In this article we take a look at the 15 best gourmet coffee brands in the world. Click to skip ahead and jump to the 10 best gourmet coffee brands in the world.
Coffee has evolved beyond being just a beverage and has grown into a subculture in the recent past. People are eager to look beyond coffee as just their daily caffeine fix and looking for the best gourmet coffee brands in the world instead of their usual go-to instant variety. Getting your coffee is no longer a ritual of getting up in the morning and pouring out the contents of your premix sachet for an instant caffeine boost but instead has become the weekend activity of grinding your own coffee beans and enjoying it as a culinary experience. Coffee enthusiasts are eager to look into the origins of the coffee they are purchasing and their specialty.
The global coffee market, however, is still strong. The global coffee market has been projected to grow to a striking USD 574.6million by 2025. Even though a global subculture and café lifestyle has given a boost to independent roasters and specialty coffee makers the coffee business still has a large worldwide market. Chain coffee stores have a huge share in the market. Starbucks has over 13,000 outlets in the US, while Europe’s Costa Coffee has over 2,755 coffee shops across the region. The chain store market is made up of strong brands and big players that are very hard to displace.
However, predictions of the global market growth of 4.22% CAGR in the period of 2020-2025 might have been overthrown due to the recent Covid crisis. Coffee exports across the world fell by 7.5% to 10.04 million bags as opposed to the same period last year. The coffee shop culture has been successfully dampened, and it is hard to tell when people will be returning to cafes as a leisure time activity. With work from home becoming the norm, people are also missing out on their ritualistic stops to local cafes on their way to work. All of it has resulted in a significant decrease in demand for coffee in the world market. This trend is benefitting companies like The J. M. Smucker Company (NYSE:SJM) which bought the Folgers coffee brand from Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) for nearly $3 billion back in 2008. SJM owns iconic and emerging brands like Folgers®, Dunkin’ ®, Café Bustelo® and 1850® .
According to the Coffee Market Report by International Coffee Organization, consumption worldwide is likely to decrease by 0.5% to 167.81 million bags as the pandemic progresses and out-of-home coffee consumption continues to decline, since restaurants and coffee shops are the major demand generators for coffee beans.
Big brands out of the top 20 coffee brands in the world like Dunkin Brands Group (NASDAQ: DNKN), are said to have already lost a significant amount of footfall in their breakfast hours. This has also prompted bigger brands to reposition and try out alternative formats. While supermarkets have been promoting coffee making kits that can enable consumers to recreate their favorite Starbucks coffee at home, Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) has also been experimenting the shift to a “pick-up” coffee stop destination, shifting from its usual coffee at store format.
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Making your own coffee at home is a trend that has also been fueled by internet sensations like the "Dalgona Coffee". The extra creamy Korean coffee had everybody spend some part of their lockdown into whipping up coffee videos on the internet in hopes of going viral. But, the growing tastes for specialty coffee still remains a highlighted category. This growing category, might be impacted by the recession and lower demands for premium high priced coffees, but it is still significantly trending, a curve that is not expected to flatten out soon.
So what is gourmet coffee? The industry is currently experiencing the “third wave of coffee” which is the gradual shift of consumer taste from premium coffee shop coffee to premiumization of coffee at every stage of the supply chain. It is the total package of high-quality specialty roasts, procured from the best beans from specific regions and being brewed to perfection. Regardless to say there is a lot of attention that is being poured into crafting the best coffees in the third-wave, and the rise of the more informed consumer. Third-wave coffee really turns coffee into an experience and a lifestyle and it will be interesting to see how this next stage in the evolution of coffee unfolds. The catching on trend has sparked a new segment of coffee makers, that is, independent brands and roasters who are focused on crafting the best roasts for connoisseurs.
The other aspect of specialty coffees that determines their grading is how sustainable they are. The specialty coffee industry is often measured upon its sustainable practices as the coffee industry has traditionally been infamous for unsustainable practices like unfair practices and low wages, and heavy climate impacts. The coffee plantation industry, on the other hand, is also an industry heavily dependent on the climate for its sustenance. Arabica coffees, for instance, require specific temperatures to thrive in. Coffee houses are therefore trying to promote sustainable practices focused on improvement of producer livelihoods, fair trade and protection of environment and biodiversity, to produce higher quality artisanal coffees. Since the specialty coffee business format involves direct trade where the roasters are in direct contact with coffee farmers, it potentially eliminates middlemen and can be used to promote fairer wages and a healthier ecosystem. There are certain certification standards like the s Fair Trade, Organic, and UTZ, that informs the consumers of how sustainably sourced their coffees are. There is also the Direct Label sustainability label that was developed by US-based specialty coffee roasters which specifies that coffees are sourced and purchased directly from farmers. This involves regular farm visits and collaborations with farmers on developing higher quality beans and is often associated with incentives and price premiums to farmers. The specialty coffee segment provides these farmers the opportunities to better market their products in a more stable market and for higher prices. The DT label was developed by roasters themselves and therefore is a “supply-driven” standard as opposed to individual firms' self-certification schemes like Nestles AAA certification or Starbucks’ C.A.F.E. Standards. Being an industry wide label, it has the benefit of familiarity among the consumers of specialty coffee and is helpful to small roasters who can reap the benefits by getting labelled. The DT label has been well analyzed in Coffee Roasters’ Sustainable Sourcing Decisions and Use of the Direct Trade Label Study by the Michigan State University Sustainability Department.
The specialty coffee segment has been steadily growing and slowly becoming a rage in several countries. In the US specialty coffee market share has increased from 1% to 25% in 20 years, and specialty coffee drinkers have increased from 9% to 34% in 10 years. The growing consumer awareness has caused this boom for gourmet coffees. There is now a section of “serious” coffee lovers who care about their coffee being of superior quality and sustainably sourced in terms of environment, equity, and fair wages.
Specialty coffees are therefore graded based on different criteria through tastings or “cuppings” by coffee masters. Some of the criteria considered are lack of shortcomings, sweetness, acidity, balance, aroma and flavor. It is also based on its sustainable practices. Only if coffees blends are rated highly on these factors can they be qualified to be called “specialty coffees”. Therefore, to form our ratings of the best gourmet coffee brands in the world, we have considered coffee scores by Coffee Review. The best brands have been selected on the basis of the highest rated blends, and simultaneously the number of highly rated blends of each of the brands reviewed. We have also considered other recommendations by Ravereviews and Coffee Chronicler and added points accordingly to the gourmet coffee brands that are most recommended. That brings us to the list of the most flavorful coffee brands that are known for their perfect blends.
Here’s the list!
15. Small Eyes Café
Move aside bubble tea, Taiwan might be the up and coming destination for gourmet coffees! Small Eyes Cafe has some great blends under it umbrella like the Gesha Village Lot #25, Cate Natural G5 and the Gesha Rebecca Natural.
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14. Hula Daddy Kona Coffee
Specializing in the Hawaii originating Kona Coffee, Hula Daddy Kona Coffee makes their blend fresh from their Holualoa plantation. The 100% Kona SL-28 and the 100% Kona Bourbon Pointu Laurina are some of its best blends.
13. Flight Coffee Co.
Specialty coffee producers on the East Coast, Flight Coffee Co., has a direct trade coffee buying program called Farm Gate Coffee. The Tanzania Ngorongoro Ridge Peaberry is a flavorful aroma rich coffee from the roasters that is highly rated.
12. Simon Hsieh’s Aroma Roast
Simon Hsieh’s Aroma Roast is one of the few Taiwanese roasters that have made our list of 15 Best Gourmet Coffee Brands In The World. The country is dotted with roasters that are gaining attention.
11. PT's Coffee Roasting Co.
Brewed out of Kansas, PT's Coffee Roasting Co., has over 40 varieties of coffees that are highly rated specialty blends. The company was named Roaster of the Year by Roast Magazine in 2009.
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Disclosure: No positions. 15 Best Gourmet Coffee Brands In The World is originally published on Insider Monkey.