Today there are dozens of coffee brews, blends, roasts and countries of origin available. But making sense of the variety is more than an intellectual exercise - it's a tasting adventure!
This catch-all term means all things to all people. Often it's just another name for anything except what you find in the grocery aisle. But it needn't be completely meaningless. Just as it's possible to distinguish truly gourmet food from junk food, gourmet coffee can be the genuine article.
Often blended with spices or fruit flavors, gourmet coffee ranges from that found at specialty coffee shops to the truly superior bean from online sites. In every case though, whether mixed with chocolate or cocoa, oranges or bananas, or simply made from a very fine Galapagos Island bean, gourmets are the rare and the delicious.
Coffee plantations see the risks and benefits of growing beans without the aid of artificial pesticides and fertilizers. Though more costly, organic fertilizers and organic pest control methods can help produce a bean high in flavor and low in residues.
The result is, just as one example, a Peruvian blend grow in the Andes. Cultivated by methods developed by the native population centuries ago, the brew is mildly acidic but full of flavor.
Espresso is nothing more than a method of making coffee, regardless of the coffee grinds used. But traditionally, and for good reason, espresso is most often made with darker roasts. The longer roasting time reduces acidity and brings out all the rich flavor of the bean oils.
Typically produced from French or Italian roasts finely ground, then mixed with steam and hot water under high pressure, the result is a heady brew. Espresso is designed for those who like their coffee to announce itself boldly.
Unroasted or 'Green'
Centuries before the coffee drink was invented, physicians recommended sucking on the coffee bean for health purposes. Given the range of conditions, the results would had to have been mixed. Today, green beans are sold in order to keep the oils and other compounds fresh in a naturally preservative package.
The beans are sold 'green', i.e. raw, with the expectation that they will ultimately be roasted before being ground and the result used for a fine cup.
In days past, 'blended' meant 'mixed with milk'. Today it can mean any combination of beans, or beans and other organic products.
Just as fine wines are often made from a mixture of grapes from different types, sometimes even different regions, blended coffees are the result of joining grinds from a variety of beans. Balancing body with acidity is just one of the goals.
Central and South American are often mixed together, even in the bean stage, to make a heady brew from Latin America.
The next step was to create the Mocha Java, a mixture of one-third Yemen Mocha with two-thirds Java Arabica from Indonesia. More exotic mixtures may range from blending Ethiopian with Tanzanian Peaberry to blending Turkish with Moroccan Marrakesh.
Founder of Atitlan Network