Gourmet Coffee Beans – Who Grows the Best Coffee in the World?

Best Coffee in the World – What Country Has It?

Who grows the best coffee in the world? That’s what I wanted to figure out. I knew coffee is tasted like wine, and that there are two types of beans, robusta and Arabica. But that was the extent of my knowledge on coffee.

First, let me get the obvious statement out of the way. To many people, whatever coffee they like to drink is the best coffee in the world to them. It could be what mom or dad put on the pot first thing in the morning, to Folgers, Maxwell House, or whatever is being served.

They have adapted to the taste and that’s what they like to drink. Many people add cream and sugar which takes away from the true taste of the coffee they are drinking. I wonder if that developed from trying their first cup of black coffee which probably was horrible and was of poor quality.

I’m one who always wondered how someone could drink theirs black. Maybe after this research, I’ll find one, try it black and see if there is a change from what my memory bank tells me.

How the Best Coffee in the World is Determined

In starting the research, I went the Specialty Coffee Association of America which oversees the annual “cupping” contest run by the Roasters Guild. What I found on these websites and others was quite interesting.

Briefly, coffee is “cupped” by professionals known as Master Tasters. They sniff and loudly slurp the coffee in an attempt to measure that coffee’s body, sweetness, acidity and flavors. Many coffees have a distinct flavor from the region they come from and some Master Tasters can determine its origin. The competition is a blind competition whereby the origin is unknown until afterward. And up to over one hundred enter this contest.

As I started looking into the cupping champions, I noticed that there were four regions that consistently had award winning coffees. They were Hawaii, Central America, Ethiopia and Kenya and Sumatra in Malaysia.

As I started collecting the data, I noticed that the contest itself had changed. It seemed that prior to 2004, all coffees competed individually. From 2004 thru 2009, coffees were grouped in countries with two winners moving to the next level. Then in 2010 it changed again to best of origin, or in other words best of country.

The Results of Researching the Best Coffee in the World

When I looked at the data, I saw that a Colombian coffee had won in 2010, 2009 and 2008. From 2007, 2006 and 2005 it was a coffee from Panama known as La Esmeralda Geisha. This coffee also came in second in the years 2008, 2009 and 2010 and has set records for the price per pound for green beans.

I could not find a winner for 2004 and one source said they believed they didn’t have a cupping that year. I thought that was strange. So far, it seemed that Panama had a slight edge as the “best coffee in the world”.

When I looked at the 2003 results, which was the last year all coffees entered individually, the clear winner surfaced. It was Panamanian coffee. Lerida Estate, a Panamanian coffee won that year. But it was what else I noticed that sealed it. Coffee from Panama had won the first three spots and five of the top ten out of 100 plus entrants from around the world. Quite a feat (and taste) for that small country known for their canal.

Out of curiosity, I called a coffee wholesaler and asked why they changed their cupping competition three times over the last eight years. She said, “Did you see the results from 2003? The unofficial word is no one wants to compete against Panama”.

Many countries consistently produce very good tasting coffee and this shows up in the cupping contests, however, the country of Panama has earned the honor of having the best coffee in the world.

If you are coffee lover and would like to try what many consider as the best coffee in the world, then I would do a search for coffee from Panama. If your wallet can handle it, try some Esmeralda Geisha. It’s wonderful!

The author, Tom Berker, is an independent writer and lover of gourmet coffee.