Explaining Gourmet & Speciality Coffee Types for UK Coffee Drinkers
When it comes to drinking coffee, you will know doubt come across terms such as "Gourmet Coffee," and/or "Speciality Coffee." Nice terms for sure, but what on earth do they actually mean. In this article we do our best, to explain these terms, especially for those of us living in the UK.
The two words gourmet or speciality usually conjure up something different and most likely high end products. Typically these words are used to describe forms of cooking. In a very strict sense they probably do mean that, and usually that means high quality with a high price tag.
More generally speaking though, and especially with a coffee drink, the term is used in a much wider context. You will see many of the better coffee shops referring to speciality coffees, and also to imported coffees with a higher price tag. At the same time these terms can equally be used for the different brewing and flavouring methods.
Be Wary of the Gourmet Coffee Wording
This is a term that is too often used to justify the silly prices that some coffee shops want to charge. Just be very wary of those claims. Do not be afraid to ask what makes the £10 cup of coffee special? More often than not, coffee shops will simply add a shot of a liqueur, or a syrup, and have the audacity to charge a large premium for that.
Ever notice how a biscuit, with some icing and a cherry can cost £1-2 in these shops? They also tend to use a normal espresso, some syrup and a lot of cream to whip up a high price tag. The reality is that, you could make this at home for a fraction of the price.
What is Real Gourmet Coffee?
When it comes to coffee, the word Gourmet is used to refer to the better grade, cut, or quality of many of the foods and beverages we consume. It is fair to say that both Gourmet foods and drinks are associated, as the regular choice for the rich and famous who can afford the higher pricing.
Generally speaking, and for many years, coffee is a beverage that has been available in cheap, regular and gourmet versions for a long time. Years ago Gourmet coffee would only have been served in the finest dining establishments. That has changed though, and today gourmet coffee is widely available and usually affordable, to a variety of people.
Coffee Bean Selection
Many of us will know, that coffee is made from coffee beans. These are found as the seeds inside the berries that develop and ripen, on evergreen bush plants. The species is known as the Coffea plant.
The berries are harvested, and then undergo a processing which also includes drying them. The beans are then graded before being roasted to various degrees which cause them to change physically and in the tastes they produce.
The beans are then packaged if being sold as whole coffee beans. More commonly the coffee beans are ground, into a fine consistency that is commonly known as coffee grounds, and packaged and shipped to destinations around the world.
People like you and me then buy and brew coffee grounds to make our coffee. Some people prefer to grind their own coffee beans before brewing them for coffee. Packaged coffee beans that have not been ground can be purchased in stores and ground using grinding mills or blade or burr grinders
Real Gourmet Coffee Plants
The two most commonly grown species of the coffea plant are Robusta and Arabica. Gourmet coffee will always be made from the top tier coffee beans from the Arabica coffea plant. These top tier plants are grown at high altitudes which have the ideal soil and climatic conditions.
These higher grade coffee beans have fuller flavours, more aromatic, and have slightly less caffeine in them. Robusta beans are low quality and never should be used for speciality or gourmet coffee. It is only the top tier Arabica coffee beans that are considered to be Gourmet, and thereby from which gourmet coffee is made.
Your typical and normal jar of coffee which you can buy in supermarkets is made using a mixture of beans. These use lower grade Brazilian coffee beans and quite often Robusta beans. They may also add a small amount of the Arabica coffee beans to ensure a nicer flavour. Usually, gourmet coffee is roasted at the processing plant and makes it into the customer’s hands within a week.
The two most important things to remember when trying gourmet coffee is that it is fresher and has more flavour than the supermarket and commercial jars of coffee. Another important point to remember with gourmet coffee, is that you can choose where the coffee beans have come from and also know how it has been roasted.
How to Try Gourmet Coffee?
If you have never tried a cup of gourmet coffee, then yo should know there are many choices available. I would recommend, that you give it a try. A great way to do that is to buy samples, or smaller purchases to begin with.
You can purchase small bags so that if you decide you don’t like that particular variety, you don’t have a huge packet in your kitchen still full of coffee. So give gourmet coffee a try, and if you find it is not to your liking you can always revert back to your old ways!
Below I have shown some popular samples that are worth a try. If you click on the image, you will be taken to Amazon UK, where you can read more information, and buy if you so desire.
How to Make Gourmet Coffee at Home?
I mentioned earlier, that it is pretty easy to make high quality or Gourmet coffee at home. Below I have shown you a really cool way of doing just that. I call this my Sunday morning moment. The house is still, the newspaper is ready, and now I just need a really good brew.
Below you will find a video with some interesting options for making gourmet coffee at home.
Buy High Quality Whole Beans
The quality of the coffee bean is what it starts with. A very critical aspect of coffee drinking is the grade of the coffee that you begin with. Most days of the week I use my favourite Italian mix. However on a Sunday, or for those special moments, I will go for something a little more expensive, like a nice dark Colombian roast. I normally buy whole beans and keep them fresh for this moment.
Grind the Beans Carefully
This website is all about the best coffee grinders. This is where they truly come into play. You want to grind your whole bean to the perfect grind. My advice is to purchase a quality burr coffee grinder. Some of the best grinders available today are easy to use and easy to clean up.
By grinding your own coffee beans, you will ll be able to only grind what you need. More importantly though, you will never get coffee that is as fresh as this.
Store Away Quickly
Store the remaining coffee beans tightly to keep them fresh. Air oxidises the coffee beans and will make them go bitter very quickly. I have written a full article on how to store your coffee. For those who haven't the time to do that, then here is a brief summary.
Avoid using a metal canister as that will introduce a metallic taste to get into the coffee beans, making it taste bad. The ideal solution is to use a plastic or ceramic air tight container for your coffee and coffee beans. Also, store it at room temperature because the moisture in the fridge or freezer can make it go bad faster.
Which Coffee Maker?
The coffee maker that you use is of course important. There are so many brewing methods, and we will all have our favourite way to make coffee. The bean to cup is in my opinion the best, as it does all the work for you.
However no matter what you use, stove top, vacuum, french press etc just be sure that the coffee maker is clean, and then kept clean after each use. Coffee is really all about freshness and great flavour.
Is the Water Important?
Now it does depend on how particular or fussy you want to be. If you want to be super fussy, then I would recommend using bottled water to make your Gourmet coffee. Ideally any water you use should ideally be free from chlorine and minerals.
The Right Amount of Coffee vs Water
You should use the right quantity of coffee grounds in the coffee maker of your choice. You need different thicknesses of grind for different brewing methods. You can read about those different grinds by clicking here.
Gourmet Coffee Recipes
In the video below, you can find some great gourmet coffee recipes.
Finally, to enjoy your gourmet coffee make sure to enjoy your coffee when it is hot and fresh. Most good coffee shops are told to keep their brewed coffee for no longer than thirty minutes.