What coffee should I choose?
I always tell my customers that coffee likes or dislikes are very subjective. It is a matter of personal taste. That being said, here are some of the flavor profiles for various regions and countries.
Depending on their country of origin, each coffee has its own unique flavour notes and aromatic profiles. Coffee taste characteristics are also influenced by coffee varieties – most broadly Arabica and Robusta. Here at High Altitude Coffee Roaster, we only use Arabica bean.
Coffee characteristics are also affected by temperature, type of soil, humidity, altitude, processing technique, how the farmers care for the bean and ultimately, even how it is roasted. There are so many taste profiles of coffee – from sweet to bitter, nutty to fruity, toasted to floral – every coffee lover eventually finds the one they love the most through constant tasting and drinking of it.
As a coffee purist (no sugar, flavorings, or cream), it is about the exploration. Discovering which coffee growing regions have the flavors I most enjoy. Generally, different coffee origins will produce distinct taste notes. I'd like to introduce you to some of the most popular coffee growing regions as well as the distinct characteristics and flavors.
Latin American coffees generally give you good body, acidity, and a hint of fruitiness. Enjoy flavor notes that are chocolatey, nutty and with a slight citrus overtone.
Within Latin America, several growing regions have come to the front.
- BRAZIL – As one of the world’s top coffee producers, Brazil is known for growing nutty and sweet coffees with a full body that is perfect for espressos. Some beans from this region may also have flavor notes of spice or even citrus.
- COLOMBIA – Famous for its medium body and well-balanced flavor, Colombian coffees are a popular choice. Its flavor is characterized by caramel sweetness and a subtle nuttiness. It has moderate acidity that balances well with its inherent sweetness.
- GUATEMALA – Like its Latin American neighbor, Colombia, Guatemalan coffee is also rich and distinctly flavorful, thanks to its equally rich volcanic soil. However, it has a slightly higher degree of acidity and a hint of smokiness may be detected – a taste characteristic that coffee lovers find unique to the region.
Look out for higher acidity and bright flavor notes if you are buying African coffee! Generally, African coffees may taste fruity, floral and sweet.
True coffee lovers enjoy the light and fruity flavors of African coffees and from here, the two major growing regions are Ethiopia and Kenya.
- ETHIOPIA – Considered as the birthplace of coffee with thousands of coffee varietals that are still grown wild, Ethiopia offers a fruity, wine-like coffee. The coffee here is processed either wet or dry with dry-processed coffee having a taste profile reminiscent of blueberry or strawberry, with a smooth, heavy, syrupy mouthfeel. Meanwhile, wet-processed coffee tends to have delicate floral nuances that give it a lighter body.
- KENYA – Kenyan coffee is distinct for bold, vibrant, and juicy flavors, making it one of the most highly prized and priced coffees in the world. Kenyan AA is well known to be the largest coffee bean. Kenyan coffees can taste sary to sweet, with a tartness that is reminiscent of tomatoes or black currants. Overall, coffees from the region are mellow and well-balanced, with distinctly pleasant nuances that are popular among coffee aficionados.
Asian coffees are well-known for their bitter and earthy taste notes. Discover flavors of dark chocolate, earth and herbs.
Asia is an up and coming growing region for coffee. While Vietnam and Indonesia export huge amounts of coffee, the specialty coffee market is also on the rise with producers in Thailand, Malaysia and Java.
- INDONESIA – For those who are looking for a big, bold, dark, and full-bodied coffee experience, Sumatra is a perfect choice. It is also well-loved for its distinctly smoky, musty and earthy quality that is ideal for dark roasts. There are also coffees that have complex, dark-chocolate and herbal-tasting qualities that are unique to the regions they are grown in.