What is the best coffee in the world? This is a question that many coffee lovers have asked themselves at some point, and the answer is not simple. Coffee is a complex and diverse beverage that can vary in taste, aroma, body, acidity, and origin. Depending on your personal preferences and brewing methods, you may enjoy different types of coffee more than others. However, some coffee regions and varieties have gained a reputation for producing high-quality beans that are widely appreciated by connoisseurs and consumers alike. In this article, I will explore some of the factors that make a great coffee, and present my opinion on the best coffee in the world.
One of the most important factors that affect the quality and flavor of coffee is the origin of the beans. Coffee is grown in over 50 countries across the world, mostly in tropical and subtropical regions. Each country has its own unique climate, soil, altitude, and cultivation practices that influence the characteristics of the coffee beans. Some of the most famous coffee-producing countries are Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kenya, and Vietnam1.
Within each country, there are also different regions and sub-regions that have distinct microclimates and terroirs that further affect the coffee beans. For example, Ethiopia has several renowned coffee-growing areas, such as Yirgacheffe, Sidamo, Harrar, and Limu2. Each of these regions produces coffee with different flavors and aromas, ranging from floral and fruity to spicy and earthy2.
Another factor that determines the quality and flavor of coffee is the variety of the coffee plant. There are two main species of coffee plants: arabica and robusta. Arabica is considered to be superior to robusta in terms of taste and aroma, as it has more complex and delicate flavors and less bitterness and acidity3. Robusta, on the other hand, has more caffeine and body, but also more harshness and astringency3. Most specialty coffees are made from arabica beans, while robusta beans are often used for instant coffee or blended with arabica beans to lower the cost or increase the strength3.
Within each species, there are also many different varieties or cultivars of coffee plants that have been developed through natural mutations or selective breeding. Some of the most popular varieties of arabica are Bourbon, Typica, Caturra, Catuai, Geisha, SL28, Pacamara, and Mocha4. Each variety has its own genetic traits that affect the shape, size, color, yield, disease resistance, and flavor profile of the beans4.
A third factor that influences the quality and flavor of coffee is the processing method. This refers to how the coffee beans are separated from the fruit (called cherry) after harvesting. There are three main methods of processing: natural (or dry), washed (or wet), and honey (or semi-washed)5. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages, and affects the moisture content, cleanliness, sweetness, acidity, body, and complexity of the beans5.
Natural processing involves drying the whole cherries under the sun until they shrivel and turn brown or black. This method preserves more of the natural sugars and fruit flavors in the beans but also increases the risk of fermentation and defects5. Washed processing involves removing the pulp and mucilage from the beans using water and machines before drying them. This method produces cleaner and more consistent beans with higher acidity but less body and sweetness5. Honey processing involves removing only part of the mucilage from the beans before drying them. This method creates a balance between natural and washed processing by retaining some sweetness and body but also some acidity and clarity5.
The final factor that affects the quality and flavor of coffee is the roasting process. This refers to how the green beans are heated to develop their color, aroma, and taste. Roasting can be done at different levels or degrees depending on how long and how hot the beans are exposed to heat. The main levels of roasting are light (or cinnamon), medium (or city), medium-dark (or full city), dark (or French), and very dark (or Italian). Each level of roasting has its own effects on the chemical composition.
In conclusion, there is no definitive answer to the question of what is the best coffee in the world. Coffee is a personal and subjective experience that depends on many factors, such as the origin, variety, processing, and roasting of the beans, as well as the brewing method and the preference of the drinker. However, some coffee regions and varieties have earned a reputation for producing high-quality beans that offer a range of flavors and aromas that can satisfy any palate. Some examples are Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, Colombian Supremo, Kenyan AA, Indonesian Sumatra Mandheling, and Geisha from Panama. These coffees are worth trying if you are looking for a remarkable and memorable cup of coffee. Ultimately, the best coffee in the world is the one that you enjoy the most.