Buy Coffee Online

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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The real loss in buying coffee online rather than at a local specialty shop, or even a grocery store aisle equipped with a grinder, is that you miss the wonderful aroma of coffee beans. That aside, however, your variety of choice is of course broadened dramatically. What's more, there's the convenience of home delivery--whether you buy only occasionally or on a regular basis.

Describing Coffee

The most important thing about online culinary shopping is to know your taste buds and the generally accepted terminology for describing coffees. Taste characteristics fall into one of three categories--body, acidity, and balance. If you're a wine drinker with a moderately informed palate, you've got a good head start in this regard. Set up a mental ranking of one through five in each of the characteristics.

When it comes to body, think in terms of Pinot Grigio light and upwards through Chardonnay light, Pinot Noir average, Merlot getting heavy, and Bordeaux or Cabernet heavy. In describing a coffee's acidity, the range will begin with soft or mellow, and work up through tangy, bold or piquant, and top out at assertive or sharp. The balance of taste can also be thought of as flavor harmony. Typical descriptors on this characteristic start with delicate or lean, and move up through subtle, complex, and great depth, to complete.

To put all this in a little perspective, let's look at a few coffees you'll see offered by most vendors. Using them as a baseline, you can get a sense of an unknown coffee's character. Sumatra is described as heavy in body, low in acidity, and slightly earthy in flavor. A Kenyan might be called fragrant, full bodied, sharp, and strong. The very popular Columbian, as you might expect, is considered heavy bodied, fruity (in the middle on the acidity scale), and very well rounded.

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