Your Complete Guide to Common Coffee FAQs

Got coffee-related questions brewing? Here are our answers to the most common questions we receive from our readers.

Coffee Beans 101

a person scooping coffee beans with her hands
A great cup of coffee starts from its beans. Photo from Milo Miloezger.

What are Arabica beans?

Arabica beans are one of three main types of coffee beans that are processed for drinking. The other two main types are called Robusta and Liberica beans. Arabica beans tend to have a smoother, sweeter taste with flavour notes of chocolate and sugar.

Coffee made from Arabica beans are light to medium-bodied and have hints of fruits and berries. However, Arabica beans are also more expensive to produce compared to other beans.

Which regions do coffee beans come from?

Coffee plants are typically cultivated within the “Bean Belt”, which is the area between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.

The Bean Belt is spread across various global regions, which means your coffee could be coming from Asia, Africa, Central America or South America. Your coffee bean’s flavour is affected by the soil, climate and altitude where it was grown.

Should I get whole beans or pre-ground coffee beans?

With whole beans, you can get better tasting coffee when you grind the beans just before brewing your cup of java. During the grinding process, coffee beans lose some of the natural chemical components that provide richness and flavour. This is why pre-ground coffee is believed to taste less fresh than when you grind the coffee beans yourself.

That said, pre-ground coffee beans are more convenient because they’re quicker to use and don’t require specialty equipment. So if they suit your lifestyle better, go for it!

Plus, if you order pre-ground coffee beans from good roasters, they usually roast and grind them fresh just before packing and shipping to you.

Subscribe to fresh coffee bean deliveries from our De’Longhi partner roasters.

How should I store my coffee beans?

a container filled with coffee beans
Store your beans in a vacuum-sealed or airtight container and place it in a cool and dry space. Featuring the Vacuum Coffee Canister. Photo from De’Longhi.

The key to retaining the freshness of your coffee beans for their entire shelf life is to store them in a vacuum-sealed container.

The greatest enemies of coffee beans are air, moisture, heat, and light. That is why an opaque airtight container like this will keep your coffee beans fresher for longer.

Keep your container of coffee beans at room temperature. Do not refrigerate them because they’ll absorb odours from other food kept in your fridge.

What’s the difference between light and dark roasts?

Light roast coffee: Tastes milder, less bitter, but more acidic to the tongue. A cup of light roast coffee reveals traces of sweetness and fruity undertones, often with a subtle floral aroma.

Medium roast coffee: Sweet in flavour with prominent notes of fruit, chocolate and caramel, highly aromatic and less acidic.

Dark roast coffee: Bold and rich in body and texture, with a hallmark aroma familiar to most. Done right, dark roast sometimes reveals a decadent dark chocolatey flavour or toasted pine.

Coffee Basics

a barista pouring latte art
Discover the many ways to enjoy coffee – and its benefits. Photo from Tyler Nix.

What are the different types of coffee?

There are many types of coffee, but here are quick definitions of the most common ones in our region.

Black coffee: Ground coffee beans steeped in hot water.

Espresso: A type of black coffee made by forcing a small amount of near-boiling water through finely ground coffee under pressure.

Latte: A shot of espresso and steamed milk, with some foam.

Cappuccino: A latte, but with more foam than steamed milk.

Flat white: A shot of espresso (60ml) with two times the amount of steamed milk.

Americano: A shot of espresso diluted in hot water.

Mocha: A chocolate espresso drink with steamed milk and foam.

What is decaffeinated coffee?

It may sound like a contradiction, but decaffeinated coffee is produced by soaking coffee beans in a solvent to remove caffeine.

Standards vary: international standards require “decaf coffee” to have had 97% of its caffeine removed, while EU requires decaf coffee to be 99.9% caffeine-free by mass. Experienced roasters are able to produce decaf coffee beans without sacrificing taste or flavour.

What are the benefits of drinking coffee?

Black coffee is full of antioxidants such as vitamins B2, B3, B5, plus manganese, potassium and magnesium. Research suggests that black coffee, consumed in moderation, might offer multiple health benefits, which include:

  • Improving your memory
  • Cleansing your stomach
  • Reducing your risk of cancer
  • Lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes

Coffee Brewing Tips

pouring coffee into a cup
Brewing the perfect cup of coffee is both an art and science. Photo from René Porter.

What’s the best water temperature for brewing coffee?

The ideal temperature for water is slightly below the boiling point at 90-96 degrees Celsius.

Why does my coffee taste sour?

Yikes! Brewing the perfect cup of coffee requires you to choose the right coffee beans, use optimal water temperature, add the correct amount of coffee, and ensure quality of the grind. That’s why coffee brewing is both an art and science, and meeting a skilled barista is like finding a pot of gold.

To troubleshoot your sour cup of coffee, make sure you avoid these 11 common mistakes when brewing coffee.

Choosing A Coffee Maker

a person touching a button on a coffee machine
Home-made, barista-quality coffee is now more possible than ever before with the right coffee machines. Featuring the PrimaDonna Elite Experience. Photo from De’Longhi.

Which coffee maker is best for me?

Selecting the best coffee maker for your coffee preferences and lifestyle can be exciting, but also overwhelming. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help shortlist your options:

  • Do I like my coffee to have strong caffeine?
  • Am I always on the move?
  • Do I prefer my coffee to taste intense and creamy?
  • Is there anyone else in my household whom I’d love to brew coffee for?
  • Am I looking for something fully automatic, or a machine that lets me control essential elements?

Ponder over these questions, then head over to our guide on types of coffee makers to discover our recommendations.

Or book a free consultation with our coffee experts who can help you invest in the right coffee machine.

How often should I clean my coffee maker?

The short answer is, after each use. Studies have found that yeast and mould settle into coffee machine water reservoirs, making them one of the germiest items in kitchens. Water also leaves mineral deposits in machines over time, which can slow down brewing and heating.

Some coffee machines like the De’Longhi PrimaDonna Elite have an automatic cleaning function that kicks in after every use, although you still need to manually clean your milk carafe when not in use.

It’s prudent to wipe down any coffee residue in and around your machine and clean your steam wand with each use. A little bit of cleaning helps maintain your machine’s performance.

You should also descale your machine once a month to remove any build-up of limescale which can spoil the overall taste of your coffee.

Do you have other coffee-related questions? Get personalised 1-on-1 assistance with De’Longhi’s coffee experts, or head down to our stores to experience what a good cup of coffee should be. Enjoy your cuppa!