What coffee from each region of the world tastes like
The world of coffee is deep and complex. To the average person who just wants a good cup of coffee in the morning, it can be overwhelming. You want something that tastes better than instant coffee or stale grounds at the grocery store, but where do you begin?
There are many factors that can affect coffee’s taste: brewing method (espresso, pour-over, drip machine, and many others), roast profile (light or dark, for example), how the beans were washed, and the quality of your ingredients, just to name a few. It’s this last item, quality ingredients, that we want to emphasize here.
When you want to experience a truly beautiful taste in your cup, the first thing you will want to invest in is better coffee beans. If you have been settling for any generic product, making coffee with freshly roasted, single-origin whole beans for the first time can open your eyes (and palette) to a whole new world. Some might even call it Paradise.
Beans come with a lot of variation, and no two varieties are the same. The size and weight of the beans, the elevation at which they are grown, their moisture content, their ripeness when picked, and so many other things factor into the taste and feel of what goes into your cup. With so many variables, it can be difficult to figure out exactly what you want.
In general, however, one easy categorization we can make with regards to taste is to classify beans based on where they come from geographically. That’s why today we want to share a brief guide to what coffee from each region of the world tastes like. We hope that this information will help you figure out the kind of experience you might enjoy and allow you to begin pursuing the art and tradition of awe-inspiring coffee.
When you ask the average person to describe the taste of coffee, they will likely describe the flavors, textures, and other qualities of South American coffee. Brazil is the largest exporter of coffee in the world, but Colombia, Ecuador, and even Bolivia are also global producers.
Coffee from these areas are light, mild, and what some might even call joyful. The acidity is subtle and pleasantly hidden in their medium body. Beans from Colombia specifically will yield a sweeter, less acidic, and nutty taste throughout. Beans from Brazil, while incredibly diverse, often leave a creamier, heavier aftertaste with traces of spices, chocolate, and caramel. This makes them great for espresso blends.
The word that always comes to mind when thinking about Central American coffees is balance. Considering the fact that they are neighbors, Central America and South America produce similar-tasting coffees, though they do have their important differences. Nearly every country in this region produces coffee of some kind, the major players being Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.
Coffee from this region exhibits a smooth and relaxed sweetness that’s quite like decadent chocolate or butter. Many enthusiasts cherish the brightness inherent to these beans, which comes from fruity acidity and balanced tartness. From Guatemala, you may notice hints of apple — and from Mexico, perhaps some cherry.
Africa, and Ethiopia specifically, is the birthplace of coffee. In this respect, coffee lovers all around the world owe their gratitude to the continent’s rich biodiversity, which allows for thousands of varieties of wild coffee to be grown and harvested each year. Along with Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda produce their fair share of remarkable beans.
If “balance” is the word to describe Central American coffee, then “purity” is the word for African coffee. These beans produce stronger, intoxicatingly fragrant, and unmistakably full-bodied brews. Depending on how they are washed, African coffee can be fruity and heavy like wine or floral and delicate like the finest teas. In Kenya, beans are almost entirely grown without shade, giving them a distinctly “savory-sweet” tropical flavor.
Many people in the Western world are less familiar with beans from Asia. These beans can come from the Philippines, India, and especially Indonesia, which is known for its complex Sumatran coffee.
The taste of these beans tends to be polarizing. You will probably either love them immediately or hate them just as quickly. Because a large proportion of Asian beans are robusta rather than arabica (which we will explore in another post), they tend to be earthy and dark. Their body is the heaviest and sometimes compared to meat or mushrooms. While many coffees around the world are noted for their acidity and sweetness, Sumatran coffee in particular can be noted for being savory and delivering a dark, long-lingering finish.
Yes, Australia produces coffee, too! It’s a little-known fact outside of Australia (and often inside of it, too), but the nation’s coffee production is slowly becoming more popular with the advent of specialty coffee shops. Coffee was first cultivated in Australia around 1880 but failed to be successful. One hundred years later, advancements in technology have allowed production to become profitable along the eastern coast from New South Wales and up to Queensland.
Most Australian coffee is quite different than what is found in the rest of the world due to its mostly low growing elevation, bright sun, and lack of shade. The flavors it inherits are a bit like charcoal and tobacco, leaving some critics to be skeptical of their potential. On the higher-elevated volcanic soil of Mt. Warning, however, coffee is being grown that is a lot like South American coffee: light, crisp, and clean. The sweetness can be sharp, drawing from notes of apricot, rose, and nectarines.
Have you found something you think you’ll love?
You deserve only the best coffee in your cup, and that starts with the highest-quality ingredients. We currently offer premium, freshly roasted beans made to order from Brazil, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kenya, and Rwanda for you to enjoy. Shop our beans today, and discover how exquisite a good cup of coffee really can be.