Gourmet coffee beans are almost exclusively high-quality mild varieties of the bean Arabica. Arabica coffees are known for their full body flavors and low acidity. However, the term “gourmet coffee” has also come to embrace coffees that are enhanced with flavorings during the roasting process.
Where you get your gourmet coffee beans depends a lot on what you are considering gourmet. Are you looking for gourmet flavored beans or gourmet beans that are grown in a specific region such as the Kona beans of Hawaii?
You can purchase gourmet beans at your local grocery retailer. However, you cannot be assured of their freshness or their authenticity. Any company can label a product as gourmet and you might not know the difference until you have already spent your money on an inferior product. Additionally, they most likely will not carry the higher end gourmet beans.
Local coffee shops are more likely to carry authentic gourmet beans that are fresh. They are staking their business’ reputation on any product they carry and sell. This alone is reason enough to trust their product. In addition, they are usually able to procure a larger variety of gourmet coffees than a typical retailer. They most likely will take special orders as well.
Picking a Great Coffee Bean
If you are going to buy a gourmet coffee bean, you should know ahead of time what kind of bean you want to buy. To help you make your decision, based on the beans growing location and expected flavors, you can choose from among these gourmet coffee beans:
Brazilian coffee beans: Typically these coffee beans are consistent but unremarkable in their characteristic. These coffee beans make a wonderful base for coffee blends.
Colombia: Everyone has heard the commercials with Juan Valdez and his Columbian coffee; however, what they do not tell you is the best Colombia coffee is the Supremo and the Excelso. Colombia also has a Colombian Medellin that is very rich with a fully body and slight acidity. Aged Vintage Colombian coffees are very sweet, thick and rich with a little bit of acidity.
If you like full bodied coffees with that are strong and sharply acidic then you should try gourmet coffee beans from Costa Rica. Another area that has a full bodied coffee that is rich in flavor has a wonderful aroma and a slightly acidic taste is Mexico.
Panama beans are noted for being full-bodied with a mild flavor and a sharp acidity.
Two of the most excellent coffee beans are from Hawaii’s Kona area and Jamaica’s Blue Mountain area coffee growers. The Kona beans have a hint of spice and sweetness with a full body a rich flavor. The Blue Mountain gourmet beans are considered top of the line single origin coffees beans with their full body, slight acidity and smooth mellow flavor.
Gourmet coffee from the Dominican Republic is rich with a moderate acidity. You should look for coffee beans specifically from Santo Domingo or Barahona.
In Guatemala and El Salvador you should look for beans grown in the mountains or high areas. These tend to have the best body and a mild flavor. Those from El Salvador tend to have a medium level of acidity while those from Guatemala have a higher acidity level with a spicy, smoky characteristic.
Java Island, whose name is synonymous with coffee, offers gourmet Arabica beans that are spicy with a heavy body and mild acidity.
The best quality Arabica beans in the Asia/Indonesia area are from Sumatra. Sumatra coffees are wonderfully full-bodied, rich with a mellow taste that is low in acid.
Gourmet coffees can come from around the world or from your local coffee shop. Gourmet coffee can be grown in specific locations that lend to its taste, such as the Kona coffee beans, or it can be made into a gourmet coffee through the addition of flavorings during the roasting process. Either way, coffee enthusiasts know when they are being served a gourmet coffee; it’s all in the taste.