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Did You Know That Coffee Tastes Different Around the World?

Just like wine, the flavor of coffee is a representation of its country of origin. The weather, climate, soil, and farming practices all play a role in developing the coffee beans’ flavor and aroma. Knowing where your favorite coffee originates can help you discover even more single-origin options or blends that you will fall in love with. 

What are the 2 Main Coffee Beans?

French Vanilla Coffee, Medium Roast

The two central coffee beans for brewing coffee are arabica and robusta. These two coffee beans are grown in very distinct climates. As a result, they also taste very different from each other. However, did you know that arabica coffee beans don't all taste the same? Even arabica coffee beans from the same country can have totally different taste profiles.

Before we get too ahead of ourselves, let's discuss the difference between arabica and robusta coffee beans.

Facts About Arabica Coffee Beans:

  • Come from the coffea arabica plant
  • Make up 60% of the world's coffee supply
  • Flavors range from light and sweet to tangy and sharp
  • Caffeine content is between 1.2 to 1.5% per coffee bean

Facts About Robusta Coffee Beans:

  • Come from the coffea canephora plant
  • Make up 40% of the world’s coffee supply
  • Dark, earthy flavor with a peanut aftertaste
  • Caffeine content of 2.2%
  • Cheaper than arabica coffee beans

All About Robusta Coffee Beans 

Coffee Bean Growing Conditions

Robusta and arabica are two separate coffee beans that require two different growing conditions. However, while they need specific growing conditions to thrive, they are able to be grown in multiple countries with varying seasons, weather patterns, and natural vegetation that can impact the coffee bean flavor. 

Cold Brew Boost, Dark Roast

Not all arabica coffee beans are created equal, but that's not a bad thing. If everything tasted the same, what a boring world that would be. The variations in flavor and aroma allow more people to enjoy what coffee has to offer. Then you factor in roast level and blends, and it opens up a whole wide world of flavor.

What Makes Coffee Beans Taste Different Around the World?

  • Altitude
  • Climate
  • Soil
  • Processing method

How Does Altitude Impact Coffee Flavor?

Like any other plant, coffee trees need specific environmental factors to grow. However, many may not realize the important impact altitude has on coffee plants. Higher elevations will have different air quality, sunlight exposure, rainfall, and animals than lower elevations.

Lower-elevation coffee beans are more likely to receive rainfall that saturates the coffee plant instead of trickling down to lower elevations. Coffee beans exposed to water for extended periods will lead to a weaker cup of coffee.

But why does altitude affect coffee flavor? The higher altitudes offer cooler environments that are significantly better for growing coffee beans; the lower the temperature, the stronger the flavor and aroma of the coffee beans will be. The ideal temperature for growing arabica coffee beans is between 64-74 degrees Fahrenheit.

Altitude and Coffee

How Does Climate in Different Countries Impact Coffee Flavor?

Colombian Supremo Coffee, Light Roast

Arabica coffee beans are often referred to as “Mountain Coffee” for their propensity for growing on hillsides. They also require shade as opposed to direct sunlight. If you have a green thumb, you're already familiar with the intricacies of sunlight and plant growth. If you were not blessed with the gift of a green thumb (raises hand), just know that too much sunlight can cause a plant to dry out. If it doesn't have enough water, it can't complete photosynthesis.

Climate and altitude go hand-in-hand when it comes to growing coffee plants. When choosing regions to grow coffee, the farmers need access to cool temps with moderate rainfall and shade, leading to tropical climates.

Which Countries Produce the Most Coffee Beans?

  • Brazil
  • Colombia
  • Ethiopia
  • Guatemala
  • India 

Brazil has a humid tropical and subtropical climate and produces a coffee bean that has a chocolatey flavor and creamy consistency. Compared with Colombia's tropical and isothermal climate, which produces a sweeter and less acidic coffee bean.

Ethiopian coffee beans have a bright, floral acidity to them. Guatemalan coffee beans are a fun twist on Ethiopian coffee beans. In addition to floral notes, they have a toffee sweetness with a touch of chocolate flavor. Chocolate and toffee are an underrated flavor combo. India's coffee beans have acidity similar to Guatemalan coffee, with a full body. You can expect cardamom, clove, nutmeg, and tropical fruit notes.

Shop Ethiopian Coffee Beans

How Does Soil Impact Coffee Flavor?

Guatemala Bella Carmona

Soil is an integral part of the coffee plant. Soil is not just the substance a plant grows in; it provides physical support, nutrients, and pathways for water and air to the plant's roots. The coffee plant's health directly results from how well it is nourished through the soil; it impacts the body, flavor, and aroma of the coffee beans.

And because all growing conditions are related, altitude impacts the soil as well. The higher altitude and cooler temperatures lead to slower photosynthesis. Slower photosynthesis in tropical climates is fine. However, in temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the photosynthesis rate can slow down too much and cause stunted growth.

Shop Colombian Coffee Beans 

What is the Best Soil for Growing Coffee Beans?

Volcanic soil (soil with volcanic ash) is said to be the best soil for growing coffee beans. Volcanic soil is widely thought of as very fertile soil for all plants. Volcanic soil contains many of the nutrients present in the original rock; its low-density porous structure allows it to retain moisture and fend off potential drought.

7 Nutrients in Volcanic Soil Necessary for Growing Coffee Beans:

  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Boron

How Coffee Bean Processing Affects Coffee Flavor

All coffee beans are not processed the same. Each farm that grows coffee beans has its own picking, washing, drying, and fermentation methods. There are two methods for processing coffee beans: wet and dry.

Wet Coffee Bean Processing

Dark Blend Coffee, Dark Roast

Wet processing requires specialized machinery. First, the skin and pulp are removed from the coffee bean and then immersed in water. As a result, unripe seeds will float to the top, while ripe seeds will sink to the bottom. Next, the ripe seeds are cleaned of any remaining pulp and then laid to dry outside in the sun.

Dry Coffee Bean Processing

During the dry process, the coffee cherry is cleaned first and then immediately dried outside in the sun. While drying, the coffee beans are circulated and raked for both processes to make sure the beans dry evenly and do not produce mildew. The dry process is most often used in countries with ample sun and longer periods of drought, like Brazil, Ethiopia, and Indonesia.

During the dry process, the entire coffee cherry is left intact. As a result, it has more time to absorb the natural flavors of the sweet coffee cherry skin and pulp before it is milled or roasted. It's similar to marinating meat when cooking, with extra opportunities to absorb flavors and aromas. 

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Coffee Flavor Around the World

Where your coffee originates from has a huge impact on its flavor. Stone Street focuses on sourcing a variety of the highest-quality coffee beans worldwide to delight every taste bud.

When drinking your next cup of coffee, take a moment to reflect on where it originated from. See if you can identify the flavors and aromas that represent its country of origin, the rainfall, sunlight, and farmers that worked to create this caffeinated masterpiece for you.

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