Coffee, countries & becoming a coffee connoisseur

21-11-2014 Coffee culture

Today on the blog, we’re talking coffee flavours and how they differ between countries. In just the same way as wines from different countries have different tastes and flavours, so do coffees! Of course, it can take years to become a true coffee connoisseur with the ability to detect a Guatamalan from an Ethiopian but get to grip with the key differences and choosing coffee becomes a whole lot more fun.

There are a host of reasons for the similarities and the differences between coffee countries from the coffee varieties and the processing methods to the climate. Beyond that, the roasting and brewing methods chosen, have a great impact on the resulting flavour and taste.

Ethiopia… the birthplace of coffee!

Ethiopia is a country of great biodiversity. Literally thousands of coffee varieties grow here, the majority of them wild and / or uncatalogued, which means the variety of flavours is wide! Processing in Ethiopia is also slightly different, along with Brazil, whereby coffee is processed either as “natural,” i.e. the cherry is dried around the coffee bean before being removed or “washed” i.e. the fruit gets stripped within twelve hours of picking. These two processes create very different flavours. Natural coffee tends to be fruity and heavy. It often has a syrupy body and sweet blueberry or strawberry flavours. Washed coffee, on the other hand, tends to have a floral delicacy to it. It’s lighter and drier and often shows lemongrass and jasmine-like characteristics.

Kenya… big, bold & juicy!

Kenyan coffees are big, bold and juicy thanks to their variety, processing and because much of the coffee is grown without shade. As a result, Kenyan coffees are known for their savory-sweetness that can come across either as tomato-like acidity or blackcurrant tartness. Good Kenyan coffees have a tropical taste and no shortage of true coffee connoisseurs claim Kenyan coffee as their favourite … Jones Brothers’ roastmaster included!

Central America… the smooth, sweet Americas!

Central America, and in particular Guatemala and Honduras, is a major contributor to the global coffee supply. Central America coffee and beans are what’s found most often in North America. Far closer, after all, than Africa or Asia. Central American countries have similar climates and altitudes, varietals and processing techniques so coffee from this region tends to have a smooth, brown-sugar sweetness … soft like chocolate and buttery like pastry. Yum! They’re well balanced and fruity which works well with the cocoa and spicy flavours. The acidity levels vary … think apples in Guatemala and cherries in Mexico.

South America… mellow & more-ish!

Columbian coffees are what probably spring to mind but Peru is also a big coffee-producing nation. Coffees from South America tend to be medium-bodies, have a mellow acidity and a strong caramel and nutty-like sweetness.

Brazil… the King of coffee production!

Brazil stands alone as its coffees vary greatly and it’s a HUGE producer although severe droughts in recent months have called havoc with coffee production. Often Brazillian coffees have a heavy-bodied peanut flavour which makes them popular for espresso blends. Spice and chocolate are also typical with a longer aftertaste than other South American coffees.

Indonesia… saluting Sumatra!

Indonesian coffees tend to have a deep and dark earthiness to them. Sumatran coffees, in particular, often have smoky and toasted flavours whilst others have a mushroom-like complexity and a long, lasting finish with a dark cocoa taste.

There are of course as many exceptions as there are rules but bear these characteristics in mind the next time you tuck into a cup of Jones Brothers Coffee.

Have a great weekend!

Love what we brew!
The Bean Team