When considering the best coffees in the world, I went to the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) for research. They are the organization that sets the quality standards for specialty coffee, which the public calls “gourmet” coffee. All specialty coffees use arabica beans. The other category of is the robusta bean, which is of inferior taste quality to arabica. Within these categories, there are several varieties of bean. Arabica beans are grown at a higher altitude than robusta.

Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world and is graded in a similar manner as wine. This event is called a “cupping” and has a set of strict standards. Winning a cupping is very prestigious and has a direct effect on the prices a coffee grower can get for his crop.

History of these “cupping” winners has shown that three areas of the world produce the most winners. Interestingly, these regions have a very similar latitude when looking at the world map. The three regions are Ethiopia, Sumatra and Panama.

Ethiopian/Kenyan Coffee (Africa)

Ethiopian coffee is aromatic, highly flavorful, and also known to be some of the best coffees in the world. It is also the origin of all coffee. The Ethiopian people have a legend that says that a goat herder discovered Ethiopian coffee around 850 AD. This legend claims that the goat herder noticed that his sheep were very excited and nearly dancing after eating red berries from a tree. The legend of the founder goes on to say that the herder sampled the red berries for himself and took some of the berries home to his wife who insisted that he take them to the monks. The monks supposedly threw the berries into a fire and noticed the delicious smell that the berries produced. The monks are said to have removed the berries from the fire and boiled the berries in water to create the beverage that we now know as Ethiopian coffee.

Whether this legend is true, or in fact just a legend is forever a mystery. Regardless, Ethiopian coffee has been used for religious ceremonies. These ceremonies are still held today and if a guest is invited to participate in the ceremony, it is well known to be a very beautiful experience.

Locally, Ethiopian coffee is served with either sugar, or in some parts of Ethiopia, salt. Milk or any type of creamer is never used in traditionally brewing. The process of making the coffee varies by region. In some regions it is dry processed and in some other regions it is washed. The Ethiopian coffee found in stores today is dry processed.

The process is often grueling and coupled with with importing adds to the reason of why Ethiopian coffee can be expensive.

When consumers purchase Ethiopian coffee to be brewed at home, it is wise to consider fair trade Ethiopian coffee. The obvious reason to consider fair trade is so that the producers of this wonderful product can reap the benefits of their hard work. Ethiopian coffee has a rich, bold, and exciting history and a taste that has been favored by many people for a long time.

Sumatran Coffee (Indonesia)

Sumatran coffee comes from the island in Indonesia called Sumatra. The taste of Sumatran coffee is spicy, herbal, and very distinct. It is considered to be one of the best coffees in the world and was first introduced by the Dutch around 1699 when the Dutch wanted to keep up with the demand of coffee to Europe. The Dutch traders knew the difference between Sumatran coffee beans and other coffee beans by the appearance, which are irregularly shaped and bright green.

Sumatran coffee is one of the best coffees in the world and has a low acidity which makes it highly favored among other types of coffee. The beans are usually grown in full sunlight and with no chemicals. A highly popular type of Sumatran coffee, yet thoroughly disgusting in many peoples opinion, is the kopi luwak Sumatran coffee. The kopi luwak coffee is coffee beans that have been eaten by the small animal known as a luwak. After the luwak digests and excretes the coffee beans, local villagers collect the excreted beans and roast them. These excreted and roasted beans are said to cost about $300 a pound. Of course, not all of Sumatran coffee comes from the excrement of the luwak. There are many other varieties of Sumatran coffee as well.

Most of the Sumatran coffee beans are processed using the wet and dry processing method. This processing method is another reason why Sumatran coffee is so popular. Most other types of coffee beans are processed by using either a wet method or a dry method, hardly ever both.

When purchasing Sumatran coffee for use at home, a person should try to purchase fair trade Sumatran coffee. Fair trade beans can be found at various online retailers and also at gourmet coffee retailers. This insures that the growers benefit from all of the hard work that they put into growing this delicious coffee.

Seattle; the home of Boeing, software giants, grunge music and…specialty coffee. Well, not quite. Contrary to popular belief, while Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Boeing and Oracle do indeed hail from the Pacific Northwest, modern specialty coffee has its roots much further south.

When Alfred Peet died in his sleep a few weeks ago he was a sprightly 87. He passed away peacefully hopefully dreaming of coffee trees laden with ripened cherries. While most people have never heard of him, Peet is widely recognised as being the father of modern “specialty coffee” in the industry. He was a Dutchman who became an American. He had traded tea for Lipton’s in Java, lived in Sumatra, worked in the business in New Zealand before, finally, settling down (somewhat) in the University suburb of Berkeley, California. It was at Berkeley where he founded his roastery in 1966 and Peet’s Coffee was born. Alfred Peet was passionate about coffee. His roasting exploits legendary and his ability to commentate, roast and put out fires simultaneously are famous. His experiences while living in Indonesia had given him an affinity with farmers who grew coffee, as well as a thorough understanding of the origin, the place where coffee was grown. This background, combined with his love of roasting, resulted in a place where coffee was not just a cup of Java, but something exotic, living and with a story.

From Alfred Peet’s inspirational example came many of the coffee cultures that now are household names today in America and around the world- Starbucks being the most famous of these of course. The original founders of Starbucks- Baldwin, Bowker and Ziv Seigel originally leant their roasting trade from Peet, in fact Peet roasted for them in their early years. Many others in the industry in America today also passed through the Peet’s Coffee experience. In fact when Howard Schulz purchased Starbucks, Bowker and Baldwin moved across and purchased Peets Coffee- Alfred Peet retiring to a role of Coffee Mentor for the Industry as a whole.

Today most coffee drinkers, from Surabaya to San Francisco, recognise Starbucks and its logo, but the name “Alfred Peet” often draws draws blank looks.

Specialty Coffee today is at a crossroad- an important junction in deciding which direction coffee will be heading over the next decade. In the last 10 years many new comers have entered the business. It is estimated that the global coffee sector today is valued at over US$80 billion. It is no wonder that with these revenue numbers, the industry attracts a mix of business people with mixed agendas- who often see the potential bottom line rather than education and passion as being the driving force in what they do. Traditionally the specialty coffee industry has been built on the strong foundation of sharing knowledge and experience- with the supposition that by helping each other the industry will be strongly quality focused. However a number of the more recent arrivals in the market are perhaps choosing coffee for the perceived easy profits, rather than for a real passion for coffee or its heritage. As a result many of the traditional methods of exchange are not as effective, or used as frequently as they have been in the past.

Globally Coffee is in a position where consumption is beginning to slow down and opportunities to grow coffee are becoming more difficult to find in the traditional coffee consuming markets- Europe, USA, South America and Oceania. The easy answer if to look at new emerging markets- China, India, Pakistan and Indonesia are prime targets. These countries either have low coffee consumption (Indonesian’s, for instance, consume 500gm per person per year vs. Norway’s 12kg per person per year), or have reasonable consumption, but historically are tea consumers (India). The new markets are also very suggestible to western branding- in many cases the strength of branding has been shown to be more important than the product itself. This presents a number of opportunities to strong western brands and of course new local brands to emerge. However it does not necessarily equate to long-term longevity of specialty coffee in these new frontiers.

In the more mature markets, the patterns of consumption have changed markedly over the last 15-20 years. The traditional, lower quality coffee products such as instants, are being replaced by roast and ground coffee (drips, plungers etc) and of course Espresso Based Drinks (cappuccino, latte, espresso etc). Fresh roasted coffee has many advantages over the instant coffee. It is more flavoursome and more importantly has a greater link back to where it originally came from. This means that customer awareness is also on the increase- bringing into the spotlight the actual paper trail of where the coffee comes from, who picked it, what price the grower get from it etc. To consumers in countries such as New Zealand this is very important- as generally there is a linkage between quality of coffee and the return the farmer or grower gets. The correlation is the better the return to a farmers, the better the coffee will be. Higher returns means more time can be spent in the origin country looking after the crop, pruning, selective harvesting, proper intensive drying and packing/storing the coffee once it is dried.

The role the specialty coffee industry plays in all this is very important. Retail shops that source and supply only the best coffee help to sustain the industry both upstream and downstream. This means the farmers and workers will be rewarded and the consumers will have access to quality coffee, hopefully growing the business further.

Unfortunately the reverse is gradually becoming more often the norm. Cafes, coffee shops and roasters entering the market all over the world tend to look for short-term cost advantages to try and fuel their business models. To achieve this they either buy poor quality coffee, as cheap as possible or average quality coffee…likewise as cheaply as possible. Cheap coffee equates to, at the best, very average finished product. This in turn means generally a poor perception of the place selling the coffee. This would perhaps be OK if there were not so many cafes now selling poor quality coffee. As it is it means that poor quality coffee is often accepted a being the norm- hence having the result of putting people off drinking coffee.

In many ways the industry can be seen as having come almost full circle back to where it was in the early 1970’s when instant coffee and coffee sitting on hotplates for 10 hours were seen and accepted as being normal coffee. This is what pioneers like Peet worked so hard to change. It is also why the crossroads the industry now stands at are so important.

The choices are really quite simple. For coffee to evolve and grow further there needs to be education of the retailer and the customer. The global industry is built around national organisations that play a varying role in providing advice and education to those in retail or wholesale. The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) and the SCAE (Specialty Coffee Association of Europe) are two such organisations. However to become members of these organisations is as simple as filling out a form and paying a fee. Often the motivation of the people joining is just to get a sticker to put on their shop door, knowledge is a secondary motivator. There is talk that membership should involve some form of basic enter test and then continuing education via the internet- which would at least help to provide tools to pass information on to those drinking the coffee.

Looking at those in the industry who do things well, is also a great way of building and planning the future for specialty coffee. In the USA quality roasters and café operators such as Allegro, Blackstump Coffee and Intelligensia have taken industry standards to a new level. Buying quality coffee, hiring quality staff and imparting quality knowledge to customers buying their morning coffee has proven very successful for these companies. So much so that it is an unquestionable part of their corporate culture. All of these companies also practice something unique- they regularly visit their growers in countries such as Indonesia, Guatemala, Kenya, Brazil and Colombia. To take this one step further, they do not just visit and spend a few nights- taking photos of a grower’s coffee trees, they maintain regular contact with those growing the coffee. This approach must be seen as the future for coffee in competitive, quality driven markets. It is true relationship coffee where the roaster becomes by default part of the farmers extended family.

Passing knowledge on to those who buy a coffee everyday, and arming them with information on what type of coffee they drink, how it is grown, who grows it, when it is picked, how it gets to them gives all power to the customer. It is a very important, yet lagging piece of the future of coffee globally. Being able to learn the differences in tastes/cupping qualities has some snob quality, but more importantly it helps the buyer to differentiate between good, average and poor coffee. Here lies the problem. A successful café founded on the principles of sustainability and true coffee culture has nothing to fear from education. A café selling poor quality coffee is unlikely, or perhaps unable, to want to educate clients about quality.

A failure to address quality, education and sustainability in the business sector (from the farmer to the retail customer) will ultimately result in consumption patterns falling further. Quality issues- especially over the counter and in the cup, need to be addressed. If not unfortunately those to suffer will be the grower or origin country, rather than the retailer. With current economics a grower in Indonesia receives only around 2-5% of the cost of the average cup sold in America or Europe. If demand drops off, the Arabica business ultimately will fall back into a cycle of commodity pricing rather than specialty pricing that many quality origins now enjoy. Competition from other beverages, and lifestyle choices, compete with the disposable income that coffee comes from.

If Alfred Peet was still alive, undoubtedly he would just carry on doing what he did well and loved, roasting coffee and sharing his knowledge and experience with anyone willing, and wanting to learn and listen- a model to all of us in the industry today.

© Alun H.G Evans, Merdeka Coffee, 2007. The writer reserves all moral rights to this article. May only be reproduced.

Growing Coffee- Explaining All About the Rearing Of Coffee Coffee is a favorite drink of millions of people around the globe. Many of us wake up to the invigorating taste of espresso at morning. Indeed, this is a great way to start the day. The ardent coffee lovers simply can’t miss their coffee drink at various times of the day- during breaks in between work. A cup of piping hot coffee not only awakens us but also helps keep us energetic throughout the day.

Coffee drinks of all types, be it plain coffee or espresso or latte or cappuccino or some other specialty coffee beverage, are prepared from the beans of the coffee plant. The coffee plants, the seeds (beans) of which yield coffee, are grown on a large scale in various parts of the world. Over seventy countries from Indonesia to Brazil cultivate coffee. Usually, the regions of the world that lie between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer are the suitable coffee growing areas. The coffee growing belt includes the region around the Equator- Central America, Northern South America, Africa, India, Indonesia, the Middle East and the Hawaii.

Cultivation of varieties of the coffee plant The coffee plant is a small and evergreen tree. Cultivation of coffee takes place in plantations. This involves a labor intensive process that depends more on farming. That is why the cultivation of coffee is more suited for the developing nations lying in and around the equatorial regions.

Important commercially grown varieties of coffee are the Arabica and the Robusta. The Arabica coffee beans approximately make up seventy percent of the total coffee produced while the Robusta coffee beans make up the rest. The Arabica is usually looked upon as the best coffee. However, there can be a range (from excellent to poor) with regards to the quality of the Arabica coffees. That is the reason why Robusta beans may be preferred over Arabica beans in some cases. Finally, of course, it is expert opinion that is needed to decide what would be the right beans that would go into your coffee makers and espresso machines to produce the perfect espresso, latte and cappuccino coffee beverages.

Some coffee growing facts

  • The equatorial climate best suits coffee cultivation. Temperature range of 15-24 degrees Celsius without severe fluctuations is ideal for coffee.
  • It is the well drained, well aerated and deep soils that are the right field soils for coffee growing. The coffee plants need a large supply of oxygen for their root systems. This is why aerated soils are especially suitable for coffee growing purpose.
  • Rainfall required is in the range of 1500mm to 2000 mm annually. If the annual rainfall of the coffee growing region lies below this then the deficit has to be taken care of by providing for irrigation means.
  • The superior coffee varieties are better cultivated at higher altitudes (over 3000 ft) where there is an abundance of mist and cloud. With oxygen content in the air at the higher altitudes being less the coffee plants take longer to mature thus helping in development of better flavor in the beans (seeds) lying within its fruits (cherries or berries). The diffuse light produced by mists and moderate winds blowing at the altitudes prove to be advantageous in promoting the desirable developments in the coffee.
  • The Robusta or Coffee Canephora that produces the majority of coffee grown at lower altitudes is also considered to be more resistant to diseases of the coffee crop. However, it is the Coffee Arabica growing at higher elevations that are valued for preparing a befitting gourmet coffee drink.

The coffee growing process It might be difficult to imagine that the espresso, latte, cappuccino or other special coffee drink that may be dispensed piping hot from coffee makers [http://www.finest-coffee-makers.com] or espresso machines have been sourced from the coffee plant that has gone throwing a number of stages of the coffee growing process. Indeed, the process of coffee growing involves an intensive farming process.

Propagation of the coffee plant is by using of seeds or cuttings. These are planted in special nursery beds. When the seedlings become between 8 and 12 months old they are transplanted to fields. Here, in the fields, the cuttings or seedlings are planted in wet, fertilized holes.

The coffee trees require constant special care especially the younger ones. The exact right amount of shaded sunlight (or diffuse light) needs to be ensured as also regular watering and fertilizing. Protection from pests and weeds also need to be provided.

Upon planting the coffee tree takes around five years to mature and produce the first crop. The trees with broad, dark green leaves bear flowers that resemble the jasmine. These coffee flowers blossom over a six to eight week period and the blossom to harvest period may extend to some nine months or so depending on a number of environmental and other factors. Ripening of the red coffee fruits (or cherries or berries, as they are also called) takes place within 6 to 8 months after the tree begins to bear fruit. Regular harvesting needs to be carried out since the coffee fruits become over ripe after some 10 to 14 days. Hand plucking is usually resorted to as it is convenient and best suited for plucking in the mountainous regions as opposed to mechanical harvesters.

Though it might seem astonishing yet it is true that a single tree upon cropping can produce sufficient beans only for about two pounds or a kilogram of coffee. This has been estimated to be produced making use of around 2000 coffee beans. These beans are hand picked by manual laborers. The harvesting of the coffee beans may also require quite a bit of skill as the picker needs to learn up to opt for only the best beans and discard the bad beans while picking. Attention needs to be provided to every individual bean in the bean by bean picking harvesting process.

Immediately after harvesting the processing of the selected coffee seeds or beans needs to be commenced. This is to ensure that the pulp does not get deteriorated. The coffee beans processing process involving drying and roasting finally makes ready the coffee that is to be freshly ground to be entered into your home coffee makers [http://www.finest-coffee-makers.com/index.html] or espresso maker. Thus is finally delivered for you the cupfuls of perfectly flavored, delectable espresso, latte, cappuccino or other favorite coffee drinks.

INDONESIA known as a coffee-producing country. Indonesia also has a world-famous coffee. Why Indonesia known users of low quality coffee?

“Coffee in Indonesia using only copies of the lowest quality. Taken caffeine and coffee just the aroma alone to make instant coffee,” said Ronald Prasanto, during a visit to the editorial Okezone in highend Building, Jalan Kebon Sirih, Jakarta, recently.

Men who cultivate coffee in the field of molecular gastronomy is added, custom Indonesian who consume instant coffee is very unfortunate. In fact, the best coffee of Indonesia, such as Arabica, Robusta, and even civet coffee is exported to foreign countries.

With the techniques of molecular gastronomy, Ronald wanted to raise Indonesia’s coffee with a style that he has. In particular, to introduce to the world, if in Indonesia there are techniques of molecular gastronomy and can be applied to the original culinary Indonesia, particularly coffee.

For that, now Ronald with his fellow coffee lovers often meet and share information about coffee. He regretted that even if the school of hospitality and tourism in Indonesia only a few include curriculum about coffee.

“My sister is a school of hospitality school can be a lesson in coffee just two pieces, but I myself need to spend a couple of books,” he said.

In fact, in his experience, a hotel manager alone can not necessarily define specifications with cappucino coffee latte.

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When considering the best coffees in the world, I went to the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) for research. They are the organization that sets the quality standards for specialty coffee, which the public calls “gourmet” coffee. All specialty coffees use arabica beans. The other category of is the robusta bean, which is of inferior taste quality to arabica. Within these categories, there are several varieties of bean. Arabica beans are grown at a higher altitude than robusta.

Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world and is graded in a similar manner as wine. This event is called a “cupping” and has a set of strict standards. Winning a cupping is very prestigious and has a direct effect on the prices a coffee grower can get for his crop.

History of these “cupping” winners has shown that three areas of the world produce the most winners. Interestingly, these regions have a very similar latitude when looking at the world map. The three regions are Ethiopia, Sumatra and Panama.

Ethiopian/Kenyan Coffee (Africa)

Ethiopian coffee is aromatic, highly flavorful, and also known to be some of the best coffees in the world. It is also the origin of all coffee. The Ethiopian people have a legend that says that a goat herder discovered Ethiopian coffee around 850 AD. This legend claims that the goat herder noticed that his sheep were very excited and nearly dancing after eating red berries from a tree. The legend of the founder goes on to say that the herder sampled the red berries for himself and took some of the berries home to his wife who insisted that he take them to the monks. The monks supposedly threw the berries into a fire and noticed the delicious smell that the berries produced. The monks are said to have removed the berries from the fire and boiled the berries in water to create the beverage that we now know as Ethiopian coffee.

Whether this legend is true, or in fact just a legend is forever a mystery. Regardless, Ethiopian coffee has been used for religious ceremonies. These ceremonies are still held today and if a guest is invited to participate in the ceremony, it is well known to be a very beautiful experience.

Locally, Ethiopian coffee is served with either sugar, or in some parts of Ethiopia, salt. Milk or any type of creamer is never used in traditionally brewing. The process of making the coffee varies by region. In some regions it is dry processed and in some other regions it is washed. The Ethiopian coffee found in stores today is dry processed.

The process is often grueling and coupled with with importing adds to the reason of why Ethiopian coffee can be expensive.

When consumers purchase Ethiopian coffee to be brewed at home, it is wise to consider fair trade Ethiopian coffee. The obvious reason to consider fair trade is so that the producers of this wonderful product can reap the benefits of their hard work. Ethiopian coffee has a rich, bold, and exciting history and a taste that has been favored by many people for a long time.

Sumatran Coffee (Indonesia)

Sumatran coffee comes from the island in Indonesia called Sumatra. The taste of Sumatran coffee is spicy, herbal, and very distinct. It is considered to be one of the best coffees in the world and was first introduced by the Dutch around 1699 when the Dutch wanted to keep up with the demand of coffee to Europe. The Dutch traders knew the difference between Sumatran coffee beans and other coffee beans by the appearance, which are irregularly shaped and bright green.

Sumatran coffee is one of the best coffees in the world and has a low acidity which makes it highly favored among other types of coffee. The beans are usually grown in full sunlight and with no chemicals. A highly popular type of Sumatran coffee, yet thoroughly disgusting in many peoples opinion, is the kopi luwak Sumatran coffee. The kopi luwak coffee is coffee beans that have been eaten by the small animal known as a luwak. After the luwak digests and excretes the coffee beans, local villagers collect the excreted beans and roast them. These excreted and roasted beans are said to cost about $300 a pound. Of course, not all of Sumatran coffee comes from the excrement of the luwak. There are many other varieties of Sumatran coffee as well.

Most of the Sumatran coffee beans are processed using the wet and dry processing method. This processing method is another reason why Sumatran coffee is so popular. Most other types of coffee beans are processed by using either a wet method or a dry method, hardly ever both.

When purchasing Sumatran coffee for use at home, a person should try to purchase fair trade Sumatran coffee. Fair trade beans can be found at various online retailers and also at gourmet coffee retailers. This insures that the growers benefit from all of the hard work that they put into growing this delicious coffee.

Sumatran coffee has a taste unlike any other and once you try it for yourself, you may find that it will quickly replace your current brand or at least be a coffee that becomes one of your favorites.

Panamanian Coffee (Central America)

Although Panama is the smallest of all coffee producing countries, they grow most of the best rated coffees every year. The coffee region surrounds the town of Boquete in the western province of Chiriqui close to the Costa Rican border. Some say Panama has the ideal micro climate to grow coffee receiving winds from the north along with a light mist and cool breeze. Most of the coffee is grown on farms and is called an Estate coffee which signifies the farm it is from.

The process includes hand picking, washing and sun drying. The farms work closely with the indigenous people enhancing the community with social, medical and educational services. Because of this, fair trade is not a concern. It is a harmonious relationship between farm and worker.

For years, coffee from Panama was not well known amongst the public but the quality was apparent to the traders. So much so, that one trader was caught selling the lower cost Panamanian coffee beans as Hawaiian Kona beans, a much well known high end arabica bean.

Currently, Panamanian coffee has come of age winning numerous cuppings to the point in 2003 when the competition was changed. Previously, each entry was individual and Panamanian entrants would win up to five of ten awards. Now, they have groupings and each group can produce up to two winners that move up to the next level.

It should be noted that although Panamanian coffee has been established as the best in the region, wonderful coffees do come from Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Columbia.

Even though most of the world favors the western coffees, a true coffee lover should be adventurous and taste the best coffees of the world. Try Ethiopian and Sumatran coffees along with those that are in close proximity to those regions. You may be surprised at what you have been missing.