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Gourmet coffee

You may have noticed that the last time you were at a coffee shop or at a supermarket that there is a number of coffee products are labeled as gourmet coffee.  Considering the excellent connotations that come with the world gourmet, it's not surprising that many coffee lovers are attracted to gourmet.  But what exactly is gourmet coffee?  The answer is a little bit complicated.

Gourmet coffee refers to a number of different things that all result in a delicious cup of coffee.  Cultivation practices, growing area, altitude, soil, and climate are just some of the factors that will determine whether a coffee bean is a gourmet coffee.  Similar to how a wine is judged as a fine wine or not, gourmet coffees will vary from year to year, country to country, region to region.  However, there is one uniform characteristic of gourmet coffee: it is made from the best coffee beans that each coffee producing country is able to offer.  Gourmet coffee undergoes a vigorous process to ensure that it has the highest quality.  Gourmet coffee beans are carefully handpicked, processed, and sorted in the country where it has been grown.  It is then roasted to perfection in the country that it is being exported to.  The final step in the gourmet coffee process is when the coffee lover gets to enjoy an excellent cup of gourmet joe.

Gourmet coffee is often described as specialty coffee and some examples of the most popular types of gourmet coffee include the Hawaiian Kona, the Indonesian Java, the Yemeni Mocha, the Columbian Supremo, and the Ethiopian Harrar.  Additionally, flavorings can be added to gourmet coffees to create intoxicating new tastes and these flavored gourmet coffees included such favorite flavored coffee drinks like Amaretto, Irish Crème, and Viennese Cinnamon.  However, the process involved in flavored coffee with gourmet coffee means that flavorings are added to coffee beans while they are still warm and absorbent immediately after roasting.

Gourmet coffee comes from the best coffee beans of coffea arabica.  This species of coffee plant known as Arabica coffee is the most commonly grown species of coffee grown throughout the world.  As a result, all types of Arabica coffee are not gourmet coffee.  Rather, the specific growing conditions of Arabica coffee plants will determine whether they are gourmet or not.  To learn more about Arabica coffee, check out the section called Arabica.

As most coffee lovers know, Arabica coffee plants thrive in high altitudes.  Usually gourmet coffee comes from Arabica coffee plants that grow at altitudes of above 3,000 feet between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn in tropical or subtropical conditions.  The higher the Arabica coffee plant is, the higher the chance is that it will produce coffee beans that can be classified as gourmet.  Coffee beans are graded in terms of its density, with a higher density being preferred.  There is a direct correlation between coffee density and the altitude that the coffee plant is growing at, with a higher altitude equaling a higher density.  As a result, gourmet coffee usually encompasses coffee beans grown from Arabica coffee plants that are situated at a high altitude.

Although the specific conditions in which an Arabica coffee plant is growing will help determine whether the coffee beans it produces can be used for gourmet coffee, it is not the only factor.  Arguably more important are the growing conditions of these Arabica coffee plants.  As the coffee trade has become increasingly important to many country's economies, there has been some drastic changes in the coffee growth process.  While coffee has been traditionally grown under shade trees, many coffee growers have been forced to move away from this process and grow coffee plants in full-sun fields.  This change allows coffee growers to produce more coffee beans at a cheaper rate, however this has a negative effect on the quality of the coffee beans.

As a result, most gourmet coffee are grown in an organic fashion.  Organic coffee refers to coffee that has been made using coffee beans that have been shade grown.  Although the shade grown method of growing coffee results in less coffee bean growth for the grower, it produces a much better tasting coffee that matches the standards of what constitutes a gourmet coffee.  This is because the shade trees slow down the maturation of the coffee plant, which allows for the coffee bean to develop: more natural sugar, better flavor, and less caffeine.  Additionally, organic coffee is free of pesticides and other chemicals that affect the taste of the coffee.

However, it isn't just the specific growing conditions that will determine whether a coffee is gourmet coffee.  Rather, another important issue that will determine whether a coffee is gourmet or not is its specific blend.  While Arabica coffee beans that have grown in excellent conditions under organic means will generally constitute a gourmet coffee, coffee economics have ensured that this is often not the case.  This is because many coffee companies attempt to increase their profit by blending the fine Arabica coffee beans with lesser coffer beans, which dilutes the quality of the coffee.  Some coffee blends have more Robusta coffee beans than Arabica coffee beans, which produce a coffee that has less flavor and higher caffeine content.  While some Robusta-Arabica coffee blends can be good, particularly high quality Espresso roasted coffee blends; gourmet coffee is usually made up of unblended, high-grown Arabica coffee.

Another important component of gourmet coffee is its roast.  The roasting process will impact the taste of a cup of coffee and there are no standardized rules of coffee roasting.  Rather, the degree of roasting needed for a specific coffee bean will depend on the coffee bean's country of origin and its optimal flavor characteristics.  As a result, a coffee bean may need to be roasted to a light brown color to release its flavor characteristics that makes it gourmet, while another type of gourmet coffee bean may be ruined by that exact type of roasting.  When purchasing gourmet coffee, it never hurts to ask a coffee expert about the specific roasting of that coffee.

One last thing that gourmet coffee lovers will need to look out for is the freshness of the coffee.  While roasting coffee beans is essential to releasing the desired flavor characteristics of the coffee bean, it also begins the stage of oxidizing.  Once a coffee bean is roasted, the volatile oils contained within the bean become vulnerable to oxidizing, which will damage the quality of the coffee bean.  It is highly recommended that one purchase gourmet coffee in oxygen-proof bags or to try to purchase whole bean gourmet coffee that can be grinded just before being made.

Now that you've learnt all of the various degrees of gourmet coffee, you will realize the difficult process that a coffee bean becomes classified as gourmet.  With its rich taste, you can now sit back and enjoy a nice cup of gourmet coffee and ponder how much work has been done to create that perfect cup of coffee.