If you take a quick look around your neighborhood or your city’s downtown area, you will surely see how pervasive the coffee culture is in the United States. It’s unlikely that you can go more than one city block without finding a coffee shop or two. The coffee industry in America is worth an astounding amount of money. As of 2018, it had a value of nearly $90 million. And a significant amount of that comes from the sale of gourmet coffee beans and specialty coffee.
Whether consumers are at home or away from home, they love their coffee. And here in the Pacific Northwest, the coffee love-fest is even more pronounced. One large chain, in particular, has almost 800n stores in this region. Americans dig these beans and all the concoctions they can create.
Equiano Coffee is proud to be part of this caffeinated world with our excellent, high-quality specialty coffee offerings. We travel the globe to curate the most fabulous beans available so that we can roast delicious coffee for your enjoyment.
Gourmet? Specialty? What Does It All Mean?
We love our coffee beverages here in the United States. But most consumers haven’t had an opportunity to learn much about the process and supply chain that is involved. And it’s really fascinating!
Since the beans don’t grow here in the US, most people don’t know a lot about how the delicious brew makes its way to their coffee cups. As you wonder where to buy gourmet coffee beans or are looking for a new favorite coffee shop, it can be worth learning a bit about the coffee world.
The Gorgeous Coffee Plant
Coffee grows only in tropical parts of the world, between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Coffee aficionados lovingly refer to this section as the Bean Belt.
The plant is an evergreen shrub with white flowers. Without fruit, it looks very much like the many citrus plants in the tropics. The flowers eventually make room for the beans, or coffee cherries. The cherry usually contains two flat seeds, and these are the coffee beans. Harvesters pick the coffee cherries at perfect ripeness for processing.
The two primary types of coffee plants are Robusta and Arabica. The Arabica beans are the most highly-valued and have a smoother taste. They make up the vast majority of the global coffee supply. Robusta beans have more caffeine and are easier to grow, but most coffee experts say they are the inferior choice of the two plants.
What Is Specialty Coffee?
Local and national coffee shops may use the term “specialty coffee” haphazardly. But in actuality, the phrase has a specific meaning. Coffee beans go through a grading process, called cupping, to receive a score out of 100. Arabica beans that receive a score of at least 80 officially fall into the specialty category, by Specialty Coffee Association guidelines.
The designation carries through the entire chain of command, so to speak. Experts look at all of the following as they consider whether the final result earns the label of specialty coffee:
- Soil condition and sustainability
- Timing of harvest
- Quality of processing
- Skill of roasting
- Quality of brewing
So although many shops may claim they serve specialty coffee, it isn’t always an accurate statement.
Gourmet Coffee Beans
As particular as specialty coffee is, gourmet is the exact opposite. It has no official criteria at all. In most instances, the term “gourmet coffee” is just marketing. But there are definitely things you can look for as a coffee consumer when you’re deciding where to buy gourmet coffee beans or specialty coffee.
Single Origin vs. Blend
Higher-quality coffees usually originate from one farm and utilize Arabica beans. Blends, on the other hand, use a variety of beans from many sources. And they may often include the lesser-quality Robusta beans.
Date of Roasting
When choosing gourmet coffee beans, be sure the date of roasting is on the package. Coffee without this indication is likely to be old and stale.
A self-proclaimed gourmet coffee shop should have experienced baristas with an appreciation of the bean and the brewing process. They will pay attention to the coarseness of the grind, the temperature of the water, and the timing as they brew your coffee.
So, How Do You Find Quality Gourmet Coffee Beans?
If you are ready to take your coffee expertise to the next level, seek out gourmet or specialty coffee options to enjoy. Get to know some local coffee roasters in your area or search online for reputable roasters who use ethical, high-quality processes.
A knowledgeable roaster will be able to explain where the beans came from and how recently the roasting occurred. When possible, look for single-origin choices from one farm or estate. If you enjoy blends, look for those that are sustainably farmed and expertly-roasted.
Finca Villa at Equiano Coffee
If you are ready for an incredible gourmet coffee experience, check out the featured bean at Equiano Coffee. The Finca Villa hails from Colombia and features Caturra and Castillo varietals. Consumers enjoy the taste notes of Concord grapes, amaretto, and chocolate. These varietals enjoy life together throughout their growing, harvesting, and processing, and they offer a stellar coffee experience.
At Equiano, we take our role in the coffee chain very seriously. We work hard to cultivate relationships with the farmers so that we can learn about how they care for their soil, their plants, and their beans. We seek to build sustainable practices that keep peace with the earth and allow the coffee plants to flourish. When we are choosing estates to buy from, we travel to the farm to see their processes firsthand. At Equiano, we explore the world to bring you excellent coffee.
As we move into the heart of winter, waiting for spring, the delicious Finca Villa will warm your heart and soul. Drop into our Eugene, OR, tasting room to try it out for yourself.