A Guide to Gourmet Coffee

Even if you drink it every day, you may not know what makes gourmet coffee so special–the blend of coffee beans, the roast, the flavor, the grind and the freshness combined. There are two types of coffee bean: the robusta and the Arabica. Most commercial coffees are made from Robusta beans, which grow quickly and easily.

Gourmet coffees, on the other hand, are made from the Arabica bean, which only grow in subtropical or tropical climates at a high altitude. Of these special beans, the best are those which are “certifed organic”, that is, grown without the use of chemicals. There are a few countries which grow Arabica beans, but only three main areas. South and Central American beans are acidic, crisp, spicy and sweet. Notable coffees from this region include Costa Rican Tarrazu and Colombian Supremo.

Arabian and African beans offer a wide variety of flavors, most with notes of wine and fruit. Coffees from this region are usually mellow and balanced, with pleasant aroma. Notables include Yemen Mocha and Kenya AA.

Island or Pacific beans have a full-bodied, rich flavor that finishes dry. Popular choices from this region include Jamaican Blue Mountain, Hawaiian Kona and Sumatra Mandheling.

It’s All in the Roast
For a coffee to be truly gourmet, the green beans must be roasted to perfection. Perfectly-roasted beans aren’t a science, they’re an art; timing and process vary, as do bean moisture, size, darkness, quality and climate. Some beans are better-suited to light roasting, and some must be roasted dark.

Common coffee roasting styles include: American roast, Vienna roast, full city roast, French roast and Italian roast. The names don’t refer to location; rather, they refer to the roasting level. Terminology varies depending on the coffeehouse you’re in, but generally, American roast is the lightest, Italian is the darkest, and everything else is somewhere in between.

With gourmet coffee, the goal is to have a pleasant combination of body, finish, aroma and taste. Most coffeehouses have a signature blend, which usually only comes about after much trial and error. When looking for Coffee Manhattan NY, taste a selection of gourmet blends and choose a favorite–or two.

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