If you have a coffee obsession like the rest of us, then you probably also enjoyed your daily brewed cup of joe either in the comfort of your home or from your favorite coffee shop this morning…and maybe one after lunch…and maybe on your drive home. You might have your favorite brand of coffee bean or your go to beverage prepared by your trustee barista, but have you considered where your coffee actually comes from? You might have noticed the different countries listed on the container the beans come in, but knowing exactly how the country of origin influences the flavor of your coffee can help you not only make the best choice for yourself but also impress other true coffee connoisseurs!
Where Does Most Coffee Come From?
The “coffee belt” refers to a solid line of countries across the globe that all have ideal climates and settings for growing coffee. These countries lie between the 23rd North and 25th South parallel lines and includes areas like South and Central America, most of Africa, and Asia. This is not to say that coffee can’t be grown other places, but you will not likely find farms as widely successful as farms in these areas.
How Does Flavor Differ?
This might sound shocking, but coffees that originates from different countries drastically differ in flavor. When you consider the differences in environments between the countries along the bible belt, it makes sense that there would be a difference in flavor. For instance, if you have ever had a sip of coffee and experienced a blatant blueberry flavor, you have likely drank Ethiopian originated coffee. It’s a natural bi-product of beans grown in that area. Kenyan coffee is known for having a little more of a sour taste and often has a tinge of a dried fruit flavor. Often, richer Kenyan brews might give off a chocolatey flavor as well. Indonesian coffee is not nearly as acidic as other beans, and has more of a flat, earthy flavor. Nicaraguan coffee tends to have a slight tobacco taste, and the most common of all of the options, Columbian, has a really wide range of flavors and tend to have sweeter and complex taste. In addition to the difference from country to country, there are many other factors that might affect flavor. You could get coffee from the same area by two different farmers and they would likely differ in flavor. Crops of any type can vary depending on the rainfall, heat, and winter months of that harvest year.
Why Can’t I Tell the Difference?
Now, to be clear, even though most countries have very distinct flavor differences, you might not be aware of this because of the coffee you purchase or the way it is prepared. For instance, most store bought coffee is stale by the time it reaches the shelves and has likely lost the bulk of its original flavor. Also, if you load your coffee with syrups, sugars, and creams, you are likely drowning out the flavor of the beans. In fact, the reason why it might seem like some coffee really needs a lot of sugar and cream is actually because the beans have gone stale or maybe they were burned in the preparation process. If you really want to experience the richness and authenticity of your coffee, keep an eye out for locally roasted coffee beans from a single origin. Get to know the different flavors that the different beans offer and appreciate the work and culture that went into helping you enjoy the perfect cup of coffee!