Coffee is grown and farmed in countries located within the ‘Coffee Belt’, the region surrounding the Equator.
This region provides optimal environment required for coffee to flourish.
Asia, African, South and Central American countries fall within the coffee belt.
Let’s dive into the origins of coffee and some of the key characteristics of coffee from different regions.
What does coffee needs to grow?
Like any plant, coffees are exposed to:
- exposure to sunlight,
- amount of rainfall,
- types of fertilizers
- and many others
These environmental factors affect how the coffee grows and develops, and most importantly how the coffee tastes when it reaches your table.
Farmers harvest and process coffees when they ripen, the choice of processing method will affect the final taste of the coffee too.
Common processing methods include:
- Natural process
- Wash process
- Hybrid processes
Some farmers take it upon themselves to experiment and constantly improve their crop for the best consumer experience while others stick to proven processes that has been working well for decades.
With so many variables, it isn’t surprising that coffee beans from different regions will vary in the cup they produce.
Common Characteristics of Coffee from key coffee producing countries
Yes, it may be overwhelming to know that the coffee’s growth conditions and processing methods may affect their final taste.
But don’t give up just yet!
Here are some of the key tasting notes of coffee from major coffee producing regions.
Brazil is the biggest producer of coffee.
Brazilian coffee tends to be mild. They also provide sweet, low acidity flavor profiles, coupled with a heavy body. You may notice tinges of chocolaty and nutty flavors.
Colombia is the second largest producer of coffee in the world.
Their coffees tend to be mild with a well-balanced acidity. With a large number of farms in the region, it is little wonder that Colombian coffees have a wide variety of taste profiles, it’s always fun to taste them.
Ethiopia may be the country where coffee was first discovered. (Although there are debates that coffee originated from Yemen)
Their coffees are known to skew towards fruity and tea light flavors.
You’ll find them as popular hand brew coffee options. You’ll definitely be blown away by the flavors from Ethiopian coffees.
Guatemala coffees are gaining popularity slowly.
They tend to deliver a rich flavor with a medium to full body.
You might also get a spicy or chocolaty aftertaste.
Kenyan coffee provides a bright and complex fruity quality in a sweet coffee with intense acidity.
Okay, Hawaii isn’t a big producer of coffees but Kona coffee has its share of fans.
The altitude in Hawaii gives rise to coffee that are rich, medium body with low acidity. These coffees are easily enjoyed by most coffee drinkers, which may be the reason for Kona coffee’s popularity.
FYI, Asia produces a large amount of specialty coffee as well. (so you do not have to travel that far to get some great coffee) Here’re their characteristics:
Indonesia is a major producer of coffee in Asia that’s also known for its finely aged coffee.
Their coffees tend to deliver mild acidity with a full body, some may carry a tinge of spicy and woody aftertastes.
Indonesia also produces large volumes of Robusta coffee that’s popular across Asia.
Vietnam is the third largest producer of coffee, with a focus on Robusta coffee.
The kopi that you may be familiar with is most probably brewed using Vietnamese robusta coffee, or a blend that involves it.
You can expect to find taste notes of light acidity, mild body and good balance.
India produces more Robusta than Arabica coffees. Due to the altitude of their land, Indian coffees are heavy, creamy and of low acidity.
Before you go
I hope this short article has sparked your interest in specialty coffees.
If you’re ready to explore the world of coffee right at now, here’s a list of Coffee Roasters in Singapore.
P.S. Always ask your roasters for the specific taste profiles of your coffees! We’ve mentioned general taste characteristics based on coffee regions, these can vary depending on the growth conditions of the beans.