There are probably as many perspectives on how to find good quality green coffee beans as there are home roasters. I would not say that my method is the best, but I guess sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. I am one of those people who researchers things to death. This is especially true when it comes to spending my money on a product. When I “got into coffee” I got into coffee. I read all of the books, internet articles, and blogs that I could read. When I decided to roast my own coffee I took my research to the next level and learned all that I could about roasters. I ultimately chose the Nesco Professional Roaster. I then had to research where to buy the roaster – looking to get the best bang for my buck. I happened upon Burman Coffee Traders in Madison, Wisconsin and they seemed to have the best deal based on products, service, reputation, (and the fact that I am from Wisconsin).
When I ordered my roaster from Burman, it came with some sample coffees, but I knew that those few pounds would not be enough; so I ordered extra. I was pleased and impressed with the quality of their green beans and the roast and flavors they provided (as well as their prices and apparent expertise) so it was an easy decision to just “stick with” them. I was then fortunate enough to have another vendor follow me on twitter and begin a dialogue there. I discovered that OurCoffeeBarn was located only 15 miles from my parents’ house so I went to visit. OurCoffeeBarn not only sells green beans, but roasting equipment, roasted beans, and accessories as well. I bought some beans there and was also impressed with their quality, service, and selection. Having found a couple of good suppliers whom I know I can trust, I just stick with them.
Perhaps one day soon I will take the next step and buy my own beans from an importer. This is the next logical step in my progression since it involves a great deal of research and study to learn how to predict the quality of the beans and the coffee those beans will ultimately produce. The best and easiest way to do this is to join one of the many green coffee bean buying clubs that are out there and to then research the offerings that are posted there until you find something you think you will like from an importer you think you can trust. This, to me, is probably much more risky, but also, potentially much more rewarding. Also, with the coffee bean buying clubs it appears as though there is potential for much greater variety than is typically available from your average green bean direct supplier.
Perhaps one of the best things to do is to find a blog, or rather several blogs, written by home roasters and learn all that you can from them about buying green beans, and buy where they buy from whom they buy. Finding good green coffee beans is not rocket science, but it does take time, attention, and effort if you are going to find green coffee beans that will provide you with the best possible cup of coffee you can roast and drink. Perhaps that too is part of what makes roasting coffee so appealing: the search for the perfect bean, because that is where it all begins.