All you coffee connoisseurs, get set to know about the luxurious drink even better. From rich aroma to unique taste, experience everything about gourmet coffee here!
What is Gourmet Coffee?
According to Wikipedia, “Gourmet is a cultural ideal associated with the culinary arts of fine food and drink or haute cuisine.” Also, gourmet coffee can be characterized by the type of bean used, preparation methods and aroma that makes us understand about gourmet coffee. Additionally, the packaging and processing add up to the best gourmet coffee.
Coffee uses either Arabica or Robusta beans (or the lesser-known Excelsa or Liberica). Arabica beans are difficult to grow and are expensive. But they are considered as the premium best tasting coffee beans. Each blend will have its own flavor, aroma and taste. A coffee that uses 100% Arabica beans can be termed as gourmet coffee. But the term gourmet coffee isn’t used widely as it’s subjective to one’s taste.
Specialty coffee should not be confused with “gourmet” or “premium” coffee. The latter are marketing terms with no defined standards. To promote and self-regulate the industry, growers, exporters, roasters, retailers and equipment suppliers have established trade associations. According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), coffee which scores 80 points or above on a 100-point scale is graded “specialty.” Specialty coffees are grown in special and ideal climates, and are distinctive because of their taste and little defects. The unique flavors and tastes are a result of the special characteristics and composition of the soils in which they are produced.
History of Coffee & Gourmet Coffee
According to Wikipedia, the history of coffee goes back to 8th century in Ethiopia. A goat herder, Kaldi noticed that the goats gained alertness and energy after eating unique red berries. He himself tried a few and noticed an increased energy. Then by 13th-century coffee was consumed in Arabia. Coffee houses were built where people would listen to music, play games and gamble. New York’s first coffee houses sold wine, ale, tea, hot chocolate along with coffee. Washington created the instant coffee in 1906.
Gourmet coffee was introduced in the late 19th century in European countries. According to GourmetCoffeeLovers, “The first coffee is introduced to Europe when a shipment from the Yemen port of Mocha arrives in Venice. Traders and voyagers had long been bringing news of this popular beverage of Arabia back to their European homelands. Coffee quickly becomes popular in Europe where it is known as the wine of Arabia.”
Gourmet coffee is consumed daily by nearly 20% of adult ages 25-29, with two-thirds of all adults consuming coffee at least once per week. An estimated 1 in 10 coffee shops closed since January of 2008, including 900 Starbucks and about 2,500 independent coffee shops, yet overall coffee consumption remains steady during this time.
Countries known for producing specialty coffee are Colombia, Ethiopia, Brazil, Indonesia and Vietnam. These associations exist in both coffee-consuming and producing countries. Arabica and Robusta are the most popular coffee types in the coffee producing countries though there are 75 species of coffee around the world.
How to Know if Your Coffee is Gourmet or Not?
The first step to check if the coffee is to know gourmet or not is the ingredients. If it is gourmet, the coffee beans have to be Arabica. Also, from the aroma, one can tell whether the coffee is gourmet or not. The aroma should be rich, fine and unique. Finally, the taste is where you can decide its authenticity. The taste shouldn’t be overpowering like the regular Robusta beans that taste bitter. Gourmet coffee prepared from 100% Arabica beans are milder and taste sweeter, which makes it gourmet.
Gourmet Coffee Characteristics
1. Smell is one of the factors that defines gourmet coffee. When fresh coffee beans are grinded, the smell is impeccable. So, when the coffee is brewed the rich aroma is enough to identify gourmet.
2. When you take the first sip, the aroma defines the uniqueness of the coffee.
3. According to FoodEditorial, there are three elements to gourmet coffee – body, acidity and balance.
Body: It gives an impression of tartness on the back of the tongue.
Acidity: The coffee gives a sharp taste in the front tongue and dryness at the back of the mouth.
Balance: The balance can be described as the aftertaste that remains after swallowing a sip that may have hints of chocolate, caramel, spiciness, roasted and so on. Like fine wine, gourmet coffee may not leave a specific aftertaste or undernote after you take the sip but may be balanced, without any particularly strong note. For example, it may be neither too spicy nor too roasted or bitter, just well-balanced.
Flavors & More
4. The flavors differ from different parts of the world. For example, Central American coffee has chocolatey nutty flavor, East African and Arabian coffee has a fruity flavor, Asian coffee has earthier flavor, Indonesian coffee has a spicy flavor and Columbian coffee has a floral taste.
5. There are a variety of flavored coffees to try. Like vanilla, hazelnut, caramel, chocolate and so on. Flavored coffees can be good for an after-dinner coffee.
6. You can choose roasted coffee according to your taste. Go for light roasted coffee for a sour taste, medium roasted coffee preserves the flavors and dark roasted coffee will have a bit of original flavor.
7. Blended origin coffee is when coffee come from more than one region. The taste is less distinct. So, even if you mix with milk or cream or any other additives, you can still taste the original blend.
8. Single origin coffee characteristics differ from the blended ones. It comes from a specific region and the flavor is distinct and unique. It is best had as black coffee.
Types of Gourmet Coffee
Typically, Arabica and Robusta coffee beans are the two well-known ones. Arabica is cultivated in the mountains of Yemen, Ethiopia and Sudan at the height of 1000-2000 meters. The yield produced is lesser to the cultivated hence it falls in the high end and is more expensive. While Robusta is cheaper compared to Arabica as the product produced per tree is higher and is easy to grow. It also has bitter taste compared to the milder taste of the Arabica coffee. It’s grown in Vietnam, which is the largest producer of coffee prepared from Robusta beans and also in Africa and Brazil.
Apart from Arabica and Robusta, there are a few more types of gourmet coffees that are popular. Hawaiin Kona coffee is known for its rich taste and aroma. The rare coffee fruit – peaberry Kona is the known for its concentrated taste that makes it so special. Also, Jamaican blue mountain is world famous coffee. It is grown with volcanic soil that makes it unique.
Gourmet Coffee Beans
Coffee beans that are well-prepared, roasted freshly and properly brewed are termed as gourmet coffee beans. It is also said that gourmet coffee beans should be consumed within three days to experience the richest flavor.
Gourmet Instant Coffee
Instant coffee is easy to prepare. Freeze-drying method is famous to store gourmet coffee as it retains all the flavors. Instant coffee is usually sold in granules or powder. This makes it easy to mix with water.
Gourmet Flavored Coffee
There are different types of flavors to choose from gourmet coffee. Like almond, chocolate, vanilla, dark chocolate, Mexican liqueur, Irish cream, banana chocolate, hazelnut, caramel, cinnamon and many more.
Gourmet Coffee at Home
Well, you can prepare gourmet coffee right at home. I have mentioned a few tips that you can use to make your cup of hot gourmet coffee. Enjoy!
1. Firstly, make sure you are using 100% Arabica beans. Try to use coffee beans over ground coffee for authentic taste. Instead of buying instant coffees, invest in a motor hand grinder to ground the coffee beans. The old method of hand grinding may be time-consuming and loses its taste and flavor in this process. Hence a motor grinder is better. Or you can find a grinding place near you.
2. Espresso isn’t made from regular method of coffee brewing but is from an espresso or cappuccino machine.
3. If you like foaming recipes like cappuccino and iced cappuccino, it’s a great idea to invest in a cappuccino machine so that you can get the perfect espresso to milk to foam ratio every time.
4. If you like added strength, use double pouring method to extract the best flavor from your bean. Pour half of the water into your coffee machine and once it stops dripping, add the other half. Wow!
5. Make sure you use the right proportions of water to prepare gourmet coffee. For every 6 ounces of water, you need 2 tbsp of coffee.
6. Also, the brewing time is important for the right taste. Of course, you can’t control a filter or drip brewer, but it is suggested that anywhere between 3 to 5 minutes should give you the best results.
How to Select the Perfect Coffee?
There are many factors to select the perfect coffee. First of all, look for the origin of the coffee, roasted date, additional information like brewed temperature, date when the beans were harvested on the label of the packet. Also, look for a fair trade certified label. This label indicates that the coffee beans were grown in an ethical environment and traded fairly with farmers.
Check if the beans were exposed to pesticides, look out for organic label, too! Caffeine levels vary by coffee. Ideally, coffee will have anywhere between 65-100 milligrams of caffeine per cup. Stronger coffee will be on a higher end and milder coffee on the lower end. And check if the beans are 100% Arabica. Finally, the aroma and taste are something one can connect with to select the perfect coffee.
Best Gourmet Coffee Brands & Prices
There are so many brands with light, medium and darkly roasted blends. I have mentioned these 11 popular brands you can try. The price varies from $15 for 1lb of coffee.
- Larry’s Beans
- Coffee Bean Direct
- The Bean Coffee Company
- Ethical Bean Coffee
- Two Volcanoes Gourmet Coffee
- Jo Coffee
- Camano Island Coffee
- Jungle Coffee
- Death Wish Coffee
- Java Planet
- Cafe Don Pablo Gourmet Coffee
So, this was all about gourmet coffee. Are you gonna try it? Let us know by tweeting @shilpa1ahuja!
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Sahana is a Senior Staff Writer at ShilpaAhuja.com. With an experience in fashion and lifestyle writing, Sahana is responsible for Indian and international fashion week coverage every year, and is developing an expertise in apparel trend forecasting. She also writes about health and fitness, having pursued yoga for 6 years now. She’s not a gym person at all but is all for “running in the park” and is an amateur cyclist. Books and coffee are her other passions. She’s also an amateur photographer. She’s a hardcore Bollywood fan and she loves to cover the nostalgic topics on the same. From fashion trends to famous characters, she can make anyone love Bollywood! Her best article has been 90s Bollywood fashion, a readers’ favorite so far! Prior to her experience with ShilpaAhuja.com, Sahana has written as a freelance author for online magazine, Mashup Corner, and interned at EventsHigh as a content writer. Her blogs on basic fashion, makeup, fitness and city’s food joints that gave her a chance to experiment with her writing. She also has voiced her opinions about feminism and equal rights for men and women at PolkaCafe journals and after quitting her job, she decided to take up writing as her full time career.
Sahana is an engineering graduate and has worked in an MNC, Tesco, for more than a year as an Operations Support. It was her sheer love for fashion that made her quit the monotonous 9 to 5 job to pursue a career in the fashion industry. She’s originally from Bangalore and is currently settled in Chennai (she’s loving the city)! For any queries and discussions, contact her at [email protected] You can also tweet her at https://twitter.com/Sahana_17