Behind the Beans

Café Gourmet? – the rise of gourmet coffee

By Sam Webster

In a society, where luxury is a commodity, it’s no surprise that even food and drink can be exclusive. Traditionally, clothes, jewellery and other assets have been the dividers in society. The rich separate themselves from the poor, through the clothes they wear and the possessions they have.

However, in modern times, there has been a huge influx in the desire for ‘exclusive’ cuisine and drink. Supermarkets, speciality retailers and even artisan establishments for food and drink can be found in many modern cities and towns. One of these new, sought after luxuries is coffee.

Coffee has always, traditionally been an all – class accessible product. The image of a cup of coffee, being enjoyed by both road workers and lawyers alike is in most of our minds. But more and more, so called “gourmet coffee” is making its appearance and its popularity suggests that there exists a niche in the massive coffee market.

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Picture by Rudolph Vicek – Taken from Flickr

But what is gourmet coffee? Surely, there is little difference in a ground bean, grown in the same country as the beans in a jar of regular, branded granulated coffee? Well, that’s where you’re wrong. The coffee beans used in gourmet coffee, are hand cultivated and selected by professional coffee connoisseurs, who have been in the industry for decades.

Like anything, there exists the potential to perfect the process of production. Gourmet coffee is grown is specially treated soil, which has its Ph adjusted perfectly to allow for the optimum growing conditions for the coffee plant.

Instead of an industrial scale plantation, gourmet coffee is grown in considerably smaller batches. Only a few hundred plants, which produce only a few large sacks of beans are grown at any one time. This small yield, results in an inflation of its price.

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Picture by Yabai82 – Taken from Flickr

Go into any Whittard, or other high end coffee store in the UK and you’ll find gourmet coffee. A 125g jar could cost in excess of £25, for what many would call, “just coffee”. But much like fine wine and art, its value can only be truly appreciated by those who study and invest themselves into appreciating it on another level.

For those who are willing to pay such high prices for a consumable item, where the bean is grown and how it is grown more than justify the expenses. Those who have drank the coffee brewed with the beans grown high in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, one of the world’s most prestigious growing locations.

Where the beans are closely monitored and catered to by expert coffee growers, cannot simply turn back to drinking Sainsbury’s own granulated decaf.

Hot Homemade Black Coffee Drink
Picture by Brent Hofacker – Taken from Flickr

But just how different is this taste you may wonder? Well without experiencing it for yourself it’s difficult to say, but understandably, the cost puts many off. However, there is a way to enjoy gourmet coffee without breaking the bank.

Many high-street independent coffee shops are adding gourmet coffee options to their menus, with Ecuadorian, Colombian, Nicaraguan and Jamaican coffee appearing alongside the traditional lattes and cappuccinos.

Although slightly more expensive than their more common counterparts, they are certainly worth a try for those wanting to experience a more luxurious coffee alternative.

Below are just a few examples of some luxury coffee that might interest you:

Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee

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Grown in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, these beans were grown by seasoned coffee artisans, who personally looked over them from seed to bean. Each bean was hand picked and assessed by the growers before being cleared to be sold to the consumer. The coffee is described as possessing an enriching quality, with dark, sensual flavours and aromas, attributed to the rich earth of the Blue Mountains in which they are grown.

Handpicked ‘Rich and Chocolatey’ Coffee

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An example of two luxury worlds colliding, luxury, hand grown and picked coffee with rich  El Salvadorian chocolate produced by an expert chocolate maker and crafted for the specific purpose of enhancing this coffee. The richness of the coffee perfectly compliments the dark, warm tones of the coffee beans enhancing the flavours of each and coming together to form a deep flavour experience.

Guatemalan Elephant Coffee

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Not to be confused with other coffees named after animals, which tend to involve the process of digestion before the coffee is sold. Guatemalan Elephant Coffee beans are grown in one of the world’s most recognised growing locations for coffee. Guatemala is consistently listed as being one of the best places to produce coffee beans, due to the richness of the soil and the tropical environment of the country itself. This environment enriches the coffee beans, allowing them to achieve their best flavours and colours, making them a perfect addiction to any coffee.

Rwanda Kilimbi Natural Coffee

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Africa is slowly becoming a go to for many coffee growing companies. The relatively cheap cost of the land upon which the coffee is grown attracts many businesses. However, only gourmet and professional coffee growers can truly appreciate the best places to grow their unique and flavoursome coffee beans. The hot African climate causes the beans to grow extremely quickly, which can sometimes rush their flavour acquiring process. Professional growers can use techniques to slow this process and ensure the coffee flavour process cuts no corners creating a unique and deep taste as a result.

Monsoon Malabar Ground Coffee

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The seeds, which grow to become the beans in India’s Monsoon Malabar are only planted at the beginning of the monsoon season. This allows for the plant to absorb as much water as possible before the long dry, growing season that follows. This process allows for the plant to grow quickly at first, but produce beans only a few weeks before the next monsoon season. This means that the coffee beans develop a much greater depth and quality of flavour, only achievable by this carefully planned and perfected process, utilising nature and ingenuity to produce an amazing drinking experience.

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