Characteristics That Differentiate Growing Regions
Just like wine, coffee gets a lot of its flavor from the growing conditions and processing traditions within each region. While it is impossible to say that all coffee from a certain region should taste identical, there are some key characteristics that differentiate the various growing regions. As the coffee world continues to expand and evolve, I have noticed more coffees that break the “rules” and confuse even the most seasoned coffee palates. For that reason, use this coffee origin guide loosely as you are bound to find coffees that will surprise you.
Central America: Coffee Blends from Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala
The keyword for Central American coffees is balance. I like to think of them as new classic coffees. They are medium body, sweet but not too sweet and have a certain level of brightness that is often absent in South American coffees. These are great coffees that attract a lot of U.S. coffee drinkers who want to explore something new but not move too far from their comfort zone. These coffees often have flavor notes of chocolate, nuts and even fruit. High-end estate coffees make for great single origin offerings, while other larger production coffees often find themselves in delicious blends.
South America: Coffee Blends from Colombia, Brazil
This is one of the most famous coffee regions in the world known specifically for outstanding sweetness and aroma. The flavors coming out of this region are what many would describe as traditional coffee. Often with heavy body, these coffees have chocolate, caramel and nutty tasting notes. While historically this region has produced more commodity than specialty coffee, many producers are beginning to experiment with new growing and processing methods that are resulting in some outstanding specialty offerings. These coffees are often used in espresso as their flavor attributes have the innate ability to pair well with milk.
Africa: Coffee Blends from Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Zambia
Bright acidity and fruity notes are the common marks of African coffees. While there are distinct characteristics that differentiate each African country that grows coffee, you can expect exotic and unique flavors around every corner. These coffees are often natural processed, giving them a lot of the fruity flavors from the coffee cherry and mucilage that surround the coffee bean. The flavors that are delivered in these cups are often very fruit-forward, floral and even tea-like in many cases. Expect to see these coffees as pour over options at your local shop where they get a lot of praise from the specialty coffee world. If you want to go on a flavor adventure, try an African coffee.
Asia: Coffee Blends from Sumatra, Papa New Guinea, Java
The specialty quality Arabica coffees coming from Asia are quite exceptional. These coffees are known for a nice balance of acidity and medium body. As for flavor, expect chocolate, spice, and floral notes.
It’s important to note that some of the largest coffee producing countries are found in Asia. Vietnam and Thailand are massive coffee producers, however, they grow 90%+ Robusta which is a more resilient coffee plant than Arabica but generally known for a less than pleasant taste.
What Coffee Origin is Best?I like to think that the best coffee origin is the one that is in your cup right now. There is no coffee that is objectively better than another of equal quality. Some people love to go for a wild ride with a natural Ethiopian coffee, while others prefer a nice traditional washed Colombian. Each origin needs to be handled differently to bring out the most they have to offer. At Bruvi®, we source the best gourmet coffees from around the world, roast them each for the desired taste profiles that highlight the region, and pack them in our B-Pods™ for you to enjoy!