As a culinary art, creating exceptional gourmet coffee is similar to the creation of an exceptional wine. Each crop, and even different harvests of the same crop, will have unique characteristics that result from differing conditions over time with respect to the soil, temperature, water, time of harvest, etc.
High quality Specialty coffees are harvested over time from the same plant during the growing season as the beans ripen, leaving the green ones until they are ready. This process creates early and late crops containing differing percentages of nutrients and moisture content affecting the flavor characteristics of the beans. Specialty grade coffees are distinctly superior to those coming from the mechanical harvesting resulting in the bulk of coffees grown for grade coffees sold on the worlds commodity exchanges.
These factors necessitate the coffee roaster to continuously select coffees with the necessary profile of body, taste, acidity and other attributes to meet the objective of the end product in order to consistently maintain a semi-predictable expectation for the consumer.
Each coffee blend will be a combination of these carefully chosen coffees from the current harvest, blended together in a complimentary fashion to achieve numerous variations of flavor, aroma and complexity.
Mocha Java is the earliest known descriptive coffee flavor known for its delicious full bodied and bittersweet chocolate highlights. Early cocoa was named after the Mocha coffee from Yemen.
Latin American coffees that achieve Specialty grade are almost all grown at very high altitudes compared with the coffees of Africa. In general these coffees are known for their full body, acidity and spicy flavors.
Africa is where coffee originated from. Its soil and climate combination produces outstanding coffees that have an exceptional balance of body and refined acidity creating distinctive aromas of flowers and fruit, with complex flavors ranging from citrus to winy.
Espresso will have a stout body and rich coffee essence, with thick creamy consistency as a result of the inclusion of more soluble beans blended with others that add desired flavors. Bold and robust are descriptions often used to describe a desirable espresso. An Italian style espresso will often include natural or unwashed beans that help enhance its creamy consistency. These dry processed coffees are not typically considered Specialty grade, but are what create a traditional espresso flavor.
Natural or unwashed coffees contribute nutty and earthy flavors, while washed Specialty coffees are known for their desirable acidity and refined flavors that are essential to the master roasters ability to create a variety of gourmet style blends.
Specialty gourmet blends are the result of blending specifically selected coffees to achieve any combination of well-rounded, complex, rich, mellow, smooth and even exotic flavors in the final cup.
The master roaster is typically responsible for ensuring the maintenance of the coffee profile of each blend which requires careful selection of the most flavorful green coffee beans from the most current crops available. Time is not a friend of either the green coffee bean or roasted coffee beans.
Roasted coffee beans are designed to be consumed as quickly as possible after roasting as the coffee’s distinct qualities and flavors begin to dissipate immediately after roasting. Coffee beans that have been ideally dried and roasted as close to perfection as possible will typically maintain a quality cup for a period after roasting up to four weeks, two weeks being the ideal for experiencing the coffee’s peak flavors.