We coffee lovers are considered a diverse bunch. On one end of the spectrum are those who love pushing the boundaries of their taste buds and exploring the most exotic coffee's out there. On the other end, you have folks who stick to the “tried and true” basics. Personally, I think I've fallen into both categories at some point in my coffee experiences. Venturing into the world of exotic coffees can be a little daunting for people in latter group and it's completely natural. Since everyone has their own taste profiles, exotic coffee doesn't always imply better coffee. So if you're going to spend extra money to buy rarer coffees, you don't want it to be a crapshoot. That being the case, we've put together a list of the best exotic coffees in the world along with their tasting notes as a guide to help you in any future coffee adventures.
The list below is not in any particular order.
1 – Jamaica Blue Mountain
Often referred to as the “champagne of coffees”, this rare coffee makes our list of best exotic coffees for its pleasantly mild and extremely smooth flavor. It's rich, floral, bright, fruity, and delicately acidic nature combine to make for a highly unique coffee experience. On a personal note, the coffee's low acidity and full-bodiedness are some of its most impressive qualities. Tremendous care is given to every aspect of its production and only those beans that meet the high standards of the Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica are awarded the coveted certification of being called Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee. For more information on this coffee, check out our Jamaican Blue Mountain review.
Recommended Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffees
– Out of the Grey Coffee Jamaican Blue Mountain
2 – Kona Coffee
Kona Coffee is another highly regarded and sought-after coffee. Hawaii is the only U.S. state that has a climate conducive to growing coffee. But Hawaii doesn't just produce any ordinary coffee. Coffee beans grown in unique climates of the Kona District on the Big Island of Hawaii produce a flavor that's almost supernaturally smooth and perfectly balanced. It's a low-acid coffee with a medium body accented by a silky chocolaty finish. Its meticulously balanced nature is one of its most celebrated qualities. Within the Kona coffee world, there are a number of different varieties.
One of the most exotic of these varieties is the Peaberry Kona Coffee which offers a natural complexity of flavors. Unlike most coffee beans, Peaberries have only one cherry leaving it to be the sole beneficiary of the plant's nutrients. This concentrated coffee beans expresses a sweetness that's rich and deep.
For an authentic Kona coffee experience, choose a brand that offers 100% Kona. Sometimes it's sold in blends that contain only 10 or 20% of Kona beans, not discriminating the origin of the remaining coffee. For more information, check out our article that goes more in-depth about Kona Coffee.
While many of the other exotic coffees on this list are expensive, few come even close to being as pricey as Kopi Luwak. It's claim to fame is being dubbed “the world's most expensive coffee”. Part of the justification for its price is the fact that this coffee bean goes through a very “exotic” process. The coffee cherry has to be first eaten by palm civets which then ferment inside their stomachs before being expelled along with the feces. The fermentation process is key to creating the bean's impressive flavor. After roasted, the undigested beans are used to produce Kopi Luwak coffee. If you aren't uncomfortable with the process, you'll be treated to an immeasurably smooth coffee that bears hints of sweet and chocolate. When buying the best Kopi Luwak on the market, it's important to do your research on the process that the beans undergo. Companies like Gayo Kopi are 100% organic, Fair Trade Certified, and very transparent about how they go about obtaining these cherished beans which are critical factors in choosing the right brand. They also only source their beans from 100% wild civets.
4 – Mandheling
Mandheling coffee is one of four types of Sumatran coffee. It's characteristically deep and earthen flavor has catapulted it into the ranks of some of the best exotic coffee in the world. Mandheling coffee is grown on the Indonesian island of Sumatra in ideal conditions created by high elevation and volcanic soil. Full-bodied, with comparatively low acidity and a decisively rich taste, this coffee has cedar and herbal undertones that need to be tasted to be fully appreciated. Mandheling Sumatra coffee is the perfect for those who appreciate a deep and dark roast.
5 – Kintamani
This naturally (wet) processed Arabica gets its name from the mountainous region in northern Bali where it comes from. Full bodied, it's fruity and earthy all at once. It's accented by subtle notes of lemon and other citrusy flavors.
Ethiopia is often considered the birthplace of coffee so needless to say, Ethiopians know their coffee. Relatively light bodied, this washed coffee from Ethiopia is deeply fragrant with hints of chocolate, flowers, citrus and spice. The aroma of this coffee is second to none both in terms of potency and quality. The best batches are very lightly roasted and yield fantastic, delicate espressos. Yirgacheffe coffee on its own, with its deeply enjoyable taste, already ranks as some of the best exotic coffee available. However, if you want give it a turbo boost of “exoticness”, add some cardamom, ginger, and/or cinnamon.
Recommended Yirgacheffe Coffee
– Herkimer Ethiopia Yirgacheffe
7 – Maragogype
This Central American bean which usually comes from Brazil, Guatemala and Mexico, is unusually large. Dubbed the “elephant-bean” for its over-sized nature, this coffee offers bright acidity and an intense, fruity character. The combination of its inherent tartness and its silky smooth finish earns this Maragogype coffee a position on this list of most exotic coffees.
8 – Kenya AA
This is also widely considered one of the best exotic coffees available. The AA designation is based on a number of factors such as coffee bean size, shape, and density. As the highest grade on the scale, Kenya AA offers a sharp wine-like flavor that's a result of the rich volcanic soil in which it grows. At 1700 to 1800 meters above sea level, this coffee ripens slowly developing a complex and distinctly pungent flavor. It's characteristically clean flavor is due to the coffee's characteristically heavy acidity and a deep floral character.
Recommended Kenya AA Coffee
– Out of the Grey Coffee Kenya AA
Among Costa Rican coffee, few are as treasured and heralded to the degree of Tarazzu coffee. It's a lively, sweet, fruity, light roast coffee with a very intense flavor. Nuances of chocolate punctuated with subtle citrus notes make for a delightfully enjoyable cup of coffee. Tarrazu coffee is considered very balanced with medium acidity.
Recommended Tarrazu Coffees
– Cafe Britt Tarazu
10 – Yauco Selecto AA
The best coffee from Puerto Rico is also considered one of the finest in the world. Intense and full-bodied, with a buttery mouthfeel and a very long finish, with hints of chocolate, caramel, and spice.
11 – Mokha
Mokha Coffee will treat you to a exhilarating ride for your taste buds. From the city with the same name located in Yemen, Mokha coffee is one of the oldest and most desired types of coffee in existence. It's birthday is dated not long after that of Ethiopian coffee. This coffee offers a deeply complex and earthen experience that's critically-acclaimed throughout coffee circles around the world. This is one of those seemingly contradictory coffees (in a good way) that perfectly blends potent flavor with delicate fruit, cinnamon and tobacco notes. This coffee's unique blend of such complementary flavor pairings creates an entirely new taste unto itself.
And thus concludes our non-exhaustive but very comprehensive list of the best exotic coffees in the world. We encourage coffee lovers of all types to use the list above as a guide in making sure they get the most flavor and bang for their coffee buck. See anything missing from this list?Feel free to make any suggestions for additional exotic coffees.