It is an inevitable question at cafes and coffee houses that sell retail: “what coffee should I buy”. So this week let us explore origin recommendations.

The topic dovetails with last week’s discussion of seasonality quite well. The consistent changes in the Cut line-up means a deluge of options. It can be tricky to find the right coffee for the right person. A challenge compounded by the tradition of marketing a coffee by its roast level rather than its origin. However generally, you can summarize the Cut Coffee filter program into three distinct channels.

In the first group, we have Central and South American coffees, most frequently appearing on our menu as Colombian, Guatemalan, Peruvian, and Honduran offerings. The cup is characteristically loaded with chocolatey and nutty flavour notes. The fruit would often be comparatively slight and quite jammy. Some would call it a ‘traditional’ profile; others would say ‘restaurant-friendly’ or ‘parent-approved’.

In the second group, we have East African coffees from Ethiopia, Kenya, and Rwanda. They are very fruit forward with more of the delicate flavours of stone fruit and berries. When developed, the sugar correlates to caramelized flavours present in toffee or nougat. Modern coffee and lighter roasts continue to be hugely beneficial in highlighting the beauty and complexity of East African crops. This group would fall under the ‘hipster coffee’ compliment/slight.

In the third, we have the wild and wonderful. Season-to-season and crop-to-crop, there is always amazing new farms and cooperatives emerging. So along with the more stalwart and taste-focused first two groups, we leave room on our offer menu for coffee with find interesting. The current Burundi is a good example. It is sweet and sticky but also has a unique vanilla pop and an undercurrent of plum acidity. Truly unique.

In the café, I would simply ask, “what kind of coffee do you enjoy”. The chocolate/nutty versus fruit/caramel versus can then be a good guide. If they seem adventurous, suggest the seasonal wild card. You will likely encounter ‘strong’ or ‘bold’ frequently, which can be tough because they are tied to brewing or superheroes. Pushing espresso on this front works as it often fulfills what most people enjoy in dark roasts: low acidity and high extractions.

(Image from David Byrne’s True Stories [1986])