On Coffee | Some Hundred House favourites

Tired of all those top ten count downs? Bored of the top ten accidents on your facebook feed? Well HHC has kindly offered some expertise into formulating a list of our top ten favourite coffees.

1. Panama Geisha

The Geisha has an Ethiopian history, it was brought to Panama in 1963 via Costa Rica. It was a very low yielding species, so it was never used by farmers. Nowadays there are still very few farmers growing it and it fetches $100 per pound, around $7 per cup. The Geisha often displays exquisite acidity and extraordinary character made up of jasmine, honey and fruit flavours.

2. Cup of Excellence

The Cup of Excellence is the most prestigious award given to a fine quality coffee. The level of scrutiny that Cup of Excellence coffees undergo is unmatched anywhere in the coffee industry. All of the Cup of Excellence award winners are cupped at least 5 times (the ‘Top 10’ are cupped again) during the 3-week competition. During this selection process, thousands of cups are evaluated, tasted and scored based on their exemplary characteristics. The prices that these winnings coffees receive at auction have broken records and proven that there is a huge demand for these rare farmer identified coffees.

3. Kenyan Peaberry coffee

Two origins seem to have outstripped others in price increase – Sumatra and Kenya. It isn’t hard to figure out why – both countries are powerhouse producers and these coffee origins are both on the short list of most famous producers in the world.  Although completely different, Sumatra and Kenya coffees have a very distinctive cup profile and are among the most sought after – a large reason for the price increase is simply supply and demand for some very fine coffees.

A peaberry (also called “snail” in Spanish) is a natural mutation inside the cherry.  Normally coffee beans grow two to a fruit, flat against each other like halves of a peanut, but a funny thing happens in about 5% of the world’s coffee, and a bean is born an only child.

So the question arises, given the cost of Kenya coffee, is it worth it?  You’ll ultimately have to decide that for yourselves, but our opinion would be: yes, it is.  Of course not all coffee that comes out of Kenya is equal and the price you pay is a direct reflection of that difference. Kenya coffees are sold at government sponsored auctions – the finer coffees sell quickly and command a much higher price, as you would expect.  Because of the auction process, don’t expect to find any “bargains” on fine Kenya coffee.  If you find a cheap Kenya, there is a reason for it. Kenyan coffee is often juicy, buttery and bursting with blackcurrant.

4. Costa Rica (Tarrazu Region)

If there is a problem with Costa Rican coffee, it's the fact that it can sometimes lack distinction;  straightforward, clean, softly acidic, mild. It has lots of 'coffee flavour' and the trend until the late 90s in the country was to create large volumes of moderately good 'specialty' coffee, with a push toward high-yield coffee shrubs that lacked the clarity in cup flavour of the older types. The large mills mixed all the small-farm coffee cherries that were delivered, the high-grown and low-grown, the ripe fruits and the not-so-ripe. The result was mediocrity. More recently, farmers (particularly in the Tarrazu region) are milling their own coffee – farmers are seeing their crops all the way through to the finished product and the difference in quality output from this country has been astounding.

5. Ethiopian Yirgacheffe

According to legend, the 9th-century goatherder Kaldi discovered the coffee plant in Ethiopia after noticing the energizing effect the plant had on his flock, but the story did not appear in writing until 1671 and is thought to be apocryphal. Yirgacheffe certainly does have a long history with coffee and many of the first strains of the species are from Ethiopia. Yirgacheffe is a popular coffee due to its very distinct characteristics and aromas – often a lighter acidity than most Kenya coffees, Yirgacheffes often possess herbal and floral qualities.

6. Sundried Harrar coffee

For centuries, the sun-dried method was the only way coffee farmers in Harrar processed coffee. Leaving the cherry on the bean to dry and then de-husking it captures all of the rich flavours and accentuates the unique, exquisite notes.

Harrari coffee is one of the most distinct coffees in the world and you will either love it or hate it…. It has a real pungency and has a very strong ‘gamey’ flavour and can often have a blueberry cheesecake characteristic!

7. Brazil

Brazil produces a third of the world's coffee and it has done for many years. It is by far the biggest coffee producer in the world. Brazil coffee is the most ‘usable’ coffee… it works well in Turkish and Arabic coffee and therefore has a longstanding relationship with the Middle East. It is also mild enough to make a pleasant espresso, so is popular in the UK and USA and it also blends with other coffees very well. Brazil is like the nuts and bolts of coffee, but it is mainly popular because it tends to have a high sweetness and pleasant flavours such as caramel and hazelnut.

8. Honey processed coffee

Honey coffee is a process where some of the mucilage that covers the bean is left in it by less washing.  When it is well processed it generates an amazing, sweeter taste that intensifies the chocolate nutty aroma.  The mucilage that covers the bean is packed with sugars and that is what generates the different taste. At Hundred House we are buying some amazing honey process coffees and there are a handful of farmers across the world who are experimenting with the processing to create some incredible results.

9. Monsoon Malabar India

Monsoon Malabar is fast becoming one of the largest coffee producers in the world and it is also one of its most distinct. This is another one of those coffees that you will either love or hate. This coffee is grown in the southern areas of India and the penetration of moisture from the monsoons when the coffee is stored adds another dimension to it. It is often very low in acidity and has a full body and often a spicy aftertaste.

10. Indonesian Sumatra

Sumatra Mandheling coffees are famous around the world for their heavy syrupy body and chocolatey after-notes. Coffee from this western-most island in Indonesia is intriguing and complex, due to the large number of small-holder producers and the unique (wet hulling) processing technique they use. At the green bean stage, coffee from this area has a distinctive bluish colour, which is attributed to the processing method and lack of iron in the soil. Madheling and Lingtong coffees often have an interesting earthy like flavour and are exceedingly deep and complex.