Membership in a gourmet coffee club offers many benefits so discerning coffee drinkers can always have their favorite coffees on hand to brew and enjoy such as:

  • Large selection of specialty coffees from around the world to make coffee drinking a daily sensory experience
  • Freshly roasted to order with a choice of whole bean or ground coffee
  • Reduced costs from on line ordering without having to commute to buy ageing coffee on the shelves
  • Flexibility to make changes, special requests, hold shipments, send gifts, etc.

Gourmet coffee club membership appeals to coffee lovers who want more than the “premium” coffee choices available in the supermarket aisle or at the coffee house or specialty store. Specialty gourmet coffee clubs are very accepted and represent a growing segment of the trade. Let’s review some basics about these clubs and why you should consider joining one.

Specialty coffee is the term given to the top fifteen to twenty per cent in quality of Arabica coffee grown and harvested from select regions worldwide. The term is sometimes used interchangeably with “gourmet” or “premium” coffee. However, according to the Specialty Coffee Association of America, “...specialty coffee refers to coffees made from exceptional beans grown only in ideal coffee-producing climates. They tend to feature distinctive flavors, which are shaped by the unique characteristics of the soil that produces them.”

Many specialty coffee growing countries have associations of growers, companies, and agencies who deal with enhancements for cultivating, exporting, and marketing coffee. Such associations also lead efforts for rural community development (infrastructure, medical, and education), and for working in harmony with the environment. The 560,000 independent coffee grower members of the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia (FNC) is an excellent example.

Nearly all, if not all, specialty gourmet coffee is made from Arabica coffee beans grown at higher altitudes. Select specialty coffee beans are roasted to perfection. The specialty coffee roast master knows the correct degree to roast the different types of beans to bring out their unique characteristics. These freshly roasted coffee beans are immediately packed and shipped to the customer to brew and enjoy.

Gourmet coffee is always prepared with select specialty coffee beans roasted fresh when ordered. The whole beans then are ground to the correct fineness or coarseness for the brewing method used, and brewed with fresh cold water heated to the correct temperature. Gourmet flavored coffees require one additional process before packing can take place.

One of the benefits of a coffee club membership is that top quality specialty coffee beans are roasted fresh after you order them on line. They are packed and shipped the same day they are roasted. Coffee clubs that feature the process of using only hot air to roast the dried, raw (or “green”) coffee beans deliver great coffee each time. The reason is this roasting method, known as convection roasting™, yields uniformly roasted beans for each batch. Master roasters are part scientist and part artist who know the appropriate amount of time to attain the desired roast level to bring out the best characteristics for that varietal or blend. The result, the club member can get the perfect cup of coffee every time.

Gourmet coffee club membership also offers such benefits as:

  • Having the coffee sent automatically each month at the time of month the member chooses
  • Ease of use – no need to enter the order information each time unless making a change
  • Convenience of having your own gourmet coffee when you want it, no more trips to the coffee house or waiting in line for the morning “premium” coffee
  • Cost savings of brewing your own gourmet coffee for about twenty-five cents per cup
  • Information on the best way to grind the coffee for the method used to prepare it
  • The recommended way to store the opened bag of roasted coffee to keep it fresh to completion.

For instance, whole bean Espresso blends should be ground to the powder-like fineness of espresso grind for preparing with an espresso machine. Conventional brewing methods yield great tasting coffee with the medium-fine grind known as automatic drip grind, while coffee prepared with a coffee press (French press) should use the coarsest grind for best results. To keep the coffee beans fresh once the bag is opened, simply press out the air while folding the bag over as many times as needed and secure with a strip of tape (packing or freezer tape). Then, place the bag in an airtight container (a freezer bag will do, if no container is available) and store at normal room temperature until the next time to brew your gourmet coffee.

Each gourmet coffee club member can tell you about other benefits to be enjoyed from the club membership. Those mentioned here should give you the motivation to find a gourmet coffee club and start enjoying your favorite gourmet coffees, freshly roasted and immediately shipped, at your convenience.

It is best to brew coffee using freshly roasted beans. Ideally speaking, use up your beans within a few weeks from receipt and get ready for your next coffee club membership shipment. You could literally look at a wall calendar and plan to drink coffee from Brazil, Jamaica, Colombia, Peru, El Salvador, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Hawaii, Mexico, Java, Sumatra, Papua New Guinea, Tanzania, Kenya, and Celebes, for example, throughout the year. As a family, you could plan group activities to review basic geography, cultural traditions, music and travel information about each of the coffee producing countries. Who knows, you may really like one and decide to plan a fun vacation to that destination?

So, ready to enjoy a cup of Altura Superior specialty coffee from Mexico?

All over the world, people drink coffee from basically one of two types of coffee beans: Arabica beans (“Coffea Arabica”) and Robusta beans (“Coffea Robusta”)

Arabica beans are aromatic, flavorful coffee beans used for gourmet, specialty coffees. The term refers to Coffea Arabica, the taxonomic species named for the genus responsible for about 75% of the world’s commercial coffee crop. Coffea Arabica is a woody perennial evergreen that belongs to same family as Gardenias.

Robusta beans contain twice the caffeine as Arabicas. Robusta beans are somewhat bitter and lack the flavor and aroma of Arabica beans. Robusta beans are used to produce blends, instant and freeze dried coffees.

There are other types of coffee species but they are very rare or non-existent in the export market. As a result, the fact is that we all drink either Arabica or Robusta coffee. Sounds simple, right? Not quite.

There are many “varietals” within Arabica coffee trees which yield coffee beans with distinct flavors and characteristics. This is where the fun begins. To name a few,

ETHIOPIAN COFFEE: Ethiopian Harrar, Sidamo and Yirgacheffe. Each is named after their region of origin and they have very distinct flavor characteristics. For example, Ethiopian Harrar is known for its medium body, earthy flavor, almost no acidity and a very smooth mouth feel. This is a complex coffee with light spicy tones and a fruity flavor that some people compare to the taste of dry red wine. As the ‘birthplace of coffee,” Ethiopia has a unique place in the coffee world.

KENYAN COFFEE: Kenyan AA. This coffee comes from the area surrounding Mount Kenya, a region with fertile red volcanic soil. The coffee is known for its very acidic taste you taste right away in the mouth, and then followed by a medium body with an aftertaste of earthy flavor.

TANZANIAN COFFEE: Tanzanian Peaberry focuses on pea berry instead of traditional coffee beans. Coffee is the dried seed from the fruit of a flowering tree. Each fruit has two seeds facing each other. On the coffee tree, there is a percentage of the fruit that has a single seed or peaberry and the rest will have two flat beans for the usual two (2) seeds per fruit. The single bean peaberry occurs in less than 5% of any crop and is generally considered to produce a more concentrated flavor.

COLOMBIAN COFFEE: major cultivars of Arabica beans include Bourbon, Caturra, Maragogype and Typica. Colombian coffees also include the name of the growing regions such as Cauca, Nariño, Amazonas, Bucaramanga, etc. Colombia accounts for more than a tenth of the world’s entire coffee supply. Colombian Arabica coffee is perhaps the most well-known, partly due to its “living” and successful coffee advertising iconic symbols recognized worldwide, Juan Valdez and Conchita, the mule. The more generic Colombian coffees are rated as Excelso and Supremo. These terms simply refer to the size of the coffee beans, not necessarily to better coffee grades.

COSTA RICAN COFFEE: Costa Rican Tarrazu is a prized Arabica coffee. It is named after the San Marcos de Tarrazu valley, one of the four premium coffee growing districts surrounding the capital city of San Jose. The other varietals include Tres Rios, Heredia and Alajuela. Costa Rican coffees are balanced, clean, with bright acidity featuring citrus or berry-like flavors and hints of chocolate and spice in the finish.

BRAZILIAN COFFEE: Brazil Santos Bourbon comes from the hills of Sào Paulo state in the south-central portion of the country near the port of Santos. Historically, these Arabica coffee plants were brought to the island of Bourbon now known as the Island of Reunion. Brazil Santos Bourbon is a light bodied coffee, with low acidity, a pleasing aroma and a mild, smooth flavor.

INDONESIAN COFFEE: Java is the most famous Arabica varietal from the island of Java. The top grade of Java coffee is cultivated on former Dutch plantations and is called Java Estate. This is a clean, thick, full body coffee with less of the earthy characteristics that other Indonesia coffees feature, such as Sumatra or Sulawesi. The Java coffees provide a smooth complement to the Yemen Mocha which is very intense. The traditional Mocha Java blend is the combination of Java and Yemen Mocha.

SUMATRAN COFFEE: Sumatra Mandheling and Sumatra Lintong. Sumatra Lintong originates in the Lintong district of Sumatra near Lake Toba. This coffee has a medium, bodied coffee, low acid, sweet with a complex and earthy aroma. Sumatra Mandheling has a rich, heavy body, subdued acidity and unique complex flavor. This coffee actually does not originate in the Mandheling region but is named after the Mandailing people in the north of Sumatra.

HAWAIIAN COFFEE: closer to home, in Hawaii, the best known Arabica varietal is Hawaiian Kona coffee. This Arabica bean grows on the slopes of Mount Hualalai and Mauna Loa which makes it not only exclusive to Hawaii but also to the Kona District specifically.

JAMAICAN COFFEE: the Arabica varietal that grows predominantly in the Blue Mountain region of this island is called Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. The Blue Mountains stretch between Kingston and Port Maria in Jamaica. This region enjoys a cool and misty climate. Due to its limited production quantity, Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is expensive.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA COFFEE: located just north of Australia, Papua New Guinea coffee cultivation was started in 1937 using imported seeds from Jamaica’s famous Blue Mountain region. As a result, Papua New Guinea has noticeable similarities to Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. The rich volcanic soil and excellent climate produce a mild and mellow, full-bodied coffee with moderate acidity, broad flavor and very interesting aromatics.

Is this all? No, there are many more varietals, brands, and special flavors of Arabica coffee to try and discover.

For now, what about a cup of Ethiopian Harrar or Papua New Guinea coffee?