Those who equate gourmet coffee with carefully grown coffee can actually talk about special coffee or "Third Wave" coffee. On the other hand, aromatic coffee can come from large coffee farms in Brazil and is processed to produce a wide range of flavors, such as fruits and nuts.
Some people use the term "gourmet" to refer to any coffee that is made from 100% Arabica beans, instead of the less popular Robusta beans. Generally, any gourmet coffee, Third Wave, or specialty coffee is made from Arabica coffee beans.
What makes gourmet coffee different?
If we are talking about gourmet coffee, ie Third Wave coffee or specialty coffee and not aromatic coffee, there can be a significant difference in gourmet coffee beans.
Think of coffee beans as people think of wine grapes. Like wine, coffee tastes different depending on where it is grown, the vineyard or coffee farm it comes from, and the season. Like wine, coffee comes from a living plant that can expire, so choosing carefully selected beans makes sense.
"Specialty coffee" is a specific term supervised by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA). Unlike general gourmet coffee, which is a marketing term, specialty coffee is maintained by certain standards maintained by the SCA. SCA rates the quality of the coffee on a scale of 100 points. For coffee to be labeled a "specialty", it must score at least a score of 80 on this scale.
Third Wave coffee is a special type of coffee brew that creates a coffee with a single origin, usually from small farms. Third Wave coffee makers are part of the specialty coffee segment. It favors light cakes that let the aroma and origin of the coffee shine and emphasizes the importance of consuming coffee as fresh as possible.