You can not go wrong with good coffee from any of the follow regions:
- #1 – Kenya: This is not subtle coffee, they pack distinct strong flavor and are celebrated for their deep, full bodied, acidic cup, with complex fruit and berry tones. In review after review Kenya pops up as one of the world’s great coffees. The coffee is raised both on small peasant plots and on larger plantations from the southern slopes of Mt. Kenya to the capital of Nairobi. Vibrant is one of the more often used terms to describe it. They run can be lemony to peppery from blackberry fruit to winey rich. The grade sizes, ranging in order from the largest to the smallest, are AA, AB, PB, C, E, TT and T. Always go for AA.
- # 2 – Sumatra: The best of the single origin coffees from the islands of Indonesia. High quality Sumatra coffee is grown either near Lake Toba (Mandheling, Lintong) or in Aceh Province, near Lake Biwa (Aceh, Gayo Mountain) or near the northern port of Padang ( Ankola ). The reputable market names you will see over and over are Mandheling and Gayo Mountian which are mountain coffees grown at 3K to 6K feet and are similar in nature. Sumatran coffees are distinguished by smooth body, sweet, bright fruit tones, earthy spices throughout. Some Mandheling coffees are dry processed and have an added earthiness which makes it unique. Many coffee lovers swear by this while others deplore. Look for “Grade One” Sumatra or the higher grade “Premium Triple Pick”. Best roasted at Full City Plus Roast or less.
- #3 – Ethiopia: Both Yemen and Ethiopia claim to be the original origin of coffee. Either way Ethiopia has the richest coffee heritage and produces some of the worlds best coffee. The best dry processed Ethiopian coffee is Harrar (or Harar), which tends to be medium-bodied and brilliantly acidy with rough, fruity or winy tones. Harrars are known to have strong blueberry jam, cocoa, and maybe even a touch of cinnamon and cardamom notes. The best washed Ethiopian coffee is called Yirgacheffe. It is light-bodied but explosive with complex floral and tangerine notes. Yergacheffe is a town in the Sidamo region of Ethiopia. The classiﬁcation system of Ethiopian coffee recognizes 5 grades, look for Grade 1 “Specialty Coffee” or Grade to “Premium Coffee” for washed coffee and Grade 3 for dry processed coffee.
- Organic Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Green Coffee Beans – 3lbs
- #4 – Panama: Its most prized coffees are grown in the Boquete region on the western side of the dominant 11,000 foot high Volcan Baru facing the Pacific where coffee is grown at elevations of 3,500 feet to nearly 6,000 feet. Coffee producers in the Boquete, Volcan, Bambito, Santa Clara and Candela areas continuously produced highly quality coffees with classic sweetness and balance. Panama is the newest major player in the specialty coffee arena. In the early 1990′s the small and somewhat unorganized industry made a major shift and has not looked back. Around 2004 a type of variety called Gesha ( brought in from Ethiopia ) was grown at very high altitude and has been a huge success with very unique flavor. The Hacienda La Esmeralda brand has won top awards from The Specialty Coffee Association of America from 2007 to 2010 and has placed tiny Panama as a major player in the gourmet coffee world.
NOTE: Bring your wallet. Since Panama has come on the scene so quickly with good coffee the market is a bit overheated. A good example is when in 2007 1 pound of coffee produced in the Jaramillo region of Boquete went at online auction for a ridiculous price of $130. That does not mean the coffee is not great or that you can’t find reasonable coffee prices for similar style coffee. Just use your judgement and don’t get pulled into the hype. We really really really love coffee, but anything over $50 per pound is probably just not worth the price.
- Panama Boquette Green Coffee Beans – 5lbs
- #5 – Costa Rica: Exceptional balance. That is what stands out about the best Costa Rica coffees. They are clean, full bodied, with robust acidity, and are certainly one of the better Central American coffees. Costa Rican coffee is grown near the capital of San Jose. Coffees in Costa Rican are generally named based on the market or farm they were grown. Some market and estate names to look for are Alajuela, Heredia, Tres Rios, La Minta, Tarrazu, and San Marcos. La Minita Farm in particular is a very well run farm that produces quality classic Costa Rican coffee.
- Costa Rica Cafe Vida Green Coffee Beans – 3lbs
- #6 – U.S. Hawaii: Several years ago Hawaiian Kona Coffee developed a mythical reputation for some of the best coffee in the world. Unfortunately Kona Coffee’s became so high in demand that prices rose to unreasonable levels. This was followed by a copycat movement to make money from the reputation or the name. Much like Jamacian Blue Mountain coffee you must be certain of what you are receiving. There are many look-a likes and blends that are not the real deal. The ideal Kona is entirely hand-picked, wet-processed and from trees of a strain of typica called Guatemala ( also known as Kona Typica, the bean was brought in from Gautemala in the 1920′s). Kona is grown on small farms above the Pacific on the lower slopes of Mount Hualalai and Mauna Loa on the southwest coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. A coffee that could be considered it’s equal is grown in a northeast section of the Big Island known as Ka’u. Although grown at altitudes of 800 to 2,500 feet, very low for arabica, Kona often displays gentle acidity, and powerful aroma found in higher altitude coffees. It is this gently acidy, distinct fragrance, fruit / wine toned flavor, and smooth pleasant aftertaste that made Kona’s reputation as one of the world’s premier coffee origins. Look for Extra Fancy grade from Buddha’s Cup (Kona), Rising Sun (Ka’u), Hula Daddy (Kona), Rusty’s Hawaiian Coffee (Ka’u), Kowali Farm’s (Kona) among others. Perfect names, you would never guess we were talking about Hawaiian Coffee! You pay a premium for the name but these are coffees worth trying if you have not. You should enjoy this coffee at a City to Full City roast level.
- #7 – Guatemala: The most respected Guatemalan coffees are world famous and have a very distinct, spicy or smoky flavour that is unique compared with nearly any other coffee. They are very acidy, and the spiciness or smokiness comes across as a twist to the acid tones. Strictly Hard Bean (SHB) Grade coffees from the central highland regions of Antigua and Titlan tend to exhibit a this rich, spicy or floral acidity and excellent body. The Antigua region maintains a great reputation with consistently good ratings. Coffees from mountainous areas such as San Marcos or Huehuetenango tend to exhibit less acidity and more fruit. Well respected estates include Capitillo, San Miguel, Los Volcanos, and San Sebastian
- Green Coffee Beans: Organic Guatemala Huehuetenango, 2 Lbs.
- #8 – El Salvador: A much improved coffee region in recent years. Due to civil war and political unrest the coffee industry had suffered tremendously. With a more stable political climate the quality of coffee that specialty farms are producing is excellent and unique. You can find great tasting Bourbon variety beans and the complex – intense Pacamara bean. For a great Pacamara look forLos Ausoles / Tizapa. For excellent classic Central American coffee look for Strictly High-Grown coffee from the Las Cruces, Santa Ana, and Apaneca regions. Cafe Pepil and El Manzano are two excellent brands. These coffees are a great value for the price.
- Green Coffee Beans: Organic El Salvador El Salto, 2 Lbs.
- #9 – Columbia: The central and eastern cordilleras of Columbia produce the best coffees. It is a wet-processed coffee produced by small farms, collected, milled and exported by the Colombian Coffee Federation. Look for “Supremo” Bourbon variety which is the highest grade available. It produces a classic mild Latin America flavor with light fruity tones. Nariño State and Bucaramanga are certianly worth looking into. Bucaramango offers a soft-bean coffee, with heavy body, low acidity, and rich flavour tones.
- #10 – Tanzania: Most Tanzanian coffee is mountain grown near the Kenyan border. Often called Kilimanjaro or named after main towns and shipping points such as Arusha or Moshi. Good Tanzanian coffee is very very similar to good Kenyan and is often a good bet. They offer rich flavour, full body, and a vibrantly winy acidity. Peaberry is a popular type beanoffered often from Tanzanian. It is more of a marketing buzz word than anything that shows in the taste and feel of the cup. It can be very good, but not because it is labeled as “peaberry“. You can find more info on peaberry here.
- Tanazania Kilimanjaro Peaberry Coffee
Our favorite fluid air roaster for fast and consistent roasting of small batches. The SR500 consistently receives good reviews and features variable fan and temperature options.
This is an excellent up to date starter book published in 2010 as a guide to selecting, roasting, and brewing really great coffee. There are plenty of pictures and step by step tutorials. A very attractive and handy book for those who love coffee. Makes a thoughtful gift as well.