How to Find the Best Coffee in the World

Gourmet coffee
Single origin coffee farm, Colombia

Gourmet coffee refers to the best coffee in the

world. They are usually “single origin” or estate farms, having unique characteristics. Search our website to find gourmet coffees of the world.

Fast and easy.  “Specialty coffee” is another term often used. It is the definition given

and regulated by the Specialty Coffee Association and refers to the top 20% of all

coffees in the world. That is the best, the “gourmet coffee”.(http://www.scaa.org/?

page=main). You should be aware that there are two types of coffee beans, Arabica

and Robusta. The difference is that it is harder to produce Arabica beans, since they

grow in fewer regions. Therefore, they are rarer and more sought-after. Gourmet

coffee uses premium Arabica. If the coffee you purchase is really the best ground

coffee, it will

say 100% Arabica beans, a blend, of Robusta. If that’s not clearly stated, you can

assume they are Robusta–which doesn’t mean it’s bad coffee. Arabica is superior in

quality and taste and has half the caffeine of Robusta. This means that it should be

outstanding and noteworthy. Being the “cream of the crop”, it is in limited supply. A

good roaster must develop a good relationships with various plantations, which takes

time and money. These specialty coffees are often referred to as “single source”.

Factors that affect coffee flavor are soil, elevation, and the amount of sun or

rainfall. Add to that, how it is processed after it’s harvested. Other factors include

picking the beans at the right time. Were they allowed to develop and picked when the

fruit around the beans were sweetest and matured? All these circumstances determine how

the final product will taste and give it it’s unique tones, flavor, and acidity. The top

farms are the experts at this.

About 70% of the coffee’s quality depends, not surprisingly, on the bean, itself. The

remaining 30% depends on the region where it was grown. These two factors determine the

character and quality of the coffee.

Best Coffee Beans

Arabica beans require special conditions to grow and flourish. They can only grow at an elevation of about 4,000 feet, with an average temperature at

70 degreesfahrenheit.This limits where they can grow, but one of the favorite places is alongside volcanoes.

Obtaining such gourmet coffee is too expensive for most supermarket and coffee chains.

The time and effort are just too great. Besides, enough of such a product would not be

available for mass distribution. Another benefit of these single source estates are that

they are not a blend. You can get that unique quality more consistently because you know

the exact location that produced it. This is why third wave coffee lovers

are big fans. They see it as more than a commodity, but more like “fine wine” to be

savored. Andrew Hetzel from CafeMakers Coffee Consultants explains, “Educated consumers

that I have encountered are looking for guidance: help interpreting and communicating

the complex tastes and sensations that they experience from good coffees. Most consumers

are not educated and have no interest in becoming educated, but can be subtly guided to

better quality coffees. The accompanying information a roaster or retailer provides is

extremely helpful, describing its source (the farm, land, people, climate, cultivar,

processing and so on) in as much detail as possible.” 

 

Find Your Gourmet Coffee

 Arabica Coffee Beans

The best coffee-growing regions are found in the Equatorial zone known as “The Bean

Belt”, located 25 degrees North and 30 degrees South, or for us in the Western

Hemisphere, between Mexico and Brazil. Arabica growing at high elevation in rich soil,

and the more vigorous Robusta at higher temperatures and lower elevations. Coffee is

grown in more than 50 countries. In Central America and the Caribbean it is produced in

Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Panama.

Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is considered one of the finest coffees in the world.

Known for its smooth, silky taste, it is well-balanced and full bodied. It is easily

some of the world’s best coffee in the world, having a mild taste with a moderately

sweet, fruity flavor, with a subtle taste of chocolate. This results in a smooth and

complex taste. The best of Jamaican Blue Mountain are produced on old estates like

Silver Hill, Wallenford, Moy Hall, Old Tavern Estate, and Mavis Bank. Grown on the

eastern end of Jamaica, at elevations of 7,402 feet, where the climate is cool, and damp

allows the beans to take longer to develop. This takes about twice as long as other

producing areas. The combination of elevation, rainfall and soil contribute to the

unique qualities of this coffee.

Central America

In Mexico it is usually grown on small farms, instead of plantations. Even so, they are

one of the biggest producers, with over 100,000 coffee farmers. Most are located in the

southern areas of Chiapas, Veracruz, and Oaxaca. Their coffee is known for its great

aroma and deep flavor. If you like dark roasts this is your choice, though it’s often

used in blends. A smaller producer is Puerto Rico, where coffee arrived in 1736, from

Martinique. By the late 19th century, they became the sixth leading exporter of coffee

world-wide. Unfortunately, hurricanes have wreaked havoc and destroyed farms over the

years, but the industry is slowly starting up, again. This is being done with high-

quality Arabica beans noted for their balance of body and acidity, while having a fruity

aroma. PP: CA-A lesser known region is Guatemala, which produces coffee that has a

unique taste, rich in flavor. Grown at an altitude of 4500 feet in the rugged growing

areas of Antigua, Coban, and Huehuetanango. These beans tend to be medium to full-bodied

with a depth and complexity of flavor that is almost spicy with hints of chocolate.

Costa Rica, to its south, has a solid reputation, with its meticulous attention to

quality processing and growing methods. They produce wet-processed Arabicas, with medium

body and sharp acidity. Often considered to have perfect balance. Production is mostly

on small farms.

South America

Moving south to South America, is the better known producer, Columbia, which ranks

second in world production. It is often thought of when people look for gourmet coffee

because of its high standards and fame. This is due to the expertise of thousands of

small family farms. The result is consistently high-quality, mild coffees, with a

balanced acidity. Contributing to this is the mountainous landscape, the perfect growing

environment. So rugged is it, that the coffee often has to be transported by jeep or

mule. The highest grade, Colombian Supremo, has a subtle, aromatic sweetness. The

Excelso Grade is softer with a bit more acidity. The biggest coffee producing country in

the world is Brazil. Their coffee plantations cover very large areas. The produce both

Arabica and Robusta beans, depending on climate and type of soil and elevation.

Brazilian coffee has a sweet, medium body, with low acid.

Africa

East Africa produces coffee from Ethiopia and Kenya. Ethiopian coffee comes from three

areas, Sidamo, Harrar, and Kaffa. It has a bold, full-bodied, and full flavored. Kenyan

coffee is familiar to many and tends to have a sharp, fruity acidity, full-bodied, and a

rich fragrance. Grown in the foothills of Mt. Kenya on small farms they put their

emphasis on quality in the processing. Kenya has its own particular grading system .

Their largest beans are graded AA in a 10-point system; AA+ means it was grown on

an estate. On the west coast of Africa, Ivory Coast is one of the world’s biggest

producers of Robusta coffee, which is very aromatic, with a light body and low acidity.

This type is best suited in a dark roast and are often used in espresso blends. Yemen is the

country where coffee was first cultivated commercially. It is still grown in their

centuries-old way. Family farmers make terraced gardens and due to the short-supply

of water causing the coffee beans to be smaller and more irregular in size and shape.

Yemen

Yemeni coffee has a unique taste that is deep and rich. Centuries ago the coffee was

shipped all over the world via their port of Mocha. The Dutch blended this coffee with

that of their colony in Java, Indonesia, and thus was born the familiar blend of Mocha-

Java.

Indonesia

Indonesia is a huge country of thousands of island. Three of the larger ones, Sumatra,

Java, and Sulawesi, are world-famous for gourmet coffee. The Dutch

brought the plant there in the 17th century, and the country quickly became one of the

biggest producers. Most of the farms today are 1-2 acres and most of the coffee is dry

processed. Indonesian coffee is notable for being rich, full-bodied, with slight

acidity. Since they also produce a higher grade coffee that is “aged”, warehousing these

coffees slowly ages them in Indonesia’s warm, damp climate and creates a product that is

sought-after for it’s deep body and lower acidity. This is a process that even today’s

technology can’t match.

Vietnam

Vietnam is fast becoming one of the world major coffee producers. The French originally

brought it in the mid-nineteenth century, when missionaries brought Arabica trees and

planted them in the Tonkin area. In recent years, it has been re-introduced. Mostly

Robusta coffee is grown in the southern half of the country on small plantations.

Vietnamese coffee has light acidity, mild body, and good balance. It is often used in

blends.