Coffee Beans: A Guide for The Aspiring GourmetAuthor: Damian Papworth
There's more to drinking coffee than just walking into a shop and asking for a small, medium, or large cup of whatever the house blend is. The amount of time and effort it takes to grow and harvest coffee beans around the world deserves a little more respect from the average consumer, especially since the delicate taste you get has nothing to do with the barista at Starbucks, and more to do with faraway volcanic slopes and mountain ridges.
Yes, what really makes coffee taste great are the beans themselves, or the special regions in countries around the world where the weather gets together to create the perfect growing environment. To learn a little bit more about the world's different coffee producing regions, as well as the most popular beans, you needn't look any further than this handy guide, which will teach you how to make the best possible pot of coffee around just by learning which brands to select.
Sulawesi Toraja Kalossi
One of the most popular and rare varieties of Arabica coffee around, these coffee beans grow at extremely high altitudes on the island of Sulawesi. The coffee is full-bodied, slightly more acidic than the similar Sumatra blend, and known for its fruit and dark chocolate undertones. As far as Malaysian coffee goes, this is one of the finest beans coming out of the area, and it commands high prices.
Didn't know that one of the birthplaces of coffee was in Ethiopia? Well it was, where for hundreds of years, brewing the beans has been an important part of cultural and religious ceremony alike. Now, the different coffee producing regions in Ethiopia export their world-famous coffee, and no blend is quite as great as Ethiopian Sidamo, a single origin version of Arabica coffee grown in the Sidamo Province of Ethiopia. The beans themselves are small and grey in color, when unnroasted, but once prepared after the harvest, the flavor is unlike anything else. Deep, aromatic, and almost spicy, the coffee has a distinctive floral aroma and a taste that's not entirely different from fine red wine or dark chocolate.
One of the oldest coffee beans used, Harrar coffee beans grow only in the eastern highlands of Ethiopia, and require sorting and processing done entirely by hand, due to the brittle nature of the bean. The bean itself is medium in size, but has a distinct flavor that most people compare to an expensive glass of fruity red wine. The aroma is equally pleasant, and Ethiopian Harrar beans are sold in many gourmet stores around the world.
Leave it to Brazil to make one of the most interesting coffee beans in the game. Instead of high acidity, like so many other varieties of Arabica coffee, this bean instead produces a light-bodied brew with surprisingly low acidity. The hot, humid climate in Brazil is what makes the beans so low in acidity, and the lower growing elevation means that harvests can be timed to when the fruit on the plant still smells sweet, which carries over into the beans once roasted.
It's important to realize how popular blends are within the world of coffee, too. Sometimes, one of these beans tastes even better if it's offset with another, perhaps one that compliments that aroma or allows for more complex undertones of flavor. Mixing beans to produce the perfect cup of coffee is nothing new, and if you're looking to really get into the intricate world of coffee beans and their distinctive flavors, go ahead and get a bean grinder, and start the experimentation process at home.
Regardless of how or where you're shopping for your coffee, please take a moment to consider whether or not it is fair-trade. The world of coffee harvesting is tough stuff, and most of the people who do it never receive proper financial credit for the amount of time and effort they put in. With different fair-trade companies around the world, many of which are easy to buy (just walk into Whole Foods or Trader Joes and ask), it makes giving credit where credit is due a whole lot easier of a task.About the Author: