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In this post we are presenting 12 of the greatest coffees and coffee being production areas of the world for your consideration.
If you’re looking for expert guidance in discovering the holy Grail of a small farm producing the best coffee farms in the world, I am not your guide. I am not posing as an expert who is taste tested every single coffee on this list and will guide you to the perfect cup of coffee.
But rather, I have done a lot of research and have narrowed down the global cluster of all the coffees to do as few specifics which while you will explore one by one.
I researched many of the “greatest coffee” lists on the Internet and found some coffees repeated again and again no matter whose list you are looking at. My list is a culmination of those frequently mentioned coffees.
The coffees are not presented in any specific order, from best to worst, number one is not necessarily better or worse the number five.
If you’re in a hurry, here are the coffees we will be exploring:
- Dark Sumatra Mandheling Beans From Indonesia
- Yiracheffe Beans From Ethiopia
- Harrar Coffee Beans From Ethiopia
- Kona Coffee Beans From Hawaii
- Blue Mountain Coffee Beans From Jamaica
- Peaberry Coffee Beans From Tanzania
- Toraja Coffee Beans From Sulawesi
- Kenya AA Coffee Beans
- ‘Mocha’ Coffee Beans From Yemen
- La Minta Coffee beans From Costa Rica
- Columbia Coffee Beans
- Guatamala Coffee Beans
I will also suggest some outlets where these coffees can be easily obtained. Here is a good place to start:
Okay let’s get to that bucket list.
12 great Coffee Beans
Where Can I Get Some Good Ideas And Coffee Bean Recommendations?
My primary suggestion is to get out and talk to some coffee roasters and baristas. I am fortunate to be living in a fairly populated area where there are a number of small roasters running their coffee shops and roasting operations.
As part of my routine to educate myself about coffee I have made it a habit to visit two or three new roasters each week. The object of the exercise is simply to pick their brain, chat and talk with other passionate people.
It’s interesting that I have found two distinct types of roasters. One type almost jealously guards his secrets like I’m some secret coffees by going to ruin his business or something. The other type of roaster is a person who’s truly passionate and will talk forever to anybody who’s interested in coffee. Those are the people I have learned the most from.
In fact, when I spoke of my coffee of choice being Sumatra Mandheling and wanting to go in a different direction, he proposed Yiracheffe Beans From Ethiopia, one of the coffees on the list.
My second suggestion in terms of learning about coffee beans to try is to simply do what you’re doing. Browse the Internet, read a few articles. After doing that, I decided to create my own top 10 list of coffees that interest me. I have it taped on the refrigerator door and I’m knocking those puppies off one by one.
I have also started a coffee diary or coffee log. This is simply a notebook that outlines my experiences and flavor impressions. Since I am doing some roasting too I record that data they are also.
Okay, so enough about me let’s talk a little bit about the coffees of the world that are on the list. A suggestion is to jot down those that interest you and start your own list of coffees you might like and start working your way through them.
# 1. Dark Sumatra Mandheling Beans From Indonesia
I started the list with Sumatran coffee out of sheer self-indulgence. This is been my ‘go to’ coffee for many years. It does not appear on every list of great coffees.
My belief for this is that this coffee is very polarizing. You’ll either love it, and become a lifelong fanatic, or hate it and not be able to finish a single cup. There are very few people who are neutral about it.
It has a very full, some would say heavy body and rich earthy flavors. The people who hate it say it is mud. Those who love it say it is ‘do it’ fluid, it will get your motor started.
I believe you owe it to yourself to see which side of the fence you’re on. I bought these because they were organic, fair trade certified and certified shade grown: Sumatra Mandheling Coffee Beans
# 2. Yiracheffe Beans From Ethiopia
Almost at the other end of the spectrum from dark Sumatra coffee are Yiracheffe beans from Ethiopia. I bought some of these beans from my friendly local roaster and the package description says ” it is a fruit bomb”. This is a lighter coffee and is one of the most prized East African coffees. It is fragrant and floral with wine and fruit overtones.
Strangely enough, for my first experience with home coffee being roasting I picked 5 lbs of these green beans as my first project: Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Washed Grade 1 Coffee Beans When roasted to a medium-dark level, it has a smooth medium body and long, lingering finish. If want want to try them roasted, try: Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Origin Micro Roasted Medium Roast
# 3. Harrar Dry Processed Coffee Beans From Ethiopia
This is one of the best and prized prime coffee beans from Africa that are wet processed. The leftovers are dry processed. The exception are the coffee beans from Harrar which are the pick of the litter. It is allowed to dry naturally sometimes right on the tree.
Coffee flavor that is produced is unique the description that I found in Coffee Review said ” The result is a coffee much like Yemen, wild, fruity, complexly sweet, with a slightly fermented aftertaste. This flavor profile, shared by both Yemens and Ethiopia Harrars, is often called the Mocha taste, and is one of the great and distinctive experiences of the coffee world. For this reason Harrar often is sold as Mocha or Moka”
I don’t know, it sure sounds interesting to me and made my list.
Try these: Harrar Dry Processed Coffee Beans
# 4. Kona Coffee Beans From Hawaii
I think you would have to come from outer space to say you love coffee and have never heard of Hawaiian Kona coffee beans. Actual Kona coffee is produced in a relatively small part of Hawaii. Superior coffee is grown in other regions also.
Although Kona coffee has the lion share of publicity and brand recognition, actual taste panels and ratings have scored some coffees from Maui Ka’u in Molokai even slightly higher. So rather than focusing particularly on Kona coffee you might want to take a look at various Hawaiian coffees in general.
Kona coffee has been described as smooth and clean. A medium balanced creamy coffee. It is bright its flavor profile but not sharp or bitter. There may be the slightest hint of chocolate without being chocolatey, if that makes any sense.
A word of caution about Kona coffee (that also applies to Jamaican blue Mountain coffee), is to be aware of blends and marketing gimmicks that state “Kona style coffee”. I can almost guarantee there is little to no true Kona coffee in these.
# 5. Blue Mountain Coffee Beans From Jamaica
For some crazy reason when I think of Jamaican BlueMountain coffee, I immediately think of being on the Caribbean beach watching the sunrise with a great cup of coffee in my hand. That’s the romance, now for the reality.
BlueMountain coffee is smooth, very rich and exceptionally well-balanced. It is generally low in acidity. In other words, it is a superior cup of coffee. Within that heading each estate produces coffee that is slightly different. So if you like BlueMountain coffee in general, there is lots of room for exploration of the taste nuances between the different estates and microclimates.
A primary distinguishing characteristic of true Jamaican BlueMountain coffee is the fact that it is grown at an elevation from 3000 to 5500 feet. They passed a regulatory act in Jamaica called the Coffee Industry Regulation Act which carefully defines true blue Mountain coffee.
Like Hawaiian Kona coffee you must use care that you are not getting a blend or a “BlueMountain” style coffee. Since Jamaican blue Mountain coffee carries a premium price many unscrupulous people are willing to cash in on the name by skirting the regulations.
Here is a coffee that is absolutely guaranteed to be true Jamaican BlueMountain coffee:
# 6. Peaberry Coffee Beans From Tanzania
Peaberry coffee beans look the way they sound. Their primary appearance characteristics are small round coffee beans (as opposed to most coffee beans which are oval), like peas.
These beans are relatively rare, about 10%, and have to be handpicked and selected from regular oval coffee. These particular beings produce a full body cup of coffee with a distinct aroma. A lot of people say that the Peaberry tastes juicier, sweeter, and brighter.
Some coffee swear by these beans and others say they can’t really taste the difference and you’re just paying a premium for sorting process.
Try them and you be the judge:
# 7. Toraja Coffee Beans From Sulawesi
Sulawesi is in Indonesia’s Malay archipelago. I don’t want to scare you but it is from the same region of the world as Sumatra Mandheling. The better coffee beans are grown at the higher altitudes. These will be well-balanced with subtle tastes of dark chocolate and ripe fruit. They are not quite as earthy as Sumatra coffees.
Sometimes I just have to laugh at the way coffee is described. This coffee has been described as “deep and brooding”with a “rustic sweetness”. It is usually suggested that this coffee be dark roasted.
Of course we have a recommendation:
# 8. Kenya AA Coffee Beans
The best of Kenya coffees are world class players, often cited as being one of the top five coffees of the world.
In general, Kenya AA coffees are described as being full-bodied with a rich flavor and fragrant aroma. It has a medium acidity or brightness and slightly for all undertones. It is been compared to some Ethiopian coffees especially the Harrar (our #3 recommendation).
After reading about Kenyan coffee something leads me to believe that the more sensitive palette you have the more you could appreciate the subtleties of this coffee. Although not a light coffee, it is nowhere near as heavy as a Sumatran or Toraja.
The trick to a good Kenya is making sure that is fresh roasted. This would be a great coffee to try from your local coffee roaster where you can guarantee has been roasted within the last day or two. If that’s not possible, of course we have a suggestion for you:
# 9. Mocha’ Coffee Beans From Yemen
Getting really good coffee from Yemen can be very expensive. It is simply a matter of supply and demand. A great deal of focus in Yemen has turned to a different agricultural crop Khat. It is vaguely similar to marijuana in that it can get you high. There is more money and that that in coffee beans. But if you can find the coffee, it is some of the best and most distinctive in the world.
The term Mocha refers to the poured in Yemen from which the coffee is shipped. Starbucks is shaped an entirely new meaning on the word mocha.
Oddly enough, coffee from Yemen has been said to have slight chocolate undertones. It is a medium cup of coffee that has subtle flavor notes. It is popular and often equated with “Turkish style” coffee.
# 10. La Minta Coffee beans From Costa Rica
Coffees from Costa Rica are often regarded as good solid coffees, not necessarily prima donnas or best in the world, but they are eminently drinkable and enjoyable.
There are often described as being balanced with a clean powerful yet bright flavor profile. They do not necessarily have subtle undertones or long-lasting finishes. I think a snob in the wine world would call these coffees “unassuming”.
Costa Rican coffee origins are organized a little bit like French château’s producing wine. The beans are referred to as coming from this region or this farm. La Minta is one such farm as château Lafite Rothschild one winegrowing vineyard. It came to our notice and would like to give it a try
# 11. Columbian Coffee Beans
leaving Colombian coffee beans off this list would be a gross omission. But, it is really hard to get a handle on Colombian coffee because the range is huge. Trying a Colombian coffee and thinking you know what it’s all about is like meeting one person from Texas, talking to them for five minutes and thinking you have an understanding of the entire state.
The taste of Colombian coffee is what North American coffee tastes have been groomed for. Colombian coffee is available in virtually every restaurant, roadside gas station and coffee shop. The quality runs from really terrible really exceptional.
Our recommendation and certainly what we will do is focus on the top level Colombian coffees (ie not Maxwell House). We might discover a diamond in all the rough. Just for kicks I looked at what Consumer Reports had to say about their taste panel blind tastings. Their highest recommendation was:
Oddly enough their ‘Best Buy’ recommendation was:
Allegro Colombia Agustino Forest from Whole Foods which they described as “as having notes of citrus, honey, milk chocolate and hints of malt and toast. At 23 cents a cup, it’s a Consumer Reports Best Buy”
# 12. Guatemalan Coffee Beans
Yes, I admit to using Google search here’s what popped up top in a Google search of “what you Guatemalan coffee beans taste like?’ the answer was : “Guatemala’s coffees tend to be rich and flavorful, in part from the volcanic soil that nourishes much of the country’s crop. “Guatemalan coffees generally have a relatively high degree of acidity and often taste of chocolate,” says SmelltheCoffee. Many coffee aficionados also note a smoky taste to the Guatemalan bean.”
Well, okay I don’t know how much more I can add to that except I do know that coffee beans from Guatemala crept into several ‘Best of’ lists I researched.
Here is a good one to get started with:
There you have it. This is the list that is on my refrigerator door and I intend to work my way all the way through the different coffees.
I hope this article was inspired you to create your own “hit list” or bucket list of coffees that you’d like to try. I was married to my beloved Sumatra Mandheling for years. I thought it was the be-all and end-all.
Eventually, like some marriages it got old and it was time to get out of my comfort zone and revitalize things. I decided to be bold and start experimenting.
I hope you have the same urge and will scratch it. If you don’t try new coffees you’ll never find a better one than the one you are currently drinking.
Here is a side note:
Since I am into coffee roasting, I will be searching for green coffee beans of each type and experimenting with my own roasting.
What I have been doing is buying roasted coffee beans and taking a small sample of what they look like and saving them in little 2 ounce Tupperware containers. That way, when I get a hold of the green beans I have a model shade of coffee being color to be aiming at.
Wishing you the best in all your coffee drinking endeavors….
Coffee Lover’s Accessories:
Here are some gift ideas to help make your coffee experiences richer. We selected these gifts based on practicality and usefulness any coffee lover would appreciate.
Zevro Indispensable Coffee Dispenser, Silver – 1/2 PoundOzeri Pronto Digital Kitchen and Food Scale, Elegant BlackZoku Grey Iced Coffee Maker, Travel Mug – Hot Coffee In – Iced Coffee OutCup Holder Desk Clip Silver – Durable, Portable, and Foldable!
1. Ground Coffee Dispenser. No need to measure every time.Designed to measure one tablespoon at a time, the dispenser can be used to place ground coffee directly into coffee makers or espresso machines. It is constructed to keep ground coffee fresh for maximum flavor, and the included base keeps counter tops clean of ground coffee spills. Holds up to half a pound of ground coffee. Click & Check it out here.
2. Digital Multifunction Kitchen and Food Scale An accurate scale is a must for precision coffee making and coffee bean roasting. This is a top seller. Precision Tare Button calculates the net weight of your ingredients by automatically subtracting the weight of any bowl or container.Runs on 2 AAA batteries (included) that automatically power-off after 2-minutes to preserve battery life. Click & Check it out here.
3. Grey Iced Coffee Maker – Travel Mug Pour hot coffee in – get iced coffee out. Make chilled iced coffee or tea in as little as 5 minutes, no ice needed and it works with any brewing method, including single cup machines, drip, and pour over methods 4 designer colors to choose from. Click & Check it out here.
4. Portable Cup Holder With Clamp – Durable, Portable, and Foldable! This is not cheap plastic – it is aluminum with great clamping power. It fits many sizes of cups and appears safe and secure when holding a 32oz filled cup, a mug (up to 3″ in diameter), a thermos, a water bottle, or a soda can. Click & Check it out here.