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Specialty gourmet coffee is a savory caffeine treat that is a huge step up from the office coffee pot.

Coffee has come a long way in recent years. Not only do supermarkets carry a wide array of traditional ground coffee, but also a wide variety of whole bean, gourmet flavored coffee and other specialty gourmet coffee. In addition, coffee shops and cafes not only offer delicious cups of gourmet coffee, but also roasted coffee beans for purchase. With all of these coffee options, it can be hard to choose the right one for you. Here are a few things to keep in mind when selecting specialty gourmet coffee.

Types of Specialty Gourmet Coffee Beans

There are two basic types of coffee beans: Robusta and Arabica. Most coffee drinkers agree that Arabica beans have a superior flavor and 70 percent of all specialty gourmet coffee is made from the Arabica bean. These beans have a strong, smoky flavor when brewed alone, and they seem to amplify other flavors that are added to them.

Robusta coffee beans, on the other hand, have a slightly bitter taste. They are usually the preferred bean for ground coffees and lower end coffees.

Ground Gourmet Coffee or Whole Bean?

The next big decision is whether to purchase ground gourmet coffee or whole gourmet coffee beans. Gourmet coffee is best purchased in whole bean varieties, and then ground at home. The reason is that once a coffee bean is ground, it is exposed to the air which makes the coffee bean lose its flavor.

Whole coffee beans do get some exposure to air, but because they are not ground they retain more coffee oil which helps to retain their flavor. When purchasing whole coffee beans, do not ground all of the coffee beans at once. Invest in a coffee grinder and grind the beans just before using them.

Gourmet Coffee Beans: Light Dark or Medium

The color of the gourmet coffee beans tells a lot about its flavor and strength. The darkness of the flavor is developed through the roasting process. Although one color of gourmet coffee beans is not superior to others, most people have individual preferences as to which they prefer. Light colored coffee beans are the mildest in flavor. These usually have a bland taste and often taste weak if too much water is added. Interestingly enough, they have a higher caffeine level than darker colored coffees. Dark brown coffee beans have a very strong flavor and are preferred by people who like a rich coffee taste. Then there are the coffees that lie in the middle of light and dark, often called a medium blend. These coffees are often a blend of light and dark and are a great middle ground for most people.

Gourmet Flavored Coffee

There are also many gourmet flavored coffee options in which a flavor such as hazelnut or vanilla is added to the specialty gourmet coffee beans during the roasting process. This gives the coffee a mild flavored taste when brewed. Gourmet flavored coffees are especially popular during the holiday seasons when flavors such as pumpkin, spice and peppermint flavored coffees are available.

These tips will get you on the right track to selecting your perfect gourmet flavored coffee. Think of coffee like you do wine, the best way to learn what you like is to taste a lot of it.