What Is Gourmet Coffee? (A Quick Guide)

Last Updated on July 24, 2023 by Barry Gray

The first time I came across the term ‘Gourmet Coffee,’ it piqued my interest. Who wouldn’t be intrigued? Does such a coffee paradise exist? 

Images flit through the mind, like how it is served to expectant diners. Is it grown in unique and exotic places? It certainly gets the imagination going, but gourmet coffee is creative and an art.

Gourmet Coffee is another term for specialty coffee. Gourmet is the marketing tool that says, ‘This coffee was grown in an ideal situation and according to certain standards.’ If you want to be a little less twee, ask for specialty coffee. 

But as always, there’s more to this topic than simply saying it’s specialty coffee. Also, there are various other names for gourmet coffee.

  • Specialty coffee
  • Third wave coffee
  • Single-origin Coffee
  • Hand-crafted Coffee
  • Artisan coffee
  • Bean-to-cup Coffee
  • Micro-lot Coffee
  • Farm-direct Coffee
  • Traceable Coffee

Let’s look at some of these in detail. Others we can dip our toes into. 

what is gourmet coffee

What is Specialty Coffee? 

Specialty coffee is graded by the third-party organization ‘The Speciality Coffee Association,’ known as the SCA for short.   

They use a cupping scale that requires a minimum score of 80 out of 100, and they also have specific requirements for things like acidity, body, and flavor.

A rating of around 60 is your general commercial coffee. That might put things into perspective.

Arabica vs. Robusta 

arabica coffee beans

Specialty coffee is typically made from Arabica beans, which are considered to be the highest-quality coffee beans.

Arabica beans have a smoother, more complex flavor than Robusta beans. Many commercial coffees have a mix of both beans and would score below 60 on cupping. 

What are the Characteristics of Specialty Coffee?

Specialty coffee is often more expensive than commercial coffee, but it is worth the price for coffee lovers who appreciate a high-quality cup of coffee.

However, there are several characteristics typically associated with specialty coffee.

  • High-quality beans: Specialty coffee beans are grown in regions with ideal climate and soil conditions. They are harvested with tender loving care! Some are even developed in local areas. 
  • Artisanal roasting: Specialty coffee beans are roasted in a specific way bringing out their unique delicious flavor.
  • Personalized brewing: Specialty coffee, such as pour-over or French press, is brewed manually. This method allows the barista, or you, to control the brewing process and create a more personalized cup of coffee.
  • Focus on the overall experience: Specialty coffee shops offer a more personalized coffee experience than traditional coffee shops

What is Third-Wave Coffee? 

Third-wave Coffee meets the current trend in coffee culture, which emphasizes high-quality beans, artisanal brewing methods, and a focus on the coffee experience.  

Generally, this coffee is characterized by its bright, fruity acidity and smooth, full-bodied flavor.

The taste of third-wave coffee can vary depending on the origin of the beans, the roasting style, and the brewing method used. However, some familiar flavors in third-wave coffee include citrus, berries, chocolate, and nuts.

What are the Origins of Third-Wave Coffee? 

Third-wave Coffee originated in the United States in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It was inspired by the growing interest sustainability of coffee and a more artisanal coffee experience.

Like all specialty coffees, the focus remains on the quality of the beans along with the coffee experience. This type of coffee will differ from your average coffee cup at the coffee shop. 

What is Single Origin Coffee?

what is single origin coffee

This type of coffee is made from beans from a single farm or region.

This gives the coffee its distinctive flavor, which reflects the origin’s terroir. Single-origin coffees are often more expensive than blends, but coffee lovers prize them for their unique and exciting flavor profiles.

Terroir is a French word that refers to the unique combination of soil, climate, and other environmental factors that affect the flavor of a food or beverage.

Some familiar flavors in single-origin coffees include citrus, berries, chocolate, and nuts. 

What are the Characteristics of Single-Origin Coffee?

Single-origin coffee certainly has its own unique characteristics

  • Unique flavor profile: These coffees have a distinctive flavor that reflects the terroir of their origin; as discussed earlier, each coffee will taste different, depending on where it was grown.
  • High quality: These coffees are often made from high-quality beans that have been carefully cultivated and processed. The result is a coffee that has a rich, complex flavor.
  • Sustainable: These coffees can be more sustainable than blends helping farmers promote fair trade practices. 

Single-origin Coffee is an excellent option if you are looking for a truly unique and flavorful coffee experience. It is a bit pricier than blends, but it is worth the price for coffee lovers who appreciate a high-quality brew.

Are There Benefits of Drinking Single-Origin Coffee?

are there benefits of drinking single origin coffee

I’m biased in thinking everyone should drink coffee whenever they can, but single-origin coffee is different in that it does have a number of real benefits associated with it.

  • Better taste: Single-origin coffee has a richer, more complex flavor than blends. If you are genuinely into coffee tastes at its finest, you should check out some of the better specialty coffees. 
  • More health benefits: Single-origin Coffee contains antioxidants that can help protect your body against disease.
  • Better for the environment: Single-origin Coffee can be more sustainable than blends because it supports smaller farmers and enables fair trade.

What is Hand-Crafted Coffee? 

Hand-crafted coffee is just that, made using a French press that allows the barista to control the flavor entirely. 

Hand-crafted coffee is made using traditional methods that extract the beans’ full flavor, resulting in a more artisanal and flavorful option than automatic machines.

That means there are three real benefits of hand-crafted coffee.

  • Better taste: Hand-crafted Coffee has a richer, more complex flavor than coffee from automatic machines.
  • More control: The barista has more control over the brewing process, allowing them to create a cup of coffee tailored to their taste.
  • More personal: Hand-crafted Coffee is often seen as a more intimate experience than coffee made using automatic machines.

What is Artisan Coffee?

what is artisan coffee

Made with care and attention to detail, this coffee uses the highest quality ingredients.

Artisan coffee shops often source their beans from small, independent farms and use traditional methods to roast and brew coffee. Artisan coffee is seen as a more premium option than mass-produced coffee.

What is Bean to Cup Coffee? 

Bean to cup means just that. The beans are roasted and then brewed immediately. 

This ensures that the coffee has a fresh, flavorful taste. The smell alone will bowl you over.

Bean-to-cup Coffee is often available in vending machines and coffee shops, and it is a convenient option for people who want a quick and easy cup of coffee that tastes great.

What is Micro-Lot Coffee? 

Micro-lot is a coffee made from a small, specific crop of beans. This gives the coffee a unique flavor profile that differs from other coffees.

Micro-lot coffees are just that, a particular growing area run by local farmers, and this means people, as well as enjoying the coffee’s unique flavor, can also support farmers through fair trade. 

What is Farm-Direct Coffee?

Farm-direct Coffee is made from beans that are purchased directly from the farm. This ensures that the beans are fresh and of the highest quality.

Fresh beans mean the punchiest coffee. Farm-direct Coffee is often more expensive than other types of coffee. Still, it is a good option for people who want to support sustainable coffee practices and are serious about flavor.

What is Traceable Coffee?

This is simply a type of coffee that can be traced back to its origin. This allows consumers to know exactly where their coffee came from and how it was produced. 

Since people are becoming more acutely aware of how coffee is produced and how the workforce can be treated, traceable coffee allows the conscious consumer to drink coffee without fear of abuse within the industry. 

But how does this traceability concept work? Well, there are two methods widely used in the industry.

  • One way is to use a blockchain. A blockchain is a digital ledger that records transactions. In the case of traceable coffee, the blockchain would record the journey of the coffee beans from the farm to the cup. This would allow you to see where the beans were grown, how they were processed, and where they were roasted.
  • A QR code is a two-dimensional barcode that can be scanned with a smartphone. When a QR code is reviewed, it will take the user to a website that provides information about the coffee. This information may include the farm where the beans were grown, the processing method, and the roaster who roasted the beans.

Gourmet Coffee is made from the highest quality beans, carefully cultivated and roasted to bring out their full flavor. The result is a rich, smooth, and flavorful coffee with a complex aroma that’s simply intoxicating.

More importantly, specialty coffees consider essential consumer factors like sustainability, supporting fair trade consumerism, and helping smaller local farmers increase their profit share. 

Where Can You Get Gourmet Coffee? 

There are many places to buy gourmet coffee, including specialty coffee shops, grocery stores, and online retailers. When shopping for gourmet coffee, it’s essential to look for roasted beans that come from a reputable, traceable source. 

How Do You Serve Gourmet Coffee At Home? 

The best way to serve gourmet coffee is to use fresh, cold water and a high-quality coffee maker, whichever one you choose. 

You can also use various homewares to enhance your coffee’s flavor and presentation. For example, you could use a French press to make a rich, full-bodied cup of coffee or a pour-over coffee maker to make a smooth, delicate cup.

Here is an example of how I like to serve gourmet coffee at home.

I start by brewing a pot of coffee using my favorite single-origin beans. I then grind the beans fresh and use a pour-over coffee maker to brew the coffee. 

I like to use a gooseneck kettle to control the water flow, and I pour the water slowly over the grounds to extract the full flavor of the coffee.

Once the coffee is brewed, I pour it into a mug and add a splash of milk and sugar. 

I finish the cup with a garnish, such as a sprinkle of cinnamon and a twist of lemon. The result is a delicious, flavorful cup of coffee that is perfect for enjoying at home.

My Conclusion

Gourmet coffee is something to enjoy. It delivers a different coffee experience from the norm thanks to its use of unique and flavorful beans.

While I know gourmet coffee is not something you will indulge in regularly, I still think you need to try it out. You will be missing out on something special if you don’t.