The Best Coffees in the World

When considering the best coffees in the world, I went to the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) for research. They are the organization that sets the quality standards for specialty coffee, which the public calls “gourmet” coffee. All specialty coffees use arabica beans. The other category of is the robusta bean, which is of inferior taste quality to arabica. Within these categories, there are several varieties of bean. Arabica beans are grown at a higher altitude than robusta.

Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world and is graded in a similar manner as wine. This event is called a “cupping” and has a set of strict standards. Winning a cupping is very prestigious and has a direct effect on the prices a coffee grower can get for his crop.

History of these “cupping” winners has shown that three areas of the world produce the most winners. Interestingly, these regions have a very similar latitude when looking at the world map. The three regions are Ethiopia, Sumatra and Panama.

Ethiopian/Kenyan Coffee (Africa)

Ethiopian coffee is aromatic, highly flavorful, and also known to be some of the best coffees in the world. It is also the origin of all coffee. The Ethiopian people have a legend that says that a goat herder discovered Ethiopian coffee around 850 AD. This legend claims that the goat herder noticed that his sheep were very excited and nearly dancing after eating red berries from a tree. The legend of the founder goes on to say that the herder sampled the red berries for himself and took some of the berries home to his wife who insisted that he take them to the monks. The monks supposedly threw the berries into a fire and noticed the delicious smell that the berries produced. The monks are said to have removed the berries from the fire and boiled the berries in water to create the beverage that we now know as Ethiopian coffee.

Whether this legend is true, or in fact just a legend is forever a mystery. Regardless, Ethiopian coffee has been used for religious ceremonies. These ceremonies are still held today and if a guest is invited to participate in the ceremony, it is well known to be a very beautiful experience.

Locally, Ethiopian coffee is served with either sugar, or in some parts of Ethiopia, salt. Milk or any type of creamer is never used in traditionally brewing. The process of making the coffee varies by region. In some regions it is dry processed and in some other regions it is washed. The Ethiopian coffee found in stores today is dry processed.

The process is often grueling and coupled with with importing adds to the reason of why Ethiopian coffee can be expensive.

When consumers purchase Ethiopian coffee to be brewed at home, it is wise to consider fair trade Ethiopian coffee. The obvious reason to consider fair trade is so that the producers of this wonderful product can reap the benefits of their hard work. Ethiopian coffee has a rich, bold, and exciting history and a taste that has been favored by many people for a long time.

Sumatran Coffee (Indonesia)

Sumatran coffee comes from the island in Indonesia called Sumatra. The taste of Sumatran coffee is spicy, herbal, and very distinct. It is considered to be one of the best coffees in the world and was first introduced by the Dutch around 1699 when the Dutch wanted to keep up with the demand of coffee to Europe. The Dutch traders knew the difference between Sumatran coffee beans and other coffee beans by the appearance, which are irregularly shaped and bright green.

Sumatran coffee is one of the best coffees in the world and has a low acidity which makes it highly favored among other types of coffee. The beans are usually grown in full sunlight and with no chemicals. A highly popular type of Sumatran coffee, yet thoroughly disgusting in many peoples opinion, is the kopi luwak Sumatran coffee. The kopi luwak coffee is coffee beans that have been eaten by the small animal known as a luwak. After the luwak digests and excretes the coffee beans, local villagers collect the excreted beans and roast them. These excreted and roasted beans are said to cost about $300 a pound. Of course, not all of Sumatran coffee comes from the excrement of the luwak. There are many other varieties of Sumatran coffee as well.

Most of the Sumatran coffee beans are processed using the wet and dry processing method. This processing method is another reason why Sumatran coffee is so popular. Most other types of coffee beans are processed by using either a wet method or a dry method, hardly ever both.

When purchasing Sumatran coffee for use at home, a person should try to purchase fair trade Sumatran coffee. Fair trade beans can be found at various online retailers and also at gourmet coffee retailers. This insures that the growers benefit from all of the hard work that they put into growing this delicious coffee.

How to Brew a Great Cup of Coffee Every Time

Coffee is truly one of the pleasures of life. Not only can it pick you up in the afternoon, but the taste can be pure enjoyment. First, though, you need to know a few things in order to brew a great cup of coffee in your own home.

Beans

Great-tasting coffee starts with the best beans and a good coffee grinder. The burr type of grinder is the best. It can operate at slower speeds so your coffee beans are not subject to heat buildup as they are being ground.

With good coffee beans, a burr grinder, and an above average coffee maker, you can make a great cup of coffee at home that equals anything bought at a coffee house. The only other expense you will experience is any syrups or creamers you choose to put in. You’ll still be saving a lot of money by making your coffee at home.

What are the best beans to buy? What’s the difference between arabica and robusta, the two basic coffee species?

Arabica

There are two basic coffee variants: one is the traditional arabica, and the other is robusta coffee.

The shrubs that produce arabica coffee beans were said to have been planted by the descendants of the Queen of Sheba, who came from Ethiopia, where Coffea arabica originates. Arabica beans tend to have less caffeine and milder flavor than robusta. In fact robusta coffee beans have twice the caffeine.

Arabica coffee beans are considered to be superior in quality than robusta. All gourmet coffee beans are created from selected Arabic coffee beans.

Robusta

Robusta is used as an inexpensive substitute for arabica in commercial coffee blends and in almost all instant coffee products. Robusta of finer quality are used in espresso blends for a foamy effect and for better affordability.

High quality robusta is also used to blend espresso for more bite, and to lower costs. Robusta can be grown in climates and environments were arabica would not be profitable.

Not all robusta coffee is less expensive. Some robusta blends include the very popular Jamaican Blue Mountain and the Hawaiian Kona coffees which are so much in demand that they command a higher price.

Most Italian coffee is brewed very strong from the lower quality robusta bean, which might suggest why Italy gave us such innovations as cappuccino (coffee with steamed milk) and flavored coffees

Conclusion

There’s more to enjoying a good cup of coffee than grinding some beans, throwing them into a coffee maker, and drinking the result. To be able to truly enjoy a cup of coffee, start with a burr coffee grinder, an above-average coffee maker, and experiment with different flavors and blends of the best gourmet coffee.

Turkish Coffee FAQ

Turkish coffee is the oldest way of making coffee. This is a short article answering frequently asked questions about Turkish coffee. You can also post your question as a comment and I’ll do my best to answer it.

Questions are in bold.

What kind of coffee must I use for Turkish coffee?

Turkish coffee nowadays is usually made of Latin American blends. Usually the blends contain two kinds of coffee: Arabica and Robusta. Except for the Latin American coffees the blends may also include coffees from Asia or Africa. Some of the best coffees for Turkish blends come from Brazil, Ethiopia and Yemen.

Should I use a coffee particularly made for Turkish coffee or can I use any blend?

Turkish blends are created in a special way to be optimized for Turkish coffee making. Most people that drink the popular Turkish coffee brands are used to a special characteristic taste. This doesn’t mean that you cannot use another coffee blend to make Turkish coffee. For example you can use an espresso blend. The only requirement is that it must be ground very fine like powder. If it isn’t ground fine enough there will be no foam on top of the coffee after you make it and the taste will be weak.

So, in other words you can experiment with any blend you want if you grind it fine enough for Turkish coffee. The taste will be different than the usual though.

Is it healthy?

Turkish coffee is as healthy as any regular coffee. Actually according to some some researches a quantity of two small Turkish coffee cups (demitasse cups) can be beneficial for the heart. If you exceed this amount then it may become bad for your health like any other coffee. Bear in mind that Turkish coffee is made almost as quickly as instant coffee but it’s far better for your health.

What is this thick thing on top of Turkish coffee? Is it like espresso?

When you make Turkish coffee properly you will notice on top a layer of dark, thick and homogeneous foam. This is also known as kaimaki in Greece. If the coffee doesn’t have kaimaki then something is definitely wrong with the coffee making:

  • small quantity of coffee used
  • not properly heated
  • ground coarser than required
  • very stale coffee

In some Eastern countries it is an insult to serve Turkish coffee without this special foam on top.

Kaimaki foam is looks similar to the espresso crema but it very different in terms of physical properties. The espresso crema is formed not only due to heat but also because of high pressure so it’s quite different.

Do I need any special expensive equipment for Turkish coffee?

Making Turkish coffee is very easy and very fast. All you need is a small coffee pot and a heat source. You can use a small stainless steel pot and your electric stove top but it’s preferable to use a traditional copper or brass Turkish pot. Regarding the heat source it’s better to use low fire to make the coffee. A gas burner or an alcohol burner is my favorite heat source for home use.

What size coffee pot do I need?

This is a question that creates a lot of misunderstandings. Basically it depends on how much coffee you are going to make each time.

First, what you need to know is that you will need a coffee pot that holds approximately double the amount of coffee. This is because coffee must have enough room in the pot to foam up and furthermore because of the so-called “oven effect”.

Let me explain…

Traditional Turkish coffee pots have an hourglass shape. This special shape creates an oven-like effect when making Turkish coffee. The oven-effect is highly desirable for better taste. The only requirement for this “oven-effect” is to fill the pot till the point where the pot diameter is smaller. Usually this means a half-full pot.

So, If you want to make two demitasse cups, for you and your friend, you will need a 4 demitasse-cup size coffee pot.

Please note that sizing differs among manufacturers. So instead of looking for a 4-cup size coffee pot look for a coffee pot that holds 4*60ml which equals 240ml. 60ml or approximately 2oz is the size of a demitasse cup.

What about a coffee pot for just one cup?

In this case you will need a coffee pot that holds 2*60ml=120ml coffee.

What about one normal cup?

One normal cup is approximately 250ml so you will need a 500ml pot.

These numbers are not exact. They are just guides to help you. Most of the times buying a bit smaller coffee pot will also be adequate.

Can I grind Turkish coffee with my coffee grinder?

Turkish coffee is ground at the most fine grind setting. Most grinders for home use are incapable of grinding so fine. If you have a blade grinder consider upgrading to a burr grinder. This doesn’t mean that every burr grinder can grind Turkish coffee. So if you are in the market in research of a burr grinder make sure it has a Turkish coffee setting. Some burr grinders don’t have a Turkish coffee setting but they can be modified very easily to grind fine enough for this coffee. This information can be easily found if you make a couple of searches in a search engine.

Another solution are manual-operated Turkish coffee grinders. These grinders are much cheaper than burr grinders and because of their low speed coffee is ground gently without getting heated. In cheap burr grinders because of the small burr dimensions the rotating speed is higher. This way the friction is bigger and the heat generation is higher. More heat means more coffee taste destruction! So in other words small grinding speeds of manual grinders are better for your palate! The big drawback is that this sort of grinding can remind you of manual labor sometimes…

Is there any special way to serve Turkish coffee? Any special tradition?

If you have guests and you want to impress them with your coffee making mastery and your hospitality you can do some simple things. First use a big traditional looking serving tray and put some glasses of water for your guests. Water is used to clean the mouth before tasting the coffee. Prepare the coffees immediately before serving time so that they keep their kaimaki foam and their temperature. You can pair the coffee with some cookies or muffins.

For dessert after the coffee you can offer traditional Turkish delight or baklava. Your guests will be grateful!

If you have any questions about Turkish coffee please post your comments. Enjoy!