Quick Recipes and Easy

What is “The Best” Coffee?

“What is the best coffee?” is a question that my clients question more often than I would have expected. But, I am not certain that this question has an objective answer like the fact that the blue whale is the largest mammal, or that the Lexus is the most reliable vehicle. Statements like these have more empirical proof.

Those discussions require some sort of standardized definition of the word “best” whereas that definition is not feasible in this discussion. One might define the best coffee as the one that is in most consumer demand. Another might define the best coffee as the one that is held in the highest regard by the masses, like the Jamaican Blue Mountain, Kona Fancy, or Puerto Rican Yaucco Selecto AA. Upon mention of any of these particular varietals, most of you are probably reacting as if everyone has heard of them, but does that really make one of them the “best” coffee?

Perhaps price is the most vital consideration. If this was the case, the Jamaican Blue Mountain would be, hands-down, the “best” coffee. I am not suggesting that this isn’t right. But, I am suggesting that this might be the incorrect criterion on which to focus. There has been some evidence in the coffee world that not all coffee labeled Jamaican Blue Mountain is really Jamaican Blue Mountain. While I cannot claim to have empirical evidence either confirming or denying this claim, I have not seen any evidence of price depreciation to account for any impure blending. The point is that whether or not Jamaican Blue Mountain is, or continues to be the “best” coffee, it will likely always be the most expensive coffee, so we should probably explore another method of measurement.

Another possibility is that the “best” coffee is the rarest coffee. But, this approach immediately makes me reckon of the jewelry industry in which diamonds are considered the “best” gemstone, yet they are not rare at all. Every person plotting to propose marriage can readily find a diamond engagement ring if they have the proper finances available. For this reason, I doubt that the rarest coffees are the “best” coffees. It is also silly to reckon that rarity increases the quality of a substance. It is certainly possible that a coffee of poor biological composition could only exist on one remote island in the world.

Of course, the right response is that the “best” coffee is your favorite coffee. Gourmet coffee beans have a diverse array of flavor, body, acidity, and richness characteristics related to their country of origin, growing conditions, preparation methods, and so on. The intricate balance of characteristics found in each varietal appeals to different enthusiasts in different ways. I personally find few coffee experiences more pleasurable than smelling the spicy peanut fragrance of freshly roasted fine Guatemalan arabica coffees. I find the Huehuetenango to be the best example of this. But, someone else might prefer the citrus notes apparent in a lightly roasted Peruvian La Florida coffee.

Mexican coffees are known for their pleasantly dry acidy snap, while Sumatran coffees are known for their exceptional body. Not only do different coffee varietals provide different flavor, acidity, body, and richness characteristics, but the situation is complicated further by the fact that different coffee enthusiasts place greater or lesser value on each of these categories. Therefore, our conclusion is simple. What is the “best” coffee? It is the one that you like best!

John A. Russo, MBA
The Perfect Bean Roasting Company
perfectbeanonline.com/ perfectbeanonline.com
mailto:PerfectBean@mail.com PerfectBean@mail.com

If you need a custom roaster to prepare the best quality of your favorite coffee or blend, we would be glad to help you out at The Perfect Bean Roasting Company. Please feel free to e-mail us for a free consultation to figure out what you would like best.

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