Coffee Shop Questions: The 411
You want to know more about your coffee, but coffee shop snobs can be intimidating. We’re here to save the day, and answer all of your coffee questions.
Sometimes even the most religious coffee drinkers have questions about their brews– what are the difference in coffee beans? Which type of coffee has more caffeine? Are cold brew and iced coffee the same thing? It can be intimidating to ask these seemingly-trivial questions when you’re surrounded by coffee shop snobs. We’re here to save the day, and answer all of your coffee questions.
DOES A DARK ROAST HAVE A HIGHER CAFFEINE CONTENT?
A common misconception when it comes to coffee roast is that a darker roast implies higher levels of caffeine. Wrong. In fact, the roast of the coffee has little correlation to its strength. Light roasts bring out the characteristics of the coffee (such as taste notes), which is why light roasts are most often used for coffee cuppings. They have the highest acidity and are the brightest in comparison to medium and dark roasts.
Dark roasts aren’t necessarily “stronger” in taste and caffeine, they’ve just been roasted for a longer period of time and at higher temperatures. When drinking a dark roast, you’re almost exclusively tasting notes from the roast, and characteristic of a specific coffee’s origin are more difficult to detect. Dark roasts also tend to have a bittersweet flavor.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ARABICA AND ROBUSTA COFFEE BEANS?
Arabica and Robusta are two different species of coffee, and all the coffee you drink is made with one of these types of beans. Robusta beans have a stronger, harsher taste with a nutty aftertaste. Robusta beans are grown exclusively in the Eastern Hemisphere, mainly in Africa and Indonesia, and make up 30% of the world’s coffee.
Arabica coffee beans brew a milder coffee, and tend to have a sweeter, softer taste. Arabica beans can be found in Africa and Papua New Guinea, but are grown primarily in Latin America. These beans make up 70% of the world’s coffee. Robustas are generally considered inferior quality in comparison to Arabica, which is why we scoured the world for the best Arabica beans and brought them back to our hometown in Austin!
WHAT DOES “SUSTAINABLY CONSCIOUS COFFEE” MEAN?
Do you know where your coffee comes from? Coffee shops advertise “Sustainably Grown” or “Fair Trade Certified,” but what exactly is sustainably conscious coffee?
We believe that the path to the best cup of coffee involves a conscious approach to bean sourcing. We advocate for and engage in direct, fair trade to protect farmers. Sustainably conscious coffee grants transparency regarding the source and conditions in which your coffee originated. Our Chameleon Sourcing Standard requires safe and healthy working conditions that protect the environment, and compensate workers fairly. We proudly pay a premium price for our beans and provide farmers with housing, insurance, and a reasonable work schedule. Coffee farmers are typically paid less than $1.50 per basket. We pay at least double.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CAFÉ LATTE AND A CAFÉ AU LAIT?
These coffee shop favorites may look strikingly similar in a mug, but the two vary in content. A Café au Lait is traditionally made with drip coffee, topped with hot milk, and a little foam on top. The brew used in this drink is typically French coffee, which is a lot stronger than what we drink in America.
A Café Latte is made with espresso and steamed milk, arguably making for a stronger drink in opposition to the Café au Lait.
ARE COLD BREW AND ICED COFFEE THE SAME THING?
More often than not, coffee drinkers associate cold brew and iced coffee as comparable. Although both variations have a tendency to be served, well… cold, the two couldn’t be more different. Each beverage is distinguished by very different characteristics, starting at the way in which the coffee is brewed and ending with the taste that results.
Iced coffee is brewed traditionally, meaning that hot water is poured over ground coffee beans to strain out a quick cup of coffee. Cold brew on the other hand, is a process of patience, using time, rather than heat to extract the coffee’s sugars, oils and caffeine. Most cold brewing methods soak coffee beans in cold or room-temperature water for about 12 hours. Chameleon gives its beans 16 hours to soak in limestone-cured Texas Hill country water to give you a super smooth a full-bodied brew.
The great thing about cold brew is that it can be enjoyed either hot or cold, without compromising the quality of the brew! Iced coffee can often have a watery taste due to dilution from ice. Cold brew also contains three times the caffeine, and only half the acidity of traditional coffee, making it easy on the stomach compared to the bitter taste of traditional coffee.
You asked, we answered. We’ve broken down a few of your coffee shop questions to help you better understand your brew. With this coffee knowledge at your fingertips, you’re more ready than ever to join in on the Chameleon coffee obsession. Now go forth and prosper… and grab a coffee-to-go while you’re at it.