Gourmet flavored coffee - that alone conjures up images of piping hot mugs of freshly brewed coffee being served after dinner at an elite restaurant as you enjoy your crepe suzette. Is it an advertising gimmick to get you to spend more on certain coffees or is there truly a difference. The fact is, gourmet flavored coffees are real and they aren't for the elite alone. In fact, you can probably find a gourmet flavored coffee in a lot of homes and offices.
The popularity of gourmet flavored coffee has soared. For years the only gourmet flavored coffees were the instant coffees available in your local grocery. Although they are quite flavorful, they aren't nearly as tasty as a pot of freshly ground gourmet flavored coffee can be.
Coffee roasters realized that people like variety and of course they took notice of those instant flavored coffees and coffee drinks and began working on making the coffee bean flavored. Other coffee roasters didn't go for exotic flavored coffees; instead they focused on the growing and roasting of the bean itself to make a gourmet flavor.
Beans that are grown in certain regions are considered more desirable than those in other regions. Think back to those Juan Valdez commercials. They were marketing the Columbian bean as being a more flavorful and sought after bean. The Jamaican Blue Forest Bean is one of the most sought after gourmet beans due to its rich taste and enchanting aroma. This bean is proof that gourmet flavor can come from the bean itself, not necessarily as an addition during roasting.
The Bean and the Flavor
Gourmet flavors can be added during the roasting process to enhance or totally alter the flavor of the coffee. There is one central premise that gourmet coffee roasters all follow in order for their coffee to be considered truly gourmet and that is the bean they start with. No matter what additions or flavors they add during roasting, starting off with an inferior bean will create an inferior coffee.
Although there are more than 25 major types of coffee beans in the world, there are two beans that are considered the major players in gourmet flavored coffees, the Arabica bean and the Robusta bean.
The Arabica bean is used in more than 60% of all gourmet coffee production around the world. This bean is very delicate and prone to disease, pest and ailments from the weather. These reasons alone make it a more costly bean. The Arabica bean is used both as a gourmet coffee on its own and as a base for gourmet flavored coffees. The taste of the Arabica bean depends on where it is grown.
The Robusta bean accounts for about 40% of coffee production in the world. Robusta beans are easier to grow which makes them less expensive. This does not mean that they are any less flavorful than Arabica beans. Robusta, as the name implies, have a stronger, darker flavor than Arabica beans and can be used to give the gourmet flavored coffee a little more punch.
Oftentimes gourmet roasters will use a blend of Arabica and Robusta coffee beans as the base to their gourmet flavored coffee. Then, during the roasting process they will add enhancements such as chocolate syrups or caramel to flavor the coffee. Flavoring oils can also be used to flavor the coffee as well as chemical compounds that are created to mimic flavors.
Gourmet flavored coffee that presents itself as naturally flavored should have the most robust coffee base as well as a subtle flavoring. Flavored coffees that have been flavored using a chemical process lose some of their natural coffee characteristics during the flavoring process.
Gourmet flavored coffees have come a long way in recent years. From deep, robust coffee that has been dark roasted to those wonderful vanilla bean gourmet flavored coffees, coffee lover's palettes can be tantalized with a variety of coffee flavors. No longer set aside for the elite, gourmet coffees can be bought at the local grocer or coffee shop by most anyone.