New to Coffee? Here are 5 Things I Learned as a Coffee Newbie

drinking freshly roasted specialty coffee

Like many young professionals, my coffee addiction started in my early twenties when free coffee was available in my corporate office. I could not tell the difference between high-quality coffee and bad coffee—I just needed the caffeine fix to make it through long days. 

I had the opportunity to visit Ashley Prentice’s, Gento’s founder and owner, third-generation coffee farm where she walked me through the ins and outs of the coffee world. As a master taster (coffee quality grader) , she taught me what coffee should actually taste like in its purest and most flavorful form. And I’ve never been able to drink free office coffee since.

Here are five things I learned about coffee as a coffee newbie: 

Coffee beans are seeds from cherries

  • Coffee beans are technically a seed in the middle of a cherry from a Coffea tree. The cherries are edible and taste sweet. Word of caution: do not eat the seeds. The raw seeds act as a natural laxative.
Coffee grown under shade tastes sweeter
  • Sun-grown cherries ripen much quicker, allowing coffee producers to harvest their coffee much earlier in the season. Gento’s coffee plants are grown on a hillside—with slow maturation. Shade-grown coffee matures slower, allowing more sugars to concentrate within each cherry.
High Altitude coffee tastes better
  • Altitude plays a key role in farming coffee. The higher the altitude, the richer and more complex the taste of the coffee. Higher altitude impacts temperature which leads to slower-growing coffee beans. The slow growth of the bean cultivates more sugars—leading to a seriously amazing cup of coffee.
Volcanic soil provides Guatemalan coffees with a unique flavor profile
  • Volcanic soil provides an array of minerals that can alter the flavor of the coffee beans. For example, high levels of potassium affect the cherries’ sugar content which in turn produces a more sweet and balanced profile. Guatemala’s 34 volcanoes create a nutrient-dense soil, perfect for coffee growth, that creates a complex and unique flavor. You can read Dr. Alexander Steele’s article to learn more about volcanic soil and coffee here.
Farmers frequently sell at a loss or don’t make a profit when selling their green beans
  • Coffee brokers sometimes pay very little for the raw green bean, and in turn, roast it and sell it for a much higher profit. In the end, local farmers are the ones who lose. Gento Coffee grows, harvests, roasts in small batches, and then ships the freshly roasted coffee to ensure that farmers are paid well above fair trade prices.

I’ll keep you posted on new insights I continue to learn with the Gento Coffee team.

Til next time, stay grounded.

Kelsey Wilking

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