Here in the United States of America, coffee is ubiquitous. And it’s not just in dedicated coffeehouses like Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts where Americans can grab a nice hot cup of joe. Even convenience stores like 7-Eleven and Royal Farms and fast food spots like McDonald’s and Burger King have considerable market share. Coffee is not just a popular beverage in the U.S.; it is consumed in significant amounts throughout the world. Not surprisingly, there are a variety of gourmet coffee brands, culled from virtually every corner of the earth. The following are some of the most notable ones:
Ethiopia is sometimes credited as being coffee’s county of origin. Befittingly, this east African nation is the site of one of the world’s best known coffee growing areas: the woreda (district) of Yirgacheffe. The coffee grown there is best described as very spicy and fragrant, with a slight chocolate- or nut-like taste.
While Ethiopia is seen (by some people) as the origin of coffee, Kenya has the reputation of being the continental powerhouse of the crop’s production. And its top-tier coffee is the variety with an AA rating, which is the highest coffee ranking possible. Culled from Arabica plants left to optimally soak in nutrients of the country’s rich soil, Kenya AA coffee is internationally renowned for its sharp, wine-like flavor. Also, hints of fruit—such as citrus and berry—make it ideal for iced coffee aficionados. Names for this gourmet coffee blend include Nyeri and Kirinyaga.
Jamaican Blue Mountain
At a peak of over 7,400 feet, the Blue Mountains contain the highest point of the Caribbean island of Jamaica. It is also the place where the aptly named Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is grown and cultivated. The lower slopes of the mountains—around 2,000 to 5,000 feet above sea level—are designated for coffee growing. Relying on the region’s high rainfall, the soil is rich enough for producing a blend of coffee that is renowned for its bluish-green color, mild flavor, intense aroma and lack of bitterness. Not surprisingly, Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee has become one of the most sought-after and expensive coffee brands in the world; with more than 80 percent of it exported to Japan.
As one of the world’s largest producers of coffee, the South American country of Colombia has its variety of gourmet coffee grown at an altitude of around 4,000 to 6,500 feet above sea level. The largest bean size grading for Colombian coffee is supremo—at a screen size of 17 to 18. Consisting of washed Arabica beans, Colombia Supremo has a soft aroma, sweet flavor and bright acidity.
Hawaiian Kona Coffee
This gourmet coffee variety is so named because it comes from the Kona district of the U.S. state of Hawaii’s largest island, which is appropriately referred to as the “Big Island.” Kona coffee is specifically grown and cultivated on the slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa, which are among the five volcanic sites of Hawaii. The mineral-rich soil found in the aforementioned volcanoes—combined with the minimal wind, sunny mornings, afternoon rain and mild nights—is favorable for coffee growing in the Aloha State. Kona coffee has a sweet taste and generally mild acidity. Like Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, it is one of the most expensive coffee brands in the world, mainly due to its rarity.