Is Specialty Shop Coffee Better?

Is coffee purchased from a specialty coffee shop better than "grocery store" coffee? Generally the coffee beans used for commercial vacuum-packed (and instant) coffees are made from the lower-grade robusta beans. Arabica beans, which account for only about eight percent of this country's coffee consumption, have a richer flavor. They are sold primarily in coffee shops, and cost an average of $3 to $7 a pound more than coffee made from robusta beans.

Freshness is also an important issue when deciding where to buy your coffee--coffee beans are a perishable item. There is a higher turnover at many specialty shops, so you may have a more freshly roasted bean. Don't hesitate to ask if they know when the beans were roasted. Coffee beans begin to deteriorate if not used soon after roasting, or if they are stored improperly.

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