Gourmet coffee in Estonia – just an expression?

Gourmet coffee is a common term among coffee aficionados. But is it measurable? What does it prove? What coffee can be called gourmet coffee? Follow us in another episode of breaking down the standard coffee terms. 

What is gourmet coffee?

Gourmet coffee is an expression that many coffee companies like to use. The word gourmet means something excellent, something of top quality, and is mainly used to describe food or drinks. No wonder everyone wants to call their coffee gourmet coffee. 

But, as there are no scales or rules, every coffee can be called a gourmet coffee, and it’s up to the consumers to determine.

Some coffee heads call any coffee made from 100% Arabica beans a gourmet one, and that’s just plain wrong. 

Gourmet Coffee is also a name of a café in Tallinn, on the edge of Kadriorg Park. One of the best places to enjoy warm summer days while sipping coffee on their terrace. You can even bring your laptop there. But we will make a thorough review about them on the next occasion.

Gourmet coffee in a bag
Photo by Tina Guina on Unsplash

How do you rate a coffee?

So, the term “gourmet” cannot be exactly rated. Luckily, most of the coffee aspects CAN be rated. The first step is to analyse and grade green coffee beans. When classifying green beans, the defects can be primary and secondary.

Primary defects

Primary DefectA number of occurrences that equal to one full defect
Full Black1
Full Sour1
Pod/Cherry1
Large Stones2
Medium Stones5
Large Sticks2
Medium Sticks5
source: coffeeresearch.org

Secondary defects

Secondary DefectsA number of occurrences that equal to one full defect
Parchment2-3
Hull/Husk2-3
Broken/Chipped5
Insect Damage2-5
Partial Black2-3
Partial Sour2-3
Floater5
Shell5
Small Stones1
Small sticks1
Water Damage2-5
source: coffeeresearch.org

Top-quality specialty coffee must not have more than 5 full defects per 300 grams of green beans. No faults, taints, quakers or primary defects. The percentage of moisture must fall in the 9% – 13% range.

When the green (raw) beans are properly graded, the next step is coffee cupping.

Coffee cupping

Coffee cupping is the standard way of grading coffee. It’s a thorough procedure, but we prepared a quick glance.

Small amounts of light-roasted coffee beans are brewed using hot water, coarse grind and nothing more. No filtering, no different brewing methods. Coffee cupping is the best way to truly taste and grade the coffee, as everyone in the world can use the same approach.

Certified graders will evaluate and analyse:

  • Coffee aroma
  • Fragrance
  • Flavour
  • Body
  • Taste
  • Aftertaste
  • Acidity

The results are written, compared, and the coffee beans get their final grade.

Is gourmet coffee better than specialty or premium?

Let’s break some terms and myths right here and right now!

Specialty coffee

Specialty coffee is top of the line. The highest quality standards are implemented through the process, from planting the bean to making your cup of joe. Specialty coffee is usually single-origin or single estate. 

On the 100-point scale, any coffee that scores 80+ is considered Specialty coffee. More precisely:

  • 80 – 84.99 is Very Good 
  • 85 – 89.99 is Excellent
  • 90-100 is Outstanding

Premium coffee

Premium coffee is the second tier on the scale, with a score of 70-79. Does that mean it tastes awful? Far from that. Premium blends still taste more than delicious, especially in the hands of the master roasters. It’s just the fact that Specialty coffee is one level above.

Gourmet coffee

Gourmet coffee is, and you can quote me, nothing but a well-made term for selling.  It is also a smart way to name your beans when they are not a top-tier grade. Can we blame anyone? No, we can not. Who on earth would want to buy a coffee that is labelled perhaps the third-best choice?

But bear with me on this one. Gourmet coffee beans are not necessarily bad beans. The fact that better beans exist should mean next to nothing. There is always a better bean. We just like to call things by their real name. And gourmet coffee is no measure of quality but just a buzzword. 

Gourmet conclusion

As our gourmet readers have seen in this gourmet article, everything can be called gourmet, from chocolate to Rimi pizza, and coffee is no exception. Who can blame the people trying to sell their gourmet beans? Don’t let the marketing efforts of coffee companies fool you, but don’t judge them too harsh, either.

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