Never before have so many coffees from so many sources been available to so many consumers.
Coffee beans are grown throughout North America and the Caribbean, Central America, South America, Africa and the Middle East. Like fine wines, the brew from each type of bean has its own flavor profile.
The coffeehouses in the Starbucks and Peet's chains have become social centers, and the Italian word for "bartender" - "barista" - has become a common part of the English language. Now it refers to the person behind the counter who concocts all those specialized coffee drinks.
One of the most distinct and recognizable coffees comes from the Kona district of Hawail. Once you've tasted Kona coffee, you'll never confuse it with another. The problem is, Kona beans are often found in blends with other beans, and it's tricky to track down 100 percent Kona-bean coffee. However, we recently sampled some award-winning all-Kona from the Lyman Kona Coffee Farms, "certified organic from seed to cup."
The Vienna roast is far more popular than the farm's dark roast, said co-owner Hans Eckert (with wife Marsha Lyman-Eckert) in an email. Each is $30 to $32 a pound via mail-order.
I brewed pots of the coffee over four mornings. The aroma and taste swept me back to the week I spent on Maui, where Kona coffee is commonly available.
For a more expert opinion, I asked a barista pal to assess it. He said, "It's earthy and bold, with good body. It reminds me of some of the African coffees. I recommend using at least two tablespoons to the cup when you make it."
For more information and to order, go to www.lymankonacoffee.com.