coffee and coffee beans

Today is the day to celebrate all things coffee! (OK, not all things coffee: Definitely skip the Kopi Luwak.) One of our favorite ways to honor this very significant and totally not made up national holiday is to say treat yo’self—and what better way to do that than with a little caffeinated splurge for the special occasion?

Here are four totally worth-it ways to put a little extra pep into your observance of National Coffee Day.

Geisha (or Gesha) Variety Coffee

Equator Coffee gesha or geisha coffee

Equator Coffee

Coffee geeks go gaga for the variety known as either Geisha or Gesha: This coffee plant was native to Ethiopia and transplanted to select areas of Central America in the 1970s because it was thought to be resistant to some common diseases. While it turned out to actually not be an especially hardy or productive cultivar, it does taste absolutely incredible. The ethereally light flavors and soft texture are almost unlike any other coffees, and the limited availability, delicate nature, and exceptional cup make them highly sought after and often very, very expensive—but hey, trust us, you’re worth it.

Try this: Equator Coffees & Teas limited-edition Guatemala El Injerto Gesha ($30 for 4oz, $54.75 for 8oz) is an intensely floral, complex, and delicate coffee without being too precious: Zesty notes of apricot and tropical citrus give the light and airy lavender tones a bit of backbone, while not drowning out the special rarefied quality of the cup.

Casked or Barreled Coffee

You might think that mixing uppers and downers first thing in the morning might be a recipe for disaster, but not when you’ve got the right blend: Cask-conditioned and barrel-aged coffees marry the warmth of coffee with the sweet, sweet burn of top-shelf booze, and they won’t get you tipsy. Some of the most interesting flavor experiments are being done with these types of coffees, and if you’ve never tried one, now might be the perfect time to raise a glass (or mug) and toast to the holiday. Cheers!

Try this: Dark Matter Coffee cask-conditioned Charlie Benante’s Fernet-Branca Blend ($25 for 12 oz) is heavy in more ways than one: It’s a cuckoo collaboration between the Chicago coffee roaster and thrash-metal band Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante, pairing the famous bitter liqueur with a Colombian coffee for a flavor bomb that’s so weird it’s totally awesome. The cask conditioning process fuses the booze and brew seamlessly, creating a cleaner and more consistent cup than “traditional” barrel aging can do.

An International Delight

Coffee from Norway 🇳🇴 #caballerojava

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No, not those “French Vanilla Cappuccino” powders your grandma stirred into microwaved water in the ’90s—we mean try a brew from a coffee-obsessed far-off land, like Australia, Norway, even South Korea. Roasters all over the world are trying new things, exploring different approaches to roasting, and have access to totally out-there coffees we sometimes don’t see Stateside. Take a trip without dusting off your passport: Even with the shipping and handling, it’s still cheaper than most in-flight Wi-Fi.

Try this: Tim Wendelboe’s Caballero Java (179 Norwegian Krone, or about $23 USD for 250g, plus international shipping) is a super-special coffee from super-special farmers: The Caballero-Herrera family, owners of Finca El Puente in Honduras, have been cultivating a garden of more than 15 different varieties of unusual and exotic—and, in this case, very rare heirloom—coffee trees for the past several years, and have planted some of the successful trees in their farm to harvest. Java is an old-stock cultivar that has a nuanced and captivating sweet-savory characteristic to it. Roasted by former World Barista Champion and all-around coffee celebrity Tim Wendelboe, this Java is one worth more than its weight in postage stamps.

Try a Sampler

Sometimes roasters or subscription services will let you try a whole slew of coffee at one time, which is a fantastic way to feel like you’re on a taste adventure without having to drive around town or coffee-shop hop all day long. Some roasters, like Roseline Coffee in Portland, Ore., offer single-origin samplers that allow customers to try a few of the current offerings without committing to a full bag. Even Sudden Coffee, a company that makes actually legit delicious instant coffee, has an option to try a sample of the stuff before diving into a subscription.

Try this: Subscription service Bean Box’s World Coffee Tour Box ($89 for 16 samples, 1.8oz each) offers a tasting tour of Seattle with nearly 2 pounds of fresh roasted coffee from Emerald City’s finest, including Slate Coffee Roasters and Caffe Vita. The coffees themselves aren’t confined to city limits, however—the profiles range from Africa to Latin America and Asia, single-origin or blends, along the spectrum of roast levels.

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Erin Meister (you can just call her "Meister") is both a longtime journalist and a coffee professional with nearly two decades' experience. She has written about food, coffee, film, travel, music, culture, and celebrity for The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Rachael Ray Every Day, Saveur.com, Time Out NY, Chickpea Magazine, Food & Wine's FWx.com, BUST magazine, Barista Magazine, and more. She is the author of the brand-new book "New York City Coffee: A Caffeinated History (The History Press, 2017)".
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