The Most Popular Types of Coffee

For many years in the United States, coffee was coffee. It was perked or dripped and occasionally stirred into hot water, and was enjoyed by many. Over the past couple of decades, however, Americans have refined their taste buds. Coffee drinkers have reached a new appreciation of the subtleties of coffee. Across the country, a new culture of coffee enthusiasts has emerged to savor new flavors of coffee and discuss nuances of the once simple and ordinary drink.

The most popular coffees vary from region to region across the country, but there are some varieties that make the top favorites list no matter where in the country you live. If you are a coffee lover looking for a special treat, here's a quick rundown of some of the most popular types of coffee across the United States.

Jamaican Blue Mountain

Recognized for years as the most expensive coffee available, Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is grown only in the Blue Mountain region of Jamaica. It is known for its smooth flavor and lack of bitterness. Among other things, Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is used as the base for Tia Maria coffee liqueur. The flavor is strong, smooth and rich, with no nutty or fruity undertones, and may have a hint of chocolate taste. True coffee connoisseurs report a creamy aftertaste, and floral undertones to the flavor of Jamaican Blue Mountain.

Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is exclusively Arabica coffee beans, which make a smoother coffee, but are more fragile and harder to grow. Jamaica protects the reputation of its coffee crop fiercely, and regulates the standards of coffee beans that are labeled Jamaican Blue Mountain. It must be grown at altitudes between 2,000 and 5,000 feet in the parishes of Portland, St. Mary, St. Thomas or St. Andrew. There are several grades of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee beans, with Jamaican Blue Mountain 1 being generally regarded as the best coffee in the world. Expect to pay upwards of $25 a pound for this flavorful gourmet coffee.

Hawaiian Kona

The weather in the Kona region of Hawaii's Big Island is ideal for growing coffee beans. The combination of bright, sunny mornings, humid afternoons and mild nights create a bean that is rich, slightly acidic and medium-bodied, with a delicate flavor and a heady aroma. The flavor is complex, with wine and spice undertones contributing to a unique flavor profile that no other coffee can match.

Similar to the growers of Jamaican Blue Mountain, Kona growers protect their right to market their coffee under the Kona name. Only coffee grown in the South and North Kona regions of Hawaii may be labeled Kona. Expect to pay $20-25 per pound for Kona coffee, and be wary of cheaper 'Kona blends', which may contain up to 90% coffee beans other than Kona coffee beans.

Colombian Coffee

Over the last 40 years, Colombian coffee has become synonymous with quality coffee, thanks to a huge advertising and standardization push by the National Federation of Colombian Coffee Growers. Colombian coffee is characterized by a smooth, rich flavor profile with nutty undertones, but that's just a general flavor profile. In truth, Colombian coffee is a blend of coffee beans from many different regions that are mixed and blended to maintain a high level of quality.

Like Kona and Jamaican Blue Mountain, Colombian coffee beans are exclusively Arabica beans, which have a smoother, less acidic flavor profile than Robusta coffee beans. They are also harder to grow and have strong preferences for growing conditions. As far 'gourmet' coffees go, Colombian coffee is relatively inexpensive, but the FNC (National Federation of Colombian Coffee Growers) regularly names Specialty Colombian coffees that are identified by their region, altitude and grade. Colombian coffee is possibly the most well-known and common of the gourmet coffee types.

Ethiopian Yrgacheffe

Ethiopia was the original home of the coffee bean, so it is no surprise that some of the most prized coffees are still grown in the South American country. There are three types of Ethiopian coffee, defined by region. Yrgacheffe is a dark, full-bodied and full-flavored coffee with earthy, fruity and citrus undertones. It is smooth, rich and dark, a cup to truly savor. Low acid makes it smooth as silk and rich as butter.

To try to assign one flavor profile to Yrgacheffe coffee beans is not quite that easy though. The wide variety of growing conditions throughout the Yrgacheffe region means that the beans have a wide variety of flavor profiles. There are several different varietals of Ethiopian Yrgacheffe. More than most beans, it responds to different levels of roasting with unique flavor profiles. Ethiopian Yrgacheffe is easily one of the world's best coffees - and is generally an excellent bargain for great coffee at $15 a pound and less.

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About The Author, Stephanie Larkin