National Gourmet Coffee Day

Ah coffee – that dark, rich beverage so many of us drink every morning. Some like it hot – some like it cold – some like it plain – and some like it fancy. But how did coffee become such a popular beverage? And what makes some of it gourmet?

gourmet coffee

Where did Coffee come from?

Who  was that first person to see the coffee tree and figure out that the fruits (called cherries) were consumable?

These tall trees can be traced back centuries to Ethiopia. The story has it that a shepherd noticed that his sheep had a lot of energy after eating the cherries of a particular tree. After making himself a beverage from the berries, they had a similar effect on him!


Word traveled to the Arabian peninsula and by the 1600s it was grown and consumed regularly in homes and coffee houses throughout Persia, Turkey, Egypt and Syria. By the 17th century it made its way to Europe and, although it was considered the invention of the devil by some, Pope Clement VIII took a taste and gave it his approval.

It reached the new world in the mid-16oos – and by the late 1700s, it was declared “the favorite drink of the civilized world” by Thomas Jefferson.

And the rest is history.

How are coffee beans processed?

Coffee beans aren’t just picked and roasted. There is a process required to bring these gems to our tables.

It takes 3 to 5 years for the trees to produce the beans, which are actually seeds. The cherries are harvested, one at a time, either by hand or by machine. They are harvested daily for a week or two until all the ripe cherries are picked. It takes 100 to 200 pounds of cherries to make 20 to 40 pounds of ground coffee.


Next they are processed either by air drying in the sun, or by the wet process where the pulp is stripped off and they are fermented.

Now they must be totally dried. The parchment is removed from the outside and the beans are polished, sorted and graded – a process that take days to weeks.Then off to the market they go.

From here they go to the tasters where experts go through “cupping”, they they categorize the beans by flavor and quality.

The beans are then roasted. Machines keep them moving through a 500 degree oven that browns them and brings all those amazing oils to the surface.


And the rest we know – it’s ground and then brewed.

What makes coffee gourmet?

The primary difference between “regular” coffee and gourmet is the beans. Gourmet coffee uses pure Arabica beans where as cheaper coffees use a faster growing, less flavorful variety. The gourmet versions also focus on flavor before the caffeine content and pay attention to where the beans are sourced. Where the beans come from makes a big difference in the finished product.


In the 1960s and 70s, these flavorful beans really gained popularity and became the gourmet drink we think of today.

Which coffee company made coffee drinks mainstream?

Many people immediately think of Starbucks when gourmet or specialty coffee is mentioned, but they did not start the party!

Albert Peet came to the U.S. in the 1950s. At that time there were no specialty coffees available. In fact, the coffee that people drank was pretty bad! So in 1966, he opened a coffee shop in Berkeley, California on the UC Berkeley campus. His coffee was always sourced from high quality beans and used the dark roasting method that brings out all the richness and flavor notes of the coffee we love.

Then, in 1971, the first Starbucks store was opened at Pike’s Place Market in Seattle, Washington. With some great marketing, Starbucks quickly became a National sensation.

And so today we celebrate National Gourmet Coffee Day. Lets rind up some beans and brew a cup of total pleasure..

gourmet coffee

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5 Responses to National Gourmet Coffee Day

  1. Debra Klein says:

    Wow…so much useful information about coffee that I never knew. Thank for sharing your expertise.

  2. Andréa says:

    Such a great background story about coffee. Loved it and learned a lot! Thank you for sharing it!

  3. Stephanie says:

    Such an interesting read for all of us coffee-lovers! This article provides a great background in the history of coffee and what makes a ‘good coffee.’ Thanks for all the info.

  4. JCP says:

    Thank you for all of this information. As a coffee lover, I love learning more about the drink and the industry! Pouring a cup now…

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