The Top Ten Coffees in the World

by Daniel Harrington on October 15, 2010

Best Gourmet Coffee Revealed

Some would say it is a matter of debate which coffees should be called “The Top Ten Coffees in the World.” Which premium coffees are most deserving of this title is less controversial than one may think, however, as certain coffees have proven themselves consistently over time and may truly be considered to be the best coffees on the planet.

The world’s finest coffees are listed here in no particular order since there is a certain about of personal taste involved. For example, some people preferring the winey and fruity acidity of a Kenyan coffee over the classic balance of a Central American coffee or a Kona coffee. Others do not. Thus we accede to this subjective element and include the top overall coffees taking all of these factors into account.

Here are the world’s Top Ten Coffees:

1) Tanzania Peaberry Coffee

Grown on Mt. Meru and Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania Peaberry coffee is a bright coffee with a medium body and delightful fruit-toned acidity. The taste is deep and rich, often revealing hints of black currant which soften to chocolate and then blend into the coffee’s lingering, sweet finish.

Try a medium roast which provides an aroma that is floral and complex, often exhibiting hints of pineapple, citrus, or coconut. The flavor is delicate, sometimes revealing winey notes and a velvety feeling on the palate.

Tanzania Peaberry coffee beans come from a coffee cherry (fruit) that is comprised of one whole coffee bean instead of the usual two half-beans. Typically less than seven percent of a coffee crop is peaberry.

2) Hawaii Kona Coffee

An Arabica coffee grown at about 2,000 feet above sea level on the fertile slopes of Mauna Loa and Hualalai Volcanoes on the Big Island of Hawaii, Kona coffee is known for its rich yet light and delicate taste with a complex aroma.

Well-balanced with a medium body, it is clean in the cup with a bright and cheerful acidity. Kona coffee often reveals buttery as well as spicy qualities and subtle winey tones with an excellent aromatic finish.

3) Java Arabica Coffee

This wet processed (washed) Arabica coffee is grown on the Indonesian island of Java, and in particular on the Ijen Plateau at elevations around 1,400 meters on the east side in the Ijen volcano complex.

With a somewhat heavy body, Java Arabica is nonetheless lighter than many other Indonesian coffees and also has a lower level of acidity (medium acidity). The flavor is somewhat rustic with a lingering, herbaceous aftertaste. The coffee’s body that is clean and thick with a low-toned richness and earthy qualities, though less earthy than Sulawesi and Sumatra coffees.

The aftertaste of Java Arabica often reveals a smoky or spicy twist and leaves the coffee drinker with a overall sweet impression, supple and smooth. Five large coffee estates established in Java by the Dutch government in the 18th century.

4) Sumatra Lintong Coffee

Exhibiting a medium body and low acidity, Sumatra Lintong is also known for its sweetness and earthy, complex aroma. The coffee is grown in the Lintong region in north central Sumatra near Lake Toba.

5) Sulawesi Toraja Coffee

This multi-dimensional coffee is grown in the southeastern highlands of Sulawesi. Known for its full body and rich, expansive flavor , Sulawesi Toraja coffee is very well balanced and exhibits notes of dark chocolate and ripe fruit. The acidity is low-toned yet vibrant, with less body than a Sumatran coffee though slightly more acidic, and with more earthiness than a typical Java Arabica coffee.

Toraja’s rustic sweetness and muted fruit notes create a deep and brooding taste with a pungent spicy quality similar to finer Sumatran coffees. Toraja coffee is processed using the Giling Basah wet-hull method, which produces chaff-free green coffee beans. For Toraja coffee a dark roast is recommended.

6) Mocha Java Coffee

Perhaps the most famous coffee blend, Mocha Java includes Arabian (Yemen) Mocha coffee and Indonesian Java Arabica coffee, two coffees with complementary characteristics. The Yemen Mocha provides a lively intensity and pleasant wildness which complements the clean and bright smoothness of the Java coffee. The traditional blend of Mocha and Java coffee beans creates a complex and yet well-balanced brewed cup.

See the World’s Best History of Coffee to read about how sailing ships arriving from Java Island arrived in the the great Yemen port of Mocha [Mokha] where the two types of beans became mixed in the wooden hulls of the ships creating the favored blend, a happy accident of history.

7) Ethiopian Harrar Coffee

Spicy, fragrant, and heavy-bodied, Ethiopian Harrar coffee is a wild and exotic dry-processed (natural) Arabica coffee grown in southern Ethiopia at elevations from 4,500 and 6,300 feet above sea level. The dry-processing creates a fruity taste likened to dry, red wine, a power house coffee exhibiting a bold taste that resonates in the cup.

Known for its winey and fruity, floral-toned acidity, Ethiopian Harrar is bright in the cup, even intense with a heady aroma that is rich and pungent, often with notes of blackberries and a lingering finish that may seem slightly fermented with intense notes of jasmine.

Edgy and bold, Ethiopian Harrar displays a complexity of spice tones including cardamom, cinnamon, apricots, blueberry jam, and compote. Some Harrars exhibit tones of very rich, dark chocolate.

8) Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Coffee

Fragrant and spicy, Yirgacheffee coffees are known for their sweet flavor and aroma with a medium to light body. The coffee is wet processed and grown at elevations from 5,800 feet to 6,600 feet above sea level.

Ethiopian Yirgacheffee displays a bright acidity along with an intense, clean flavor and a complexity of floral notes in the aroma, perhaps a hint of toasted coconut, along with a vibrant aftertaste and perhaps a slightly nutty or chocolaty quality. Yirgacheffe coffees are high-toned, floral and citrusy in contrast to the wild and jammy Ethiopian Harrars.

If you prefer your coffee heavy and sweet then choose a medium-dark roast or dark roast, though a medium roast allows the coffee’s delicate qualities to shine and enhance the bright acidity.

9) Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee

Grown in Jamaica’s Blue Mountain District, Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee is often described as sophisticated with a smooth and silky, complex taste, outstanding full body, and ver well balanced. Many have called it the quintessential cup of coffee and it clearly stands among the world’s top gourmet coffees.

Jamaica Blue Mountain is a wet processed (washed) coffee, and its slightly sweet flavor is refined and mild, sometimes almost creamy and with rich hints of chocolate.

The acidity is vibrant and bright, yet very smooth, revealing virtually no bitterness in its overall clean taste. The  aroma of Jamaica Blue Mountain is sparkling and bold exhibiting floral notes as well as nutty and herbal overtones.

Jamaica Blue Mountain peaberry coffee beans – when one whole bean forms in a coffee cherry (fruit) rather than the usual two half-beans, are separated out from the other coffee beans and traditionally used for espresso ,

Named for Jamaican mountain ridge, the Blue Mountain coffee growing region is located south of Port Maria and north of Kingston. To be certified as Jamaica Blue Mountain and not one of the lesser grades the coffee must be grown on the estates at elevations between 3,000 feet and and 5,500 feet above sea level.

Kenya AA Coffee

Clearly one of the world’s finest premium coffees, Kenya AA is grown at more than 6,600 feet above sea level on Kenya’s high plateaus. The AA refers to the biggest screen size in the Kenya coffee grading system with specifications that the beans are just a little more than one-fourth inch in diameter.

Kenya AA coffee beans exhibit a full body and strong, rich taste with a pleasant acidity that some say provides the world’s brightest coffee. The aroma of Kenya AA is fragrant with floral tones while the finish is winey with berry and citrus overtones.

[Yes, we know we said ten, but we couldn’t help ourselves!]

11) Guatemala Antigua Coffee

Grown at elevations more than 4,600 feet above sea level, the grade of coffee beans of Guatemala Antigua is known as Strictly Hard Bean and include the Arabica varietals Catuai (Coffea arabica var. catuai), Caturra (Coffea arabica var. caturra), and Bourbon (Coffea arabica var. bourbon).

An exceptional premium coffee, Antigua exhibits the typical Guatemala coffee qualities of a full body (heavier than the usual Central American coffee) and spicy taste often rich and velvety. The Antigua coffee bean works well with a Dark Roast that creates a pleasing smoky taste in the brewed cup of coffee.

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Sandra reha December 3, 2010 at 1:05 am

I noticed you didn’t,t mention the wonderful kau coffee. Big island…they are winning the top. Raves. ,

pramod March 6, 2011 at 10:52 am

How about Giri Coffee of Chikmagalur, India?

teklu beza March 21, 2011 at 8:18 am

i am gradugated my Bsc. in horticulture and now specialized in coffee . i think this information is good.

Matteo March 22, 2011 at 4:54 am

New York Caffe Extra blend consists of 95% Arabica beans and 5% Jamaica Blue Mountain, the best and most expensive coffee in the world. The beans come from the best origins in Central America with an addition of 5% of the most expensive beans in the world – Jamaica Blue Mountain. That is why New York Espresso Extra has a wonderful aroma, complex nuances, a fine fragrance full of character and a mild chocolaty flavor – a perfect harmony of the full-bodied flavor and all other components. It can be found here:

http://www.blanellcoffee.com/New_York_Caffe_Extra_p/nyc4801.htm

• New York Caffe Extra coffee beans
• 35.2 oz (2.2 lb) bag of whole beans
• Italian espresso coffee imported from Italy

Dortha July 14, 2011 at 12:07 am

Begun, the great internet eductoain has.

bedalgkl July 16, 2011 at 10:57 am

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RC Anderson August 3, 2011 at 4:58 am

Actually Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee is not the most expensive coffee in the world Matteo, it is currently running the same retail price as Kona Coffee. I just bought a 1/2 pound bag of each this morning, both cost me $19 each.

I also just ordered a bag of unroasted Kopi luwak (civet coffee) today for $112 a pound. That is the world’s most expensive and rarest coffee according to Forbes Magazine.

Issa Kamara August 8, 2011 at 7:34 am

Why is Sierra Leone not ranked when we used to be one of the exporters of coffee and cacao?

Kurt Sandberg December 10, 2011 at 8:12 am

I have had all of those coffees mentioned above. Nothing compares to Kona coffee. It is hands down the absolute best! Mild, sweet, and really great to the last drop. I live on the island of Molokai where they grow coffee over here and it is not as good as the Kona coffee. Wish it was, but I only buy and drink the best because I have drank all the rest and they can’t compete with my Kona coffee. I would even trade in my wife for a sack of Kona.

Yair Ganor January 8, 2012 at 3:05 pm

You are doing a wonderful job keep up the good work…

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Julius Yan March 20, 2012 at 11:53 am

Luwuk Coffee from Sulawesi, Indonesia is the best I have tried. It is a good balance of aroma, taste and very light acidity. Like the other gentlemen mentioned, it is expensive. I had a cuppa for about US$20. But it is worth every sip.

Angel Velez April 27, 2012 at 7:10 pm

Cafe Yauco Selecto from Yauco, Puerto Rico is one of the best coffees in the world. It is sad not to see our coffee in the top 10. The coffee sells for $18.99 for 10 oz. I hope you can try it.

Ciurlino Luis Alexander May 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Sono alla ricerca di aziende che importano caffe’ per prossiama apertura torrefazione artigianale nelle Marche.

Tommy Nick June 8, 2012 at 8:36 am

There are so many distinctions on the beans and the different roasts. I admire the individual who can distinguish these subtle differences. Are there really those who can attune their taste buds to these subtle variables? I am in awe of this attribute. It is a talent akin to a wine taster and perfume expert. Amazing !
Just wondering: Where does the Viet Nam Arabica coffee rate in this comparison ?
They are the 2nd leading exporter in the world now.

John Abbott June 22, 2012 at 5:13 am

Clearly this is a list put together by amateurs. It still shows Jamaican Blue Mountain in the top 40. They live on reputation alone. Also you have missed one of the most noteworthy coffee on the planet. The Isle of St. Helena Napoleon Estate has triumphed over literally all of the list. If you are new to coffee you may never have heard. And once you find the coffee vendor you will gasp at the price and the limited yields. Japan gourmets have bought up most of the stock.

Also woefully missing are any of the Cup of Excellence winners from Central and South America. Your limited exposure to the coffee world is so very apparent in your list.

Harvey July 11, 2012 at 9:31 am

What do you think of the coffee from Nepal

Apurva Muddappa July 17, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Check out deckancoffee.com for some of the finest indian coffee for the Giri Estates in India. Coffee comes from a single farm. High quality coffee, they also carry a blend with chicory, which is Mysore Coffee, Tiger label

ken July 30, 2012 at 2:28 pm

best coffee in the world is coffee barako (liberica) of batangas philippines

Douglas August 3, 2012 at 3:35 am

You have not tasted Goaltake Eastern Natural Coffee. Your ranking is ???

Jersson Palacios August 13, 2012 at 4:08 pm

How about Coffe from Coatepec, Veracruz, México.

Bulent August 17, 2012 at 9:32 pm

The best Coffee is not where comes , the important thing is to know

how roasting , which select the beans , arabica ,robusta how is the mix ?? The Brand Name or which country is doesnt important

and second , choice the Coffee Machine ,
i recommend Semi Automatic Coffee Maker brand Name doesnt important

and last important things is Water Quality , Water + Lime+ 90-92 C + Pump Presure 9.5 Bar is enough to make a super quality Coffee..

El October 31, 2012 at 12:24 am

Mmmmm, I think I am in heaven, people who think about coffee like I do …..

Kona is my regular, I love Jamaican Blue Mountain, last I knew was 58/lb from the island, try to get at least once a year. And now must try this Kopi luwak (civet coffee) sounds “amazing”

George Yost November 18, 2012 at 6:22 am

I have to agree with John Abbott, no one here mentions Panama Gashai. Kenya is only good if it is AA, and Tansania is only good as a “C” of peaberry. All coffees have peaberry and AA 18+ screen size. Many times a higher price is just a higher price.

civet coffee is an average coffee that is eaten by a cat that loves the taste of the cherry. Later the cat expells the seed in its fecies. Someone follows the civit and takes the seeds out of the steaming pile, and sells it to you for $100 per LB. How could that trip through a cats digestive track actually improve the taste of coffee?

What makes coffee great is careful grading and cupping to find the very best in a region. If we are just grading regions, how can Kenya be anywhere but the top of the list??

Bleufinder December 31, 2012 at 5:39 am

Like the wines… the best coffee is the one that you like it.
It doesn’t matter how expensive is it …what really matter is the way you prepare a cup of coffee with your personal selection of coffee beans.

Arron December 31, 2012 at 7:27 am

I can only assume the Cuban embargo is still preventing the real Cuban coffee from reaching your shores. I have tried all of the above and a good REAL Cuban is a) unmistakeable and b) easily the best available in moderate / commercial quantities. Individual farm micro lots may be better again. The Kenya AA or just maybe the Sulawesi is probably the only ones listed here in the same postcode zone. What about the Nicaraguan? Even an idiot can get a good cup out of it. Oh for the 1960’s blue mountain – that would have given the Cuban a good run. The current Blue Mountain is sadly quite a pale shadow…

Toni January 14, 2013 at 10:57 am

How about Barbera Italian coffee? Its existence since 1870 is known nowadays in 50 countries. I love it!

Odeyemi Adesuyi March 10, 2013 at 7:15 pm

What about NIGERIA coffee.

J Damien April 20, 2013 at 8:31 pm

Rwanda also has a perfect range of altitudes of over 1000m making it suitable to produce spectacular quality Arabica coffee; like one of its variety called Bourbon Mayaguez. Rwanda several Coffee bean washing stations with clean and quality coffee sorting method eg. Maraba coffee.

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