What is the best coffee in the world? We turn up the heat on the debate
All around the world, coffee is celebrated as one of humanity’s most beloved beverages. However, as with many things in life, not all coffee is made the same – and many aficionados could fight until the cows come home about which type of coffee is the best. So in celebration of International Coffee Day on October 1, we’re going to continue that debate by listing five of the world’s best coffee beans for both new and old coffee lovers.
The novice: Brazilian Santos coffee beans
For those who are new to the world of coffee, or new to grounding their own coffee beans, Brazilian Santos coffee beans are a great starting point. Brazil is known as a hotspot for coffee, providing 25% of the world’s supply, and Santos in particular has benefited from this industry. It currently stands as Brazil’s main port for coffee exports, so it’s no surprise that great coffee emanates from this region. Brazilian Santos coffee consists of lightly-roasted beans that are delicate on the palate due to their smooth and soft texture, as well as being low in acidity. It works well with those who like adding sugar and milk to their coffee, making it a great, inoffensive launching pad for those who want to make their own coffee.
The all-rounder: dark roast coffee beans
For those who want something a bit bolder, but still seek smoothness, dark roast coffee beans are a great option. In contrast to the lightly-roasted nature of Brazilian Santos, dark roasts tend to be (but not always) of a darker colour. This tends to show through in coating the taste buds with a luxurious viscosity, as opposed to the lightness of our previous choice. But that doesn’t mean a coffee with body can’t be smooth. Dark roast coffee is popular in Europe and as an espresso roast too. It is, however, worth noting that there are many different types of dark roast – and not all are equal. For example, some may have a bit of intensity or a spicy kick.
The original: Ethiopian coffee beans
It’s said that coffee was first discovered in the region of Kaffa in southeast Ethiopia, a claim that is subject to many debates. You can, however, get high-quality Ethiopian coffee beans at affordable prices, a winning combination for coffee lovers. Sidamo is the most famous coffee-growing region in Ethiopia where coffee beans are cultivated in small plantations at elevations from 1,500 to 2,200m above sea level. It is said that high acidic coffee beans are often as a result of being grown in high altitudes and some say that Ethiopian coffee beans are rich with a bright acidity, fruity wine-like kick.
The strong: Java coffee beans
Perhaps one of the most famous types of coffee beans, Java can trace its history back to the time when modern-day Indonesia was seized by the Dutch East India Company. While not the earliest coffee producing area (that honour belongs to Mocha in Yemen), West Java was home to some of the earliest coffee plantations in the late 17-century. Today, Indonesia continues to produce Java. It’s known for its strong, earthy undertones that tend to contain bites of chocolate and tobacco flavour. It has a deep body and low acidity – which makes it great for those who enjoy milk with their coffee.
Silky smooth: Kona coffee beans
Hailed as the connoisseur’s choice, Kona coffee beans are grown only in the Kona district of Hawaii’s Big Island. The narrow belt of coastal land is favoured with rich, volcanic soil, while the sloping terrain is nourished by a unique microclimate of sun and rain in equal measure. As with champagne, the growers guard the brand jealously, and only beans produced in the district can bear the Kona name. Even so, many others ride on the reputation of Kona coffee with misleading names like ‘Hawaiian grown’ or ‘Kona blend’ which contains no more than 10% of the real thing. The beans grown in these conditions produce coffee with a mellow, smooth but robust flavour profile.
In the eye of the beholder
There are so many different types of coffee beans – even our above suggestions are themselves populated by various sub-categories that offer different tastes, smells and textures based on production processes and location. Because of that, it’s always good to remember that – other than our own personal favourites – there is no objectively ‘best’ cup of coffee. So try different coffees, relax and let go of your predispositions. Coffee is to be enjoyed, not argued over!
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