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Ah, coffee, the elixir of creativity and delight. The world always looks better with a steaming, aromatic cup of coffee in hand. Some coffees, though, are more highly regarded than others. If you don’t already have a favorite single origin coffee, you’re bound to find one among this list of the world’s best coffees, in no particular order. Each of these coffees is readily available at a local coffee house or from an online coffee roaster, so you can easily try them and decide for yourself which of these best coffees deserves the number one spot.
Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Coffee
Grown in the mountainous regions of Ethiopia, Yirgacheffe is a deep, earthy, spicy coffee that presents one of the most complex flavor profiles of any coffee in the world and deserves a place on any world’s best coffee list. Yirgacheffe grows in the heart of African coffee country, and once you taste it, you’ll understand why Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee. One of Yirgacheffe’s most endearing qualities is its versatility. A dark or medium-dark roast enhances its sweet earthiness, bringing out the chocolatey notes and makes it an ideal after dinner coffee. Toasted to a medium roast, the citrus and berry notes shine, and its bright acidity makes Yirgacheffe a great coffee to wake up to in the morning. It has a thick, velvety mouthfeel and a heavy body that lingers on the tongue.
If you enjoy complex flavors, think milk chocolate is bland and over-sweetened and savor the complex, fruity notes of both Liebfraumilch and Bordeaux, then Ethiopian Yirgacheffe might be perfect for your tastebuds.
Tanzania Peaberry Coffee
Most coffee cherries offer up two half-beans. Peaberry coffee has one whole bean instead of the two halves, and most coffee cuppers note a distinct difference in flavor between peaberry coffee beans and regular coffee beans. Because peaberries are rarer than the standard — only about 7 percent of a coffee crop is peaberry — coffee made with peaberry is typically more expensive, but when it’s Tanzanian peaberry, the premium is well worth paying and would be on any world’s best coffee list. Tanzanian peaberry is both bright and deep at the same time, and has a light to medium body. Each sip of Tanzanian peaberry coffee is a journey in flavor, starting with a complex floral aroma that often carries tropical hints of pineapple or coconut. The first taste is bright and citrusy, but the flavors deepen as you savor it, revealing hints of berry-like black currant and softening to a chocolatey smooth finish.
If your idea of the perfect breakfast is fresh strawberries and crème fraiche, and you think shortbread is the ideal accompaniment for a cup of coffee, Tanzanian peaberry coffee is worth more than a second taste.
Sumatra Lintong Coffee
Sumatra Lintong coffee encapsulates all the romance and intrigue of the Indonesian islands in a cup of coffee. The largest of the Indonesian islands, Sumatra has two mountainous coffee-growing regions, Lintong and Mandheeling, with Lintong producing consistently better coffee than the rest of the island. This is, in part, because the small coffee holders have become more conscious of their coffee processing methods and take better care to dry the pulped beans on clean coffee terraces. When Sumatra Lintong coffee is processed properly, the sweet earthiness elevates it into competition with the best coffees in the world. Aromatic and rich, Sumatran coffees have the distinction of being velvety without feeling heavy, just a touch syrupy and rich on the tongue. The flavors feature a heady mix of smokiness, honey and butterscotch, with spicy notes of cardamom, cinnamon, sarsaparilla and clove. Sumatran Lintong is also naturally low in acid, which makes it a good choice for coffee lovers with sensitive stomachs.
If you love the flavors of Indian sweets, laced with cardamom, ginger, honey and rosewater, and sweeten your tea or coffee with honey rather than sugar, Sumatra Lintong coffee could be your perfect bean.
Hawaii Kona Coffee
Hawaiian Kona coffee grows about 2,000 feet above sea level on the volcanoes of the Big Island of Hawaii. Kona is a Western favorite, with a clean, bright acidity and rich spicy notes in the finish. Hawaii’s growers aggressively protect their brand and work hard to ensure that only the best coffee beans make their way into coffee sold as Kona. Of all the so-called “best coffees”, Kona is the most balanced, which accounts for its popularity with such a wide segment of coffee lovers. A sip of Kona is both rich and light, and has a buttery mouthfeel that lingers on the tongue. Be aware that many coffees labeled as Kona on the mainland are actually blends that contain other Arabica beans, or even robusta beans, which adulterate the flavor. Look for coffee that is labeled 100% Kona Coffee to enjoy Kona coffee as it should taste.
Kona is less an exotic coffee than it is the penultimate example of Western-style coffee at its best. If you love coffee but wish it were coffee-er, Kona is your bean.
Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee
Vibrant, bright and smooth as silk, Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee takes its place alongside Hawaiian Kona as one of the two best-known gourmet coffees in the world. The complex, well-balanced taste includes floral and nut overtones and a hint of chocolate in the creamy finish. Blue Mountain coffee is slightly sweet, with no bitterness or earthiness in the overall taste. Like Kona farmers, growers of Jamaica Blue Mountain are fiercely protective of the brand, and only those coffees grown between elevations of 3,000 and 5,500 feet in the region south of Port Maria and north of Kingston may be labeled Blue Mountain coffee.
Like Kona, Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee is a quintessential representative of all the flavors and qualities that coffee lovers value most in coffee. If you enjoy coffee flavor and believe that it complements just about any experience, Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee won’t let you down.