In my last post, we explored a little bit of the idea of terroir, and whether it might or might not impact (or at least predict) the flavours certain coffees from around the world might have.
Some people can generalise coffee a little bit, but you can’t generalise and consider them equal from different parts of the world. Each region has different taste and people have a different preference based on experience, cultural backgrounds and other things. How can one differentiate coffee from Guatemala from Sumatra coffee? How can one differentiate coffee from Brazil and coffee from Aceh?
There are no exact rules when it comes to the flavours of coffee. There are thousands, millions of possibilities that exist. For example, local and small coffee plantation in a small batch could know better than a big coffee company. Coffee processing methods could also be affected by the weather where the coffee is grown and the natural resources around the area, like access to water, mills, and other resources.
Coffees from Guatemala have the same similarities botanically with coffees from Honduras and because both farmers use washed method to process the coffees, it’s no wonder why their coffees are hard to differentiate since the condition of where they’re grown and the process is the same. It’s almost the same as Indonesia or Kenya.
The information we provide below is a simple and quick guide of the flavours all over the world, even though this doesn’t mean this will apply to every coffee everywhere. This is purely just based on where they’re grown, so roasting technique or processing, brewing method, have an absolute nothing to do with this (but keep in mind that roasting and brewing technique play a huge role!)
Central America is a huge contributor of coffee supply to the world! Coffee from Central America has their own preference and drinking habits and geographically, Guatemala and Honduras are a lot closer to the States rather than any African countries or the places in Africa which grow coffee. It also affects the shipment. It’s easier to buy from them than to ship them across the Atlantic ocean.
We can expect coffee from Central America to have different kinds of acidity. It could be citruses like apple-ish, or cherry like from Mexico. Different kinds of acidity is caused by climate, altitude, and different processing methods. The word balance in the coffee industry is to describe every aspect the coffee has from acidity, sweetness, and bitterness. Central America’s coffee tends to have cocoa and spice flavours.
The most popular coffee from South America is Colombian coffee. Colombia produces a huge amount of coffee every year and it’s on the list of top three countries which produce the biggest amount of coffee every year. The original profile of Colombian coffee is its mellow acidity with its intense caramel sweetness, with hint undertones of nut. Colombian coffee is different from Aceh Gayo when it comes to the body. While Aceh Gayo coffee is heavy and thick bodied, Colombian coffee has medium-bodied.
Why does Brazil place in different main points than the others?! Well, it is the biggest coffee producer! Some of the coffee beans are processed with the pulped natural method or some call it “Brazil Natural” it has a nutty undertone, chocolate, and definitely a little spice. Brazil’s heavy body will make a great espresso blend. The coffee will linger in your mouth for a little while, but it will leave you a clean aftertaste than other coffee from South America.
Now Ethiopia gets its very own section too?! Dear people, Ethiopia has a lot of varieties when it comes to biodiversity. Different varieties of coffee are grown in different regions in Ethiopia, most of them are wild and uncategorised, and the spectrum of flavour has a big potential.
Unlike the processing method they use in Brazil, Ethiopia coffees a be processed in a natural method (when the coffee cherries are naturally dried under the sun or the right amount of sunlight before the coffee beans are removed from the coffee cherries) or washed method (the coffee fruits or cherries get stripped after 12 hours of picking. Natural and washed method could have a completely different result. Natural processed coffee tends to be much sweeter if it’s brewed right, while the washed processed tends to leave a more clean aftertaste.
Natural processed Ethiopian coffee has a syrupy and rich body, with little berry flavours, while the washed processed coffee will result in the coffee beans into something more floral like jasmine or lemongrass without a rich body.
Kenyan coffee is mostly grown without any shades and there is a post-fermentation soak that can last for 24 hours or probably more. All of these aspects give Kenyan coffee a very sweet characteristic with tomato acidity and black currant tartness. There is always something tropical behind every Kenyan coffee and this type of coffee has become a favourite to a lot of people.
According to the processing, variety, and climate in Indonesia, their coffee tends to be deep and dark that you can feel the earthiness when you consume them and the coffee taste notes really suit dark roasting. Some of it may have a mushroom taste, smoky or leather. Some of it may have spice taste, herbs, or sometimes tea. A finish or aftertaste that will leave your mouth feels like you’ve eaten some cocoa.
Either you love or you hate this type of coffee because of its unique taste. Don’t be afraid to explore more. The more you explore, the more you’ll know which type of coffee you like best and you can understand your personal taste even more.