How Does Coffee Vary By Where It's Grown?
Do you know where your cup of coffee came from? As one of the most popular drinks globally, coffee can come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you’re a two-cups-a-day kind of person or a casual coffee consumer, the origin of your coffee can tell you a lot about the drink you’re about to have.
Here, we’ll break down the coffee-growing regions of the world and how that can affect your next brew.
Where Your Coffee Comes From
The coffee industry is vast and has to provide enough coffee for an estimated 1.4 billion cups of coffee a day. After its original discovery in Ethiopia, coffee spread across the globe. However, because the coffee bean plant requires particular growing conditions, its spread was limited.
A Tale of Two Beans
The expansion of the coffee market also defined the varieties of coffee available. Most of the coffee you encounter comes from the original coffee tree (Coffea arabica), which produces Arabica beans. Most specialty roasters prefer these beans for their smooth and sweet flavors.
However, if you are someone who prefers espressos or instant coffee, you may have encountered the other variety, Robusta coffee. These beans from the tree (Coffea canephora) tend to be harsher and more bitter. While this isn’t appealing for all coffees, these beans produce excellent espresso drinks and make up many instant coffees.
Despite their differences, both beans require the same types of growing conditions, specifically high altitude and tropical weather. This, combined with the spread of coffee from Ethiopia, resulted in a broad stripe of coffee producers situated between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, called the Bean Belt.
The Bean Belt
The Bean Belt contains all of the world’s coffee-producing countries, as these are the only countries with the right growing conditions. Within the bean belt, however, each coffee region has its claim to fame. However, there are three prominent coffee-producing areas; Central America, South America, and Africa.
In Central America, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Guatemala produce the majority of coffee shipped worldwide. Costa Rica was the original coffee producer in Central America, and is very popular with specialty roasters. Guatemalan coffee, similarly, is known for its fragrance and balanced flavors, something we like to highlight in Amora’s Guatemalan specialty reserve blend
Each country will have its own flavor profile and nuance, but generally, Central American coffee is known for its “bright,” acidic flavors and for making a tremendously balanced cup of coffee.
If you wondered what country produces the most coffee, look no further than South America and Brazil. As the world’s largest coffee producer, Brazil produced a whopping 7,844,000,000 pounds of coffee or about 1/3rd of the world’s coffee supply!
Brazil isn’t alone, however, as countries like Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela make up another large percentage of South American coffee production. The flavor profiles across South America will change from country to country and even from farm to farm.
However, South American coffee, in general, is compared to Central American coffee, as they both have relatively light, “medium body” flavors. Colombian coffee is mainly known for its sweet and nutty flavors, while Brazilian coffee tends to be creamier, with more notes of chocolate.
As the birthplace of coffee, Africa will always hold a special place in the coffee industry. Though much of the coffee we see here in the states comes from South and Central America, plenty of specialty coffee roasters will source their beans from the coffee crops of Africa.
The majority of African coffee comes from Ethiopian and Ugandan coffee farms, although Tanzanian coffee has carved out a niche in the coffee market due to its high quality beans. Amora’s limited reserve Peaberry blend from Tanzania is a great introduction to African coffee.
Due to its status as the “birthplace of coffee,” African coffee is often considered the purest type of coffee. On average, the flavor profiles of African coffee tend to be richer and more flavorful than South and Central American coffees. They are described as “full-bodied,” which may be due to the complex, fruitier notes found in their coffee.
While the origin of your coffee will affect the flavors and richness of the bean, it’s also essential to know the other factors that might go into your perfect cup.
The Other Factors
Knowing where your coffee comes from is a great start and can help you narrow down your choices in the future. That being said, coffee grows differently everywhere in the world, and every grower will have their own methods. Apart from the country of origin, the flavor of your coffee can come down to:
- The ripeness of the coffee cherries that are picked
- The types of coffee plants, and whether they are grown in shade or sun
- How the beans are processed, either with a dry process or a wet process
- The roast type, method, and freshness of your coffee
- Your own brewing method (check out our Ultimate Brewing Guide for some pointers)
And much, much more!
It might seem intimidating at first, but that’s ok. Nobody knows everything about coffee, and the more you learn, the better prepared you are to find your favorite blend of flavors. Just keep trying new coffees and figuring out what works best for you.
To help you in your coffee journey, you can try an Amora subscription today! Have specialty coffee blends from South America, Central America, and Africa shipped directly to your door. Our blends are made for all types of coffee enthusiasts, and you’re sure to find a coffee that you’ll enjoy.
We make sure our beans are roasted to perfection with our 9-step roasting process and that every bag is filled with warm, freshly roasted beans to ensure they get to you in the best quality possible. Subscribe today to get your choice of one of eight custom gourmet blends shipped directly to you.