Coffee grows all over the tropical world, and there are many different varieties even in a single coffee-growing region. Picking the Best Coffee Bean is relatively a tough task practically. Currently with over thousands of varieties of coffee beans, a buyer is often confused in buying and is often found haunting the best bean on the web. So, how do you decide as which coffee bean is the best?
The 5 Best Coffee Bean Picks in the World
First of all, there is no such thing as ‘Best Coffee Beans in the world’ as everything depends on what suits out tongue. Everyone in this world has different preferences and so likes and taste is no way behind. So one thing for us might be awesome but for the other person, it might not be the same. Still, there are factors that are used to determine bean quality. Here are some of the factors that should be considered before buying the beans.
Like all agricultural products, coffee has been selectively bred resulting in a variety of different subspecies. All of these fall under the categories of either Arabica or Robusta beans. Although there are good and bad coffees in both these categories, Arabica is generally considered better quality. All of the beans on this list are Arabica.
Where a bean grows is just as important to the final outcome as the genetic profile of the breed. Altitude, climate and soil conditions all have a profound effect on the flavor of coffee. Weather conditions can change from season to season, which is why single origin coffees can vary so much in flavor and quality.
Arabica beans grow best at around 6000 feet above sea level, but there are two beans on this list that grow at much lower altitudes: Hawaiian Kona and Sumatran Mandheling. In both cases the trees grow in rich volcanic soil which contributes to the flavor and quality of the end product.
A lot happens to coffee beans between the tree and the roaster. Some coffee producers are very careful to harvest the cherries at the peak of ripeness, resulting in a higher grade of coffee than a more haphazard approach.
Coffee can be either wet processed or dry processed. With wet processing, the cherry is removed and the beans are washed and usually fermented before drying. The parchment is removed after the beans have lost about 90% of their moisture content.
With dry processing, all or some of the fruit is left on the beans during the drying period. This process creates a different flavor profile. One reason that Mandheling beans taste so different from Kona even though both grow in similar soils and at similar altitudes is the difference in processing techniques.
Coffee beans are graded according to overall quality before they are exported. Higher grade coffees have to meet stricter standards when it comes to size, shape, color and percentage of substandard beans (fermented or moldy). Different grades of coffee from the same farm can taste quite different, and the price of high-grade beans is also much higher.
We also have a complete guide on How to pick the best coffee beans that tells you more about what to look for when buying beans. And here we will tell you a few top brands that sell the top notch coffee beans.
Which Are The Top Coffee Beans To Buy?
What beans you choose depends on a number of factors. Personal preference is the most important. A single origin may get rave review from the coffee snobs, but if you don’t like the taste, there’s no point in trying to pretend that you do.
Coffee reviewers use a lot of the same language that wine tasters use to describe the flavor profile of a given bean. You may not be able to taste “blackcurrants” or “licorice” in your coffee, but paying attention to the descriptions of coffees that you particularly like or dislike can be useful when you’re trying to choose a new bean. If you like one coffee that is usually described as “bright,” you may like other bright coffees too, even if you don’t quite understand the terminology.
How you plan to use your coffee is also important. You wouldn’t use a high-grade single-origin bean to make a pumpkin spice latte, because the complex flavors will be masked by the other ingredients. Many people will have a couple of different kinds of beans on hand that suit for different uses.
If you’re going to spend money on high quality beans, it’s especially important to use them within 10 days of roasting and to grind them as close as possible to brewing time. Otherwise, the quality of the coffee will have degraded to the point that you’re not really getting what you paid for.
Here are our 5 favorite top coffee bean collection from all around the world. There are many other beans that we could have included, but these coffees are most popular, easy to find, and even a good place to start if you are getting into gourmet coffee for the first time.
1. Ethiopian Yirgacheffe
Ethiopia is the place where coffee growing started – in fact there are still cloud forests in the country were wild coffee trees grow. Ethiopia still produces some of the best coffee bean varieties in the world, including the popular beans from the Yirgacheffe region. Yirgacheffe is about 6000 feet above sea level, making it a perfect environment for growing the finest Arabica beans.
The beans from this region are wet-processed, which means that the pulp of the cherry is removed before fermenting and drying.
Yirgacheffe is a delicate, sweet-tasting coffee with a bright, vibrant acidity. The aroma has both floral and spice notes and the body is light to medium. You may notice a hint of nuttiness or even chocolate in the finish.
This coffee is usually roasted light to medium-dark. Lighter roasts allow the delicate floral notes to shine through while darker roasts accentuate the sweet, spicy and nutty tastes. A balance of these flavors is achieved with just the right medium roast.
2. Hawaiian Kona Coffee
Hawaii is the only US state with a commercial coffee industry. The climate of the Kona Coffee Belt on the Big Island of Hawaii is a bit cooler than in most coffee-growing regions. This, combined with the rich volcanic soil and altitude (lower than typically seen with Arabica beans -between 800 and 2500 feet above sea level) give Kona its distinctive flavor and characteristics.
Kona beans come in six grades: Kona Extra Fancy (the highest), Kona Fancy, Kona No. 1, Kona Select and Kona Prime. Any lower grades are not allowed to bear the Kona name.
Beware of Kona Blends: these contain a minimum of 10% Kona beans and often consist mostly of cheaper beans from Colombia and elsewhere. They may be fine coffee, but they are not genuine Kona.
Hawaiian Kona beans have delicate taste with light acidity and a slightly sweet flavor. The coffee is medium-bodied with notes of spice and wine and an aromatic finish. Kona also tends to be well-balanced and complex in its flavor profile.
As with most fine coffee beans, it’s better not to go too dark with the roast. A medium or medium-dark roast brings out the best in these beans.
Kona beans are very expensive, but this is mainly because they are relatively scarce on the market. The coffee is at it’s best whether you are brewing from a quality drip coffee maker or an espresso maker. There are other beans of similar quality that cost much less.
3. Tanzania Peaberry Coffee
When a coffee cherry produces just one round bean instead of two flat ones, it is called a Peaberry. It is one of the best coffee bean around the world and is preferred by many. Because there is just one bean inside the fruit, people say that Peaberry coffees have a richer, more concentrated taste.
There may be another explanation for why Peaberry beans are traditionally valued so highly. With older roasting techniques such as skillet roasting, the round shape makes it easier to keep the beans in motion resulting in a better quality of roast.
Tanzanian Peaberry beans come from the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru. The acidity is noticeable without being extreme with aromas of blackcurrant and chocolate. The finish is long and sweet. This is a medium bodied coffee that creates a velvety feeling in the mouth.
Try a medium roast to bring out the natural sweetness of this unique bean.
4. Sumatra Mandheling
This coffee grows on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. The name Mandheling refers to the ethnic group that traditionally grew the coffee and not the geographic region. These beans grow in the rich volcanic soil of the Aceh and Lintong regions of the island, at between 2500 and 5000 feet above sea level.
This coffee is low in acidity while still having a bright, vibrant taste. The aroma is a bit earthy, and you may notice flavor notes of herbs, chocolate and licorice with a spicy finish.
Mandheling is a dry-processed coffee, which means that the beans are dried with some of the pulp still on them. This process gives the beans their unique taste, which is moderated somewhat by the process of washing the dried cherries in hot water. The parchment is removed from the beans before they are finished drying, which also contributes to Mandheling’s unique flavor profile and color.
Often you will find that Sumatra Mandheling beans are dark-roasted or medium dark-roasted to bring out the earthy sweetness of the coffee. You will also notice floral notes both in the aroma and the finish.
5. Kenya AA Coffee
This is the highest grade of coffee from one of the world’s best coffee-growing countries. Like other African beans, Kenyan AA has rich body and pleasing acidity that may remind you of citrus and berries. Like most African coffees, these beans have a distinctive floral aroma that also carries into the finish. Some connoisseurs claim that Kenya AA beans produce the world’s brightest coffee.
Kenyan AA beans are grown above 6000 feet above sea level, which is the perfect altitude for Arabica beans.
To avoid losing the brightness and floral notes, look for a medium roast. Longer roasting tends to obscure the subtle flavors that make Kenyan coffee so distinctive.
This list is far from exhaustive, but it should give you a place to start. Once you start paying attention to the variety of flavors and aromas found in different beans, you will get a better sense of your own preferences and will find your best coffee bean. There are so many varieties out there to try and you will never end up trying the whole! Instead, you have to stop somewhere were your tongue sticks. We have also written about the best beans for espresso, if you are a dedicated espresso lover.