Professional coffee tasters (coffee cuppers) go through a lot of training and refining and learn to use a variety of factors to determine the world’s best coffees from the most exotic coffee growing regions. Coffees grown in tropical countries from Central and South America through Africa and Indonesia vie for attention and high coffee reviews based on their unique characteristics.
These coffee qualities include an overall evaluation of the coffee’s flavors including the body and aroma of the brewed coffee as well as the acidity, sweetness / bitterness as well as the finish or aftertaste.
When drinking high end coffees, it’s typically recommended to go with a light-to-medium roast to enjoy more of its single origin nuances, as opposed to a darker roast that tastes more like atypical “coffee”. In recent years, lighter roasts have achieved the highest ratings and reviews thanks in part to the higher quality of coffees coming on the market, which makes the flavors unique to these tropical countries a big feature.
Zimbabwe Coffee – This is an exotic, aromatic coffee with delicious citrus tones shining through in the winey acidity. Known for having a very good balance, Zimbabwe coffee beans also provide interesting flavors and a pleasant aftertaste reflecting the wet processing. Held in particularly high regard by coffee bean connoisseurs is Zimbabwe Chipinge Coffee which, among many fine African coffees is perhaps rivaled only by the esteemed Kenyan coffees.
Kenya Coffee Beans – Widely respected as being among the top-rated coffee beans in all the world, Kenya coffee provides a delicious richness that complements its winey acidity typical of African coffees. The very pleasing aroma of Kenyan coffees reflects the fruit and berry notes and the coffee’s amazing clean taste and bold complexity that comes in part from the wet-processing. The overall result is a potently sweet coffee that resonates with power and intensity that ranks this among the very top of the world’s best coffee beans. Grown on fertile, high plateaus in the volcanic soils of Mt. Kenya, this is truly a premium gourmet coffee. Numerous coffee plant varietals are cultivated in Kenya including the varietals called SL28, SL34, Kent, Ruiri 11, African K7 and Blue Mountain.) Among the finest of Kenyan coffees is the esteemed Kenya AA Coffee cultivated above six thousand feet above sea level and selected as the finest beans by the Kenya Coffee Grading system.
Mocha Java Coffee Beans are respected worldwide as one of the oldest coffee blends known. These coffee beans have an exceptional balance due to the complementary qualities provided by each type of gourmet coffee bean. The Arabian (Yemen) Mocha coffee beans provide a delicious intense quality and wonderful wildness that adds an exotic element to the blend, while the Indonesian Java Arabica coffee beans infuse the brewed coffee with a bright vibrancy that positively shines though the smooth mouthfeel. Explore how these beans were first mixed as a happy accident of history when the ships coming from Java Island docked in the ancient port of Mocha.
Jamaican Blue Mountain
Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Beans – This renowned coffee offers a full body with a silky mouthfeel and great balance that reflects its wet processing. Sweet with notes of chocolate, Jamaican Blue Mountain is known for its refined quality and is very bright with a great acidity, wonderful complexity, and almost a complete lack of bitterness.
The aroma is slightly nutty. Held in particular high regard among the world’s best coffee beans are the peaberry coffee beans grown in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, and these peaberry are sought after in particular by espresso connoisseurs.
Nicaraguan Coffee Beans – The Arabica coffee beans cultivated in Nicaragua and labeled as Elephant Beans are said to be the largest exotic coffee beans in all the world.
They are produced by a unique coffee plant cultivar of the Typical varietal which has low yields but is known for its intense and very concentrated tastes and aromas in the brewed cup which offers a vibrant acidity and clean taste, best appreciated with a medium roast. This is just one of numerous gourmet Nicaragua coffees.
Sulawesi Coffee Beans – These prized coffee beans offer a moderate acidity and smooth, silky body. Held in the highest regard among the world’s most exotic coffee beans is the Sulawesi Toraja Coffee, which comes from a lush tropical island in Indonesia. It is cultivated in the high country and offers a particularly vibrant acidity with delicious notes of chocolate as well as fruit tones.
The rustic sweetness of Sulawesi Toraja is most fully developed in a dark roast which also brings out the smoothness of the finish. Sulawesi coffees have often been referred to as deep and brooding, with earthy characteristics even more pronounced than Java Arabica coffee. This is attributed partly to the processing method used, known as the “Giling Basah” wet-hull method.
This type of processing results in chaff-free green coffee beans and is one of the things that makes Sulawesi unique among the best gourmet coffee beans.
Tanzania Peaberry Coffee Beans – Held in high regard among the world’s best coffee beans are the peaberry coffee beans that come from coffee cherry that have one whole bean rather than the usual two half-beans. These peaberry beans are said to have a more intense and concentrated flavor and that is apparent in the Tanzania Peaberry coffee beans. The coffee is revered for the elegant fruit notes in the acidity along with a medium body and hints of blackcurrant that blend into a deliciously sweet finish.
To bring out the complexity of this best gourmet coffee apply a medium roast which will also help to develop the floral notes in the aroma. Tanzania Peaberry coffee beans are grown on the highland slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
India Mysore Coffee – Not much introduction is needed for this global economic powerhouse, and as the quality of life and economy improves, so do its exports of premium coffees.
This is a sweet, medium-bodied coffee with a relatively mild acidity and rich flavor infused with spice flavors including clove, cardamom, pepper and nutmeg along with hints of tropical fruit. Cultivated in Karnataka in India, Mysore may be aged in the monsoon rains to provide one of the world’s most unique exotic cups and ranks them among the most respected coffee beans.
This “monsooned” India Coffee is known as India Monsooned Malabar Coffee. Typically wet processed coffee, India Coffee is often compared to gourmet Indonesian coffees including the highly respected Java Arabica, though India coffee differs mostly in its acidity which is more like a fine Guatemala Coffee than an Indonesian coffee.
Sumatra Mandheling Coffee Beans – These gourmet coffee beans provide a full body and full flavor with a vibrant acidity and herbal notes in the aroma. The brewed coffee has an exceptional complexity shimmering with sweet notes of chocolate and licorice.
Use either a Medium-Dark Roast or a Dark Roast to enhance the earthy sweetness of this specialty coffee that is among the finest of the respected Sumatran coffees of Indonesia and why they are regarded as among the best coffees.
The dry processing of Sumatra Mandheling creates wonderful tastes in these gourmet coffee beans. Also highly respected from the region are Sumatra Lintong Coffee Beans which are also known for their sweet earthy complexity and aroma.
Costa Rica Coffee Beans – Known for their robust taste and bright acidity, the coffees of Costa Rica are perhaps best represented by the full-bodied Costa Rica Alajuela Coffee Beans, though there are many others that are ranked among the top of the list of the best coffees of the world.
Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Coffee Beans – The bright acidity and sweet flavor of these premium coffee beans are partly a result of the wet processing which also provides a medium body. The taste has a tones of tangerine and citrus along with wine and berry tones.
Overall the taste is clean with a delicious intensity that shines through in the spicy aroma. Cultivated at elevations higher than six thousand feet in the highlands of Ethiopia, the Yirgacheffe coffees are known for their heavy sweetness when given a a Dark Roast, and for the bright acidity when given a Medium Roast.
Guatemala Coban Coffee Beans are respected for their exceptional body (mouthfeel) and spicy flavors in the brewed cup along with wonderful fruit notes in the acidity and a pleasant aroma that shines with floral notes and light tones of wine.
Other exceptional Guatemala Coffees include Guatemala Antigua Coffee as well as the highly regarded Guatemala Huehuetenango Coffee which also offers a sweet floral aroma and pleasant finish that lingers on the palate ranking them among the most exotic coffees.
Panama Coffee Beans – Recently bursting onto the world gourmet coffee scene is the delicious Panama Geisha Coffee that has caught the fancy of the world’s coffee tasters and garnered record prices. These prized coffee beans now ranked among the very best coffees come from the Coffea arabica coffee plant varietal called Geisha which is grown in the Boquete highlands of western Panama.
Unique about these coffee plants is that they grow elongated coffee cherry that contain coffee beans with a delicate acidity, honey and citrus flavors and delicious jasmine aromas alive with floral tones.
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea Coffee Beans – Typically wet processed, these premium coffee beans are well-balanced with a delicious multi-dimensional quality and soft sweetness along with a complex and fruit-toned aroma.
These exotic coffee beans come from plants that originated in Jamaica’s famed Blue Mountains and the taste still resembles the old Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee. Among the respected Papua New Guinea coffees are New Guinea Arona Coffee, New Guinea Sigri Coffee and New Guinea Kimel Coffee.
This coffee is celebrated each year in a ten-day Kona Coffee Cultural Festival during the coffee harvest season. In recent years some other gourmet Hawaii coffees have been catching the attention of coffee judges and these include coffees of Hamakua, Puna, Hilo and Kau (which also celebrates the Kau Coffee Festival).
Civet Coffee Beans – These gourmet coffee beans are considered by some to be the best in the world, while others won’t go near them. There’s controversy over the process of farming these beans, with animals being mistreated and kept in cages with a diet of force-fed coffee beans. Not only is this terrible for the creature, but without a robust diet, the digestive system doesn’t create a proper “Kopi Luwak” coffee.
The vast majority of exotic coffee beans are produced by Arabica coffee plants (there are many respected Arabica varietals), and these coffee plants are grown at high elevations in the world’s prime coffee growing regions where the climate is suitable for the sensitive Arabica plants that require cool temperatures but never below freezing.
A crucial requirement when growing specialty coffee beans is that they are cultivated in fertile soils that have proper nutrient balance for their specific varietal, and good drainage. It is also imperative that the coffee cherry (the fruit of the coffee plant, which holds the coffee beans) must be harvested exactly at optimal ripeness, not too early and not too late – hand picking (or “selective picking”) is the best harvesting method for these coffees.
The next step in ensuring that coffee beans are ranked among the best in the world is the timely and proper processing of the coffee cherry. This is important because if not handled properly at this sensitive stage the coffee bean flavors and aromas may be tainted (e.g., by mold, etc.).
After processing the beans are known as green coffee beans (milled though not roasted) and they are ready for roasting. The roasting of the coffee beans must be tailored to the particular type of bean to bring out the best characteristics of the bean type and fully develop the tastes and aromas.
After roasting the coffee beans must be allowed to degas and then should be quickly shipped to the consumer, preferably in a valve-sealed bag so any gases still emitting from roasting do not harm the fine qualities of the beans, and so that oxygen cannot get into the bag which would also harm the fine tastes and aromas of the beans.
Okay we are almost there. You have the fresh-roasted gourmet coffee beans in your possession and there are only two things left to do: grind the coffee and brew the coffee. Make sure and use a conical burr grinder to avoid overheating the beans as a conventional blade coffee grinder can do. Burr coffee grinders also produce a more consistent grind size for optimal brewing.
Brewing Exotic Coffees
The best brewing method to bring out the finest qualities of the best coffee beans is the French Press Method. Gauge the amount of ground coffee you use, the temperature of the water, and how long the coffee is allowed to steep, all to your personal preference.
Then sit back and savor the perfect cup of coffee.