Coffee is a serious business, and if you want to start taking your barista skills to the next level, consider sourcing your green beans for roasting. Roasting your beans is a great way to experiment with how it affects the taste of the beans.
But sourcing the perfect beans is easier said than done. How to select a good quality batch that produces coffees you love? And where to buy green beans?
As a home roaster, you can’t simply go to the source and buy green coffee beans. But it is possible, as several different online sellers offer green beans to individuals and businesses interested in roasting their own.
What is Green Coffee?
Green coffee is coffee that is processed from coffee cherries that farmers pick off of coffee plants. They have a yellowish or whitish color and are raw coffee beans in their purest form.
Unroasted coffee beans can keep for up to a year or even longer, depending on how well they’re stored. They ship out to roasters who roast the coffee to perfection and then send it on to the consumer. If you love coffee, you may want to consider getting your roaster to cut out the intermediary and create a medium roast, a dark roast, or your special roast of coffee.
Different types and harvests have their flavor profile, so there’s always something new to experiment with on the market.
What to look for when buying green coffee beans
There are a lot of details that go into when you select green coffee beans. Here is what you need to know.
Find out where the coffee is grown and at what altitudes. Different regions have different flavor profiles and strengths. Most commercial green coffee beans are grouped by region, not farm.
Here are the most common coffee-producing regions:
East Africa: These high-quality coffees from Ethiopia and Kenya are strong, heavy-bodied, aromatic, and flavorful. Kenyan coffees are sweeter and have higher acidity, while Ethiopian coffees have a fuller-body and fruity acidity. Both coffees are grown at altitudes higher than 6,000 feet. They have pleasant citrus notes when roasted light.
Central America: Most popular coffees come from Costa Rica and Guatemala. Costa Rican coffees are bright, full-bodied, and grown at altitudes of 3,300 to 3,900 feet. Guatemalan coffees are grown at altitudes of between 4,600 and 5,600 feet and have a smooth body, fine acidity, and rich aroma.
Papua New Guinea: If you want sweet, floral, and full-bodied coffee, you should try these. They are grown at an altitude of 5,300 feet and give a fruity aroma and moderate acidity.
South America: You can choose Colombian coffee for its mild strength and balanced acidity. It’s grown at altitudes of up to 6,600 feet. Brazilian coffee is grown at 2,000 to 4,00 feet and is medium-bodied and sweet with low acidity. The Dominican Republic produces rich, full-bodied but slightly-acidic coffee grown at 2,000 to 5,000 feet. Finally, Puerto Rican coffee is balanced, subtle, and grown at 2,400 to 2,800 feet.
Indonesia: They produce Sumatran and Sulawesi coffee. Sumatran coffee beans are grown at altitudes of 2,500 to 6,000 feet and are full-bodied and smooth with earthy and spicy tones. Sulawesi coffee beans are lighter and buttery and have higher acidity. They’re grown at altitudes between 3,600 and 6,000 feet.
Hawaii: Hawaiian coffees are medium-bodied, rich, and quite acidic. Kona coffee is one of the best coffees in the world, which is grown at altitudes of 800 to 2,500 feet.
Many other coffee regions are waiting for you to explore, you can find the top coffee beans online.
When buying green coffee beans, look for those with similar sizes, shapes, and colors. Consistency in size shows proper sorting and allows for a more cohesive roasting process.
Knowing how green coffee beans have been processed when purchasing is good. There are two popular coffee beans processing methods used, depending on the environment of the coffee-producing region:
Dry or Natural Process: This takes a long time. The beans are exposed to long periods of sunshine to produce sweet, smooth, and complex coffees. This method produces heavy-bodied coffee.
Wet or Washed Process: The beans are washed in water for cleaner, fruitier, more acidic, and brighter coffees.
On the label of green coffee packaging, there is information on the drying conditions. They should be dried to about 12% moisture content. Anything more will affect the flavor and quality of the roast.
Appearance & Texture
Check that the beans are not faded or white around the edges. Improper storage or drying conditions can cause that. Also, check that they are not pliable and mushy, which would indicate they have not dried properly. On the other hand, if the beans are fragile, they may have been dried for too long or too high a temperature. If the beans have none of these qualities, they are highly likely to be perfect for roasting.
Check for the coffee certifications. You also want to look for certified sustainable and ethically sourced coffee, such as Fair Trade and or Rainforest Alliance certificates. Buying ethical and sustainable coffee goes a long way in helping the environment and the people who grow the coffee.
Best Place To Buy Green Coffee Beans
Amazon is one of the best places to buy green coffee beans. There are a lot of sellers with reasonable prices, like Stone Street’s Colombian Supremo coffee beans or Martini’s Green Bean Sampler Pack. It’s a great place to start your roasting journey.
Stone Street is known for its quality, while Martini is better about sourcing and fair trade for farmers. With the widest variety of sellers, you can choose your beans from the best fair trade and organic sources or simply aim for the best price on the best crop. It’s all up to you.
Both make good options, and there are tons of other sellers you can check out. Amazon has some of the biggest brands that produce coffee, too, so you can buy directly from the source. Additionally, shipping is quick, and it’s convenient to purchase from Amazon if you already have an account.
2. Sweet Maria’s
Every home roaster knows the name of Sweet Maria’s as it’s been the best hub for sourcing green coffee on the internet for years. They offer several different crops and varieties and have everything you need to start roasting coffee, from roasters to brewers.
They ship anywhere to the continental USA and have nearly any type of green coffee beans you can imagine, decaf, organic, fair trade, and with wide different varieties. Prices vary by the crop, between three and ten dollars, but chances are you’d pay more for artisan roasted coffee.
They source most of their beans at farm gate pricing, which is higher than the direct trade. They believe in direct trade with farming communities and pride themselves on providing great coffee at great prices.
You can also buy several pounds of coffee here, which is great for commercial buyers.
3. Fresh Roasted Coffee
Fresh Roasted Coffee believes in offering the highest possible standards with all its coffee varieties, including the green ones. All of their coffee is fair trade, organic, and sustainably sourced. If you believe coffee is good for the body and the soul, they have you covered.
Moreover, they have tons of variety from all over the world, single origin, samplers, decaf, and blends. However, they’re one of the pricier options on the web, with prices ranging from nine to twelve dollars for essential blends and single-origin coffees. Samplers can cost around thirty dollars, which is expensive for green coffee beans.
They offer to ship everywhere in the US, although the non-continental US will cost more. However, given all their certifications and money-back guarantees, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more ethical supplier of specialty green coffee beans online.
4. Coffee Bean Corral
Coffee Bean Corral is one of the largest suppliers of green coffee beans online. And they pride themselves on that. They have a vast selection of beans, from organic and ethically sourced to sub-specialty grades and old stock you can get for better prices.
They also have everything you’ll need to create your coffee, from coffee roasters to grinders to brewers, perfect for home roasters, but they also sell them in significant quantities for commercial roasters. With such a huge selection, there’s an equal number of different price points, but they also have some of the cheapest specialty green coffee beans online.
They ship all over the world, but only in limited quantities. They can send one to one and a half pounds of coffee internationally, but more coffee in the continental US.
5. Dean’s Beans
If you’re looking for coffee with a more individual touch, look no further than Dean’s Beans. Starting in 1993, the founder, Dean, wanted to prove you can use a for-profit business as a vehicle for positive change.
Carefully selected and fair-trade certified, this company cultivates relationships with communities and farmers. Instead of hopping from coop to coop to find the cheapest coffee, they buy coffee from the same coops year after year to guarantee quality.
They ship for a standard rate in the contiguous US but don’t ship internationally. Their green beans are relatively cheap compared to similar websites, with prices ranging between six and eight dollars.
To buy green coffee beans, you need to consider the quality and amount you need. If you’re just a home roaster, any of these websites should do you just fine, as they have plenty of bean types, with options for decaf, fair-trade, organic, and specialty beans.
However, if you’re buying commercially, you’ll need a large roaster and a keen eye to find the best beans for blends and other products. You’ll need a seller who can offer you large quantities of different selections for a great price, like Sweet Maria’s or Coffee Bean Corral.
But if you’re interested in roasting coffee, there’s no better place to start than sourcing beans from a reliable website that focuses on good quality batches like Dean’s Beans or Fresh Roasted Coffee.
Ultimately, it all comes down to what you need your coffee for, whether just for experimenting at home or selling to the public. Either way, you’ll soon be tasting some of the best fresh coffee you’ve ever made.