The Essentials of Gourmet Coffee

Eidolonai December 15, 2017
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So coffee drinker that you are, you’re probably no stranger to gourmet coffees. But have you ever stopped and wondered what makes gourmet coffees gourmet coffees? Is it the gourmet coffee beans? The roast? The blend? The grind? The flavor? The freshness?

The answer is: it’s all of the above.

The truth is that gourmet coffees are the culmination of every characteristic and consideration you can think of when it comes to choosing quality coffee. After all, why do you think they call it “gourmet coffees”?

The Beans

As you probably know, coffee is a bean. But did you also know that there isn’t just one coffee bean being sold commercially? There are two types – Robusta (Coffea robusta) and Arabica (Coffea Arabica). Robusta is the bean used to produce everyday instant coffee while Arabica is what gourmet coffees are made of.

Why the difference? Because unlike Robusta, Arabica coffees are very particular about their growing conditions: the plant only grows at high altitudes in tropical or sub-tropical climates.

So?

So these growing conditions combined with the particular soil type does all sorts of nice things to the coffee bean so that when you make a beverage out of these beans, your cup of java gives off unique flavors, aromas, and other characteristics that you commonly identify with gourmet coffees.

Where Are Gourmet Coffees Grown?

As there are specific regions where grapes used for winemaking grow, there are also specific regions that are ideal for growing gourmet coffees. There are actually many countries that grow the Arabica plant, but there are only three major growing areas:

* South and Central America – Gourmet coffees from this region are known for their lively acidity, crisp and sparkling quality, and sweet or spicey side. Some of the more famous gourmet coffees grown in this region include Columbian Supremo, Costa Rican Tarrazu, and Guatemala Antigua.

* Africa and Arabia – As the place where coffee was first discovered, this particular region is known for producing gourmet coffees with a wide range of flavors, mellow taste, and fine balance of acidity and body. Gourmet coffees include Kenya AA, Ethiopian fancy, and Yemen Mocha.

* Pacific or Island – Known for producing rich, full-bodied gourmet coffees, this region is particularly identified with coffees that have a very earthy and nutty quality and smooth, dry finish. Gourmet coffees from this region include Sumatra Mandheling, Jamaican Blue Mountain, and Hawaiian Kona Coffee.

Roasting

Before the beans are roasted, they are just beans, not much different from even those beans taken from coffee plants grown in less than ideal conditions. So how does one turn these green coffee beans turn from just another ordinary bean to something more profound?

The answer lies in the art of roasting.

Roasting to the coffee beans to perfection is what makes gourmet coffees what they are. And there are so many considerations to think of from the process itself to the timing, moisture, and content.

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