Where does Coffee come from?
Coffee trees produce their best beans when grown at high altitudes in a tropical climate where there is rich soil. Such conditions are found around the world in locations along the Equatorial zone, between latitudes 25 degrees North and 30 degrees South.
Besides location, other factors affect the quality and flavour of coffee. These include the variety of the plant, the chemistry of the soil in which it is grown, the weather, particularly the amount of rainfall and sunshine, and the precise altitude at which the coffee grows. Such variables – together with the way the cherries are processed after being picked – contribute to the distinctions between coffees from countries, growing regions and plantations worldwide. The combination of factors is so complex, that even from a single plantation one finds variation in quality and taste.
What is a Coffee bean?
A coffee bean is the seed within a red berry from a Coffea Arabica or Coffea Robusta tree. These trees grow between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. The better quality Arabica’s grow on steep mountain slopes and plateaus, at altitudes of between 600 and 2000 metres whilst Robusta’s are well suited to growing at low altitudes and yield large quantities of beans which have a robust taste and good body.
Coffee beans from different places usually have distinctive characteristics such as flavour (descriptions such as ‘citrus-like’ or ‘earthy’ for example), caffeine content, body or ‘mouth-feel’, and acidity. These differing characteristics are dependent on the local environment where the coffee plants are grown, their method of processing, and the particular variety of the plant.
Ethiopian Sidamo is a well-balanced, full-bodied coffee with a rich mouthfeel and bright finish. It has a sweet, complex flavour, low acidity with hints of chocolate, spice and wine.
Kenyan beans produce a singular cup with a sharp, fruity acidity, combined with full body and rich fragrance.
Somewhat similar to Kenya coffee, Tanzania coffee exhibits a bright and vibrant, winy acidity, with a deep, rich and strong taste. Typically with a medium to full body that is intense and creamy, a fine Tanzania coffee has a sweet berry-like, fruity flavour.
In the cup, Vietnamese coffee has a light acidity and mild body with a good balance and is frequently used for blending.
Indonesian coffees are noted for a pronounced rich, full body and have a vibrant but low-toned, mild acidity with a long finish (aftertaste).
In the cup, a Guatemalan is a medium-to-full bodied coffee, often with a depth and complexity of taste that is almost spicy or chocolaty to the tongue.
With its medium body and sharp acidity, Costa Rican coffee is often described as having ‘perfect balance.’
Colombia, the world’s best-known producer of coffee, produces consistently good, mild coffees, with a well-balanced acidity.
A fine cup of Brazilian is a clear, medium-bodied, low-acid coffee with sweet, nutty, chocolaty undertones making it an excellent base for espresso with a good crema and body.