With the recent trends in big name coffee shops and the growing popularity of small gourmet coffee shops all over the country, it seems everyone is starting to take notice of the trend.
What is Gourmet Coffee?
Gourmet coffee is the blend of the very best coffee beans, picked at just the right time, and then processed by skilled artisans who roast the beans to perfection and turn them into the various blends and types of high quality coffee that have unsurpassed flavor.
It’s not your grocery store coffee by a long shot.
How Gourmet Coffee is Made
There are two species of coffee trees from which most coffee is made: Arabica and Robusta. Arabica beans seem to be the most popular these days, and is grown in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
The very best Arabica beans used for gourmet coffee is grown at altitudes between 4,000 and 6,000 feet because the cooler temperatures allow the bean to ripen more slowly giving it more flavor and less acidity.
Gourmet coffee needs to be made from beans that have been picked at just the right moment of ripeness.
This is quite a demanding process because not all of the beans ripen at the same time, so there is a need for the grower to constantly monitor the coffee crop and pick only the ripe coffee cherries at any given time.
After picking, the coffee beans are processed in one of two ways, either soaking and washing the beans to remove the chaff from the bean itself, or using a more natural dry method.
Either method has its own advantages and will produce a fine gourmet coffee if done correctly.
After processing the beans are roasted at very high temperature and then rapidly cooled to give the coffee it’s individual taste.
Generally the darker the coffee bean, the longer the roasting process it has been subjected to. Also the darker the bean, the stronger and more full-bodied flavor of the gourmet coffee.
Contrary to popular opinion, it is not rarity or price that gives coffee its status, but rather the flavor.
This is where the differences in definitions of gourmet coffee begin.
Some say that gourmet coffee is regular coffee that has added ingredients to change the flavor or aroma.
Others say that in order for a coffee to be considered gourmet, the beans must be from different climates and grown in certain soil types.
Also it must be freshly ground in order to qualify, that adding flavor to regular coffee only gives you flavored coffee.
Whatever your definition, gourmet coffees are certainly different than the coffee your average person makes out of a can before work in the morning.
Arabica and Robusta Beans
One coffee manufacturer states that gourmet coffee is a mix of a few different things.
First, it must be made with Arabica beans, as they are naturally more flavorful than the Robusta bean.
Arabica beans only grow at higher elevations and have more flavor and less caffeine than Robusta beans.
It must be grown at a high elevation, as the higher a coffee bean is grown, the denser and finer the quality.
The beans must be grown organically, without chemical fertilizers and such to retain its full original flavor.
Coffees which are roasted darker are considered to be more enjoyable to connoisseurs of gourmet coffee.
The final criterion the maker gives for determining whether your coffee is gourmet is its freshness.
They recommend keeping the beans in an oxygen free bag until just before grinding them for use in a coffee maker or espresso machine.
Oxygen can take the flavor out of coffee rather quickly, so the less it is exposed to, the better it will taste.
Arguably, some of the best gourmet coffees are a combination of all of these things.
A fine, organic Arabica bean blend that is flavored and freshly ground.
There are many flavors available in 100% Arabica bean blends, whether you are looking for whole bean or ground coffee.
There are standard flavors such as mocha and French vanilla, and there are some unique flavors, such as blueberry, maple syrup, and pumpkin spice.
Whatever your flavor preference, there is no doubt that gourmet coffees are a step above your standard convenience store cup of joe.
There are coffees from many different makers, and from many different countries and climates.
For a person who truly enjoys good coffee, it can be worthwhile to look into specialty markets and on the internet at the variety of different gourmet coffees and try some new flavors.
But remember, even the best gourmet coffee beans won’t taste right if it’s not brewed right.
That’s why before you make any coffee, you should also have one of several great coffee maker machines that will bring out the perfect flavor.