How to Purchase Green Coffee Beans

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Costa Rican coffee field
Costa Rican coffee field (Image: Costa Rica Coffee Field image by oddzen89 from Fotolia.com)

Green coffee beans come from inside the berry of the coffee plant. They are not yet roasted. When you select and roast your own coffee beans, you will not only find yourself progressing down the road toward the perfect cup of coffee, but you will enjoy the journey.

Find your favorite variety

Coffee is grown in North, Central and South America, Africa, Indonesia, the Arabian Peninsula and Vietnam, and each of these regions have their own particular varieties that differ in richness, body and acidity. When you find a local or online supplier, buy sample packs of green beans from various regions in order to establish favorites.

Quality

Green coffee beans should be of nearly equal size, shape and color. Beans of a different size will roast unevenly. If they are a different shape, it may indicate that varieties have been mixed, and uneven coloring (a whitish, or faded color around the edges) may be the result of drying problems that will affect the taste. This should not be confused with the silver skin attached to the green bean.

Where to Buy

Check local markets and coffee shops to see if they sell green coffee beans. But be aware that freshness is an important issue, especially when you buy off-the-shelf in a local store, where beans may have been sitting for several months or even years. You will probably find more variety and freshness online, where merchants often offer sampler packs so you can familiarize yourself with different varieties.

Cost: The Fair Trade Issue

Fair trade coffee is more expensive because the importer must pay a minimum price to the coffee farmer. In order to meet the stringent criteria for becoming Fair Trade Certified, importers must also provide technical assistance to help farmers make their farms more sustainable, such as helping them transition to organic farming. You decide if it’s worth paying a little extra for your beans.

Storing Green Coffee

After you purchase your green coffee beans, keep them in a cool, dry place in a breathable container, such as cotton, burlap or rice paper. Keep them away from sunlight and excessive humidity. Freezers dry out raw coffee, and refrigerators can infuse the beans with traces of flavor from foods. If kept properly, raw green coffee beans can keep their flavor for up to a year.

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