverse mixed beans in a 'Blend' bag and uniform beans in a 'Single-Origin' bag, highlighting differences in texture and color.

Single-origin and blend coffee are the two main categories you'll find when shopping for specialty coffee.

  • Single-origin beans are harvested from a single location and sometimes even the same crop. For this reason, single-origin roasts typically have a pronounced and exotic flavor profile that is unique to the soil, climate, and season of their geographical location. While these beans offer a more unique flavor experience, it can be challenging to try and find a favorite as no two batches are alike!
  • Blends, on the other hand, combine a variety of beans from different locations to create more balanced flavors. Blends are the most common selection among coffee drinkers. They offer consistent flavors and a more approachable taste.

Which is more desirable is up for debate since both offer their own unique benefits. If you are looking to experience the bold flavors of a specific culture or region, a single-origin roast is a fantastic choice. If you're in search of a consistent morning brew with a well-rounded taste you can count on, opt for a flavorful blended roast.

What is Small Batch Coffee Roasting?


Depiction of small batch coffee roasting in an artisan cafe, featuring detailed steam and smoke from beans transitioning from green to brown, set against a cozy background with wooden shelves and warm lighting.
  • Small batch roasting offers the benefits of precision, quality control, and unbeatable freshness. This is achieved by roasting beans on a small scale. The roaster can hand select each bean, discarding any that do not meet the highest quality standards while taking extra care in roasting them to perfection.

According to the National Coffee Association (NCA), beans begin to lose their freshness about two weeks after roasting. For companies that roast on a large scale, there's a good chance the beans you've purchased are past the 2-week mark before you've even made your first cup. Small-batch roasts are often roasted to order or right before the day of your purchase, guaranteeing peak freshness. These small batches allow for incredible quality control as they're fine-tuned to achieve the best tasting cup of coffee.

What is Artisan Roasted Coffee?

Representation of our artisan roasters at FDA Approved General Warfield’s Coffee roasting facility
  • Artisan coffee is crafted by expert roasters who've committed to quality and investing in premium beans. These beans come from growers who practice sustainable farming while ensuring the highest level of quality control throughout every step of the crop growing process. Growers of this caliber are committed to creating premium coffee drinking experiences while being mindful of their influence on the surrounding environment.

What is Specialty-grade Coffee?

Person holding high-altitude, high-quality specialty grade Arabica coffee bean on a sustainable farm

Specialty-grade coffee represents the pinnacle of coffee quality, distinguished by its exceptional flavor and unique characteristics. This premium category of coffee must meet rigorous standards set by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), which evaluates beans based on their origin, flavor complexity, and absence of defects.

For a coffee to be considered specialty-grade, it must score 80 points or above on a 100-point scale during professional cupping sessions. These coffees are typically sourced from specific microclimates that enhance their distinctive flavors, with each bean carefully harvested to ensure peak ripeness and optimal quality.

Choosing specialty-grade coffee means enjoying a cup that not only tastes extraordinary but also reflects the meticulous care and sustainable practices of dedicated farmers. It's an excellent choice for those looking to explore the depths of coffee's potential flavors, from floral and fruity to rich and earthy notes.

Whether you're a budding coffee enthusiast or a seasoned sipper, diving into the world of specialty-grade coffee can transform your daily routine into an exciting sensory adventure. View the coffee grading pyramid below to see how specialty-grade coffee ranks compared to all other graded coffees:

Coffee grading pyramid showing specialty-grade, premium, commodity, and exchange grade coffees

Figure 1: Coffee grading pyramid showing that specialty-grade coffee makes up the top 5 percent of all coffees by score.


Colombian whole bean pouches with mountainous background and golden sunset

In summary, artisan and specialty-grade coffees, like those roasted in small batches at General Warfield's Coffee, represent the zenith of coffee craftsmanship. These coffees are not only fresh but also embody the highest standards of quality, from the meticulous selection and roasting processes to their distinct flavor profiles shaped by unique microclimates. By choosing these premium beans, you are not just enjoying a superior cup of coffee; you are also supporting sustainable practices and the dedicated efforts of growers committed to excellence. Embrace the journey through the rich, diverse flavors that specialty-grade coffee offers, and elevate your coffee experience to its peak potential.

At General Warfield's Coffee, we proudly carry artisan roasts that are sure to delight every time. Ready to embark on a small batch, artisan roasted sensory journey of specialty-grade coffee indulgence?

Discover the Richness of General Warfield’s Specialty-grade Coffee

Colombian whole bean pouches and hot cup of coffee with steam forming shape of heart

Dive into the world of exquisite flavors with General Warfield’s Coffee. Explore our range of sustainable, ethically sourced specialty-grade coffees today and taste the difference that care and quality can make.

Click image above or link below to start your journey. 

Browse our selection today!

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