Wake Up Smell the Coffee

Coffee is everywhere. It's a staple for morning and many people swear they can't live without it. Whether it's Maxwell House, Folgers, Eight O'Clock or Starbucks, Colombian, Hazelnut or French Roast, coffee is coffee, right? Wrong. Coffee isn't just a drink, it's an experience. And to fully experience coffee, you need to go gourmet. There is a major difference between everyday instant coffee and gourmet coffee, and those who are very sincere about their coffee drinking would agree.

Gourmet coffee hinges on freshness, taste, aroma, and overall experience. Gourmet coffee drinkers drink for pleasure, not for a caffeine fix. You can think of gourmet coffee as the opposite of wine; it doesn't get better with age. Freshness is the key. Try to buy coffee that was roasted less than a week ago.

This, however, is rarely possible. Most coffee on the shelves was roasted up to 3 months ago. The alternative used by many connoisseurs is home grinding. With the purchase of a simple 10 dollar machine, you can buy whole beans and grind them when and as you need them.

This retains the freshness which is so key. After opening a package of whole beans, be sure to freeze them in an air tight container until the next use. The general rule is 2 tablespoons of ground coffee per every 6 ounces of water. This can be adjusted to taste, however.

There are many different companies, roasts, types of beans, and countries that produce coffee beans. All these factors, too, contribute to the taste. Colombian coffee from one company will not taste the same as Colombian coffee from another company. It is up to the drinker to experiment and find their favorite blends and roasts. Usually the darker the bean means a heavier roast, which in turns means a more potent and strong flavor and aroma. An interesting fact: the most expensive coffee in the world costs $300 a pound and is called Kope Luwak.

It is made in Indonesia from beans that have been digested and excreted by a cat-like creature that eats only the ripest coffee beans. The beans ferment in the digestive track of the monkey, giving the coffee its unique flavor and high price. Drink up!.

S. Stammberger is editor of The Gourmet Blog. The Gourmet Blog offers gourmet food recipes, gourmet gift ideas and other gourmet tips.

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