For the coffee novice, it is helpful to know that the two main types of coffee beans are Arabica and Robusta. Arabica is considered the superior bean and is used in nearly every variety of coffee considered “gourmet.” Robusta beans are less expensive and can be found in the majority of low-priced, ground canned coffee.
For a gourmet coffee with a standard, rich, full-bodied flavor, it is hard to beat a quality Colombian coffee. Colombian coffee beans are some of the most carefully cultivated, highly sought after, and delectable beans in the world.
Coffee drinkers accustomed to cheap coffee who are looking to try something gourmet would be wise to start out with a Colombian brew. Despite some mass-market coffee companies advertising some of their blends as “100% Colombian,” these should be passed over when looking for a true gourmet coffee. Look for smaller, finely blended products from companies who specialize solely in gourmet coffees.
If a good gourmet coffee has already been much appreciated and something more exotic is desired, consider Kona coffee. Grown only in specific areas of Hawaii, Kona coffee is extremely smooth with little or no bitterness. It also has a pure, subtle, almost fruity taste to it. When purchasing this coffee, be sure to get the 100% Kona. Kona blends may have as little as 10% Kona beans in them and are not a good representative of the flavor.
Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is a somewhat similar type of gourmet coffee that is characterized by a powerful aroma, mildly sweet taste, and full body. Like Kona coffee, it is quite expensive, so it is probably a good idea to try this delicacy by ordering a cup at a coffee shop before taking the plunge and buying some for home use.
Finally, in a testament to the wildly imaginative and perhaps bizarre nature of gourmet coffee, consider Kopi Luwak coffee. This is coffee that is produced by gathering the coffee beans that have been defecated by civets. According to aficionados, passing through the animal’s digestive system alters the flavor of the coffee to something mild, less acidic, and pristine.
True Kopi Luwak costs over $100 per pound, but many fakes are on the market costing much less. Suffice it to say that this type of coffee is only for novelty or for the true gourmet coffee fanatic.