What's in a Label?

What's in a Label?

August 14, 2017

Labels Examples

Coffee bag labels come in a lot of varieties. It can become an overwhelming task to translate one label from the next.  There aren't many standards for what a label should say other than it should have the brand and weight which are the minimal legal requirements.  Everything else seems rather subjective and open to the producer's discretion.

Some items on a label are more common than others.  Common details seem to include:

  • Brand
    As it says, it is the brand of the seller of the product. This can cause a buyer to make an association if the brand is well known such as Starbucks.  However, if the brand is not well known, the buyer will need to lean on other information on the label to make a buying decision.
  • Country of origin
    This is huge! Many coffee enthusiasts have tried different coffees and know which countries their taste buds gravitate to. Some countries are well known for coffee, such as Colombia or Brazil.  Other countries are less known, so it is up to the manufacturer of the coffee to make sure that a potential buyer has other information to rely on when making their buying choice.
  • Weight of the product
    This is the weight of the product being sold. Most specialty coffees come in 12oz bags although some manufacturers offer 4oz, 6oz, 8oz and 10oz options.  It's less rare to see specialty coffee sold in a 16oz bag, but there are a few out there.
  • Roast level
    The roast of a coffee greatly affects the taste of the coffee. Most coffee lovers know the roast level they prefer. Roast levels range from light roasts to dark French/Vienna roasts. Take advantage of the roast options if a roaster offers it so that you always get your favorite roast! Some roaster's will make a recommendation on the best roast level for a particular coffee bean.
  • Grind
    This is the grind of the bean in the bag. It could be whole bean, espresso grind, auto-drip or another variation of a grind size. Buyers know how they will be brewing their coffee and many specialty coffee stores offer to grind the coffee to the buyer's desired grind size.
  • Flavor notes
    These vary widely from brand to brand.  Some coffees are very specific about what you can expect when drinking the coffee. Others are quite vague and leave a lot open to speculation. 

When choosing a new coffee to try, take the time to review the label. Hopefully, the brand is providing the details above in order for you to make an informed buying decision!  Remember, the more specific a label or description is, the more the brand cares about giving you the information about the experience you will have drinking their coffee.

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