Coffee trees produce the best beans when grown at higher altitudes. This is even better in tropical climates in rich soil. These conditions are found to best around the equator.
There are a lot of other factors involved in the taste profiles of coffees, including the chemistry of the soil, the variety of the plant, the weather conditions and the way that the cherries are processed.
Here is a quick guide to a few of the coffee producing countries around the world.
Indonesia consists of lots of islands, some of the larger islands are now associated with the excellent coffees which grow there. Sumatra and Java being a couple. It used to lead the world’s production but now small farms predominate. Indonesian Coffees are known for their rich and full body with very mild acidity.
Indonesia has fine aged coffees which cannot be matched by technology.
A large coffee producing country which began with the introduction of bourbon coffee. Which thrived. Small farms in the south of the country proudce mostly robusta. Vietnamese coffee is a well balanced coffee with light acidity and mild body. This makes it ideal for blending with other coffees.
Africa and the middle east
Generally wet processed, coffee from Ethiopia comes from one of three main growing regions — Sidamo, Harer or Kaffa — and often bears one of those names. In the cup, an Ethiopian coffee tends to offer a remarkable and bold statement. It is full flavored, a bit down-to-earth and full bodied.
One of the more popular coffees in the USA and across europe. Kenya puts a lot of emphasis on the quality of its coffee and has its own rating system in coffee beans. Generally have a full body and rich fragrance combined with a fruity acidity and sharp flavour.
The ivory coast is one of the worlds largest producers of robusta coffee, used mostly for espresso blends because of its light body and acidity. Making them ideal for a darker roast.
Water is scarce in yemen resulting in the coffee beans that are grown here being smaller and more irregular in size. This gives Yemeni coffee an extremely distinctive and rich taste like no other. This is where the worlds first coffee blend originated. Mocha Java.
This country ranks second in the world of yearly production. As a result, colombia takes its role in the coffee world very , very seriously and works hard to keep the same standard of excellence. A generally mild coffee with a well balanced acidity. Consistently good.
Brazil is the biggest producer of coffee in the world, coffee plantations in brazil can take up massive areas of land and need lots of people to maintain them. Large quantities of coffees result. Generally a mild coffee, both arabica and robusta are grown here in different geographical regions. Altitude and soil quality determines where. Low acidity and a sweet medium bodied coffee is what you will find in brazil.
Guatemala coffees have a distinct spicy or chocolatey taste and a very rich flavour. Antigua, Heuhuetanango and Coban are amongst the three main growth regions which have a rugged lanscape and a rich volcanic soil. These are generally hard beans which are grown at an altitude of 4500 or higher.
This coffee growing country has a great reputation for its beans, only producing arabica. Coffee buffs often describe costa rican as having the perfect balance. Medium body with sharp acidity makes this consistent with fine quality coffee.
North American and the Caribbean
Most of the coffee produced is in the south of the country, mainly the states of Oaxaca, Chiapas and Veracruz. A sharpness, a great aroma and a good depth in flavour makes this great for blending. Mexico ranks as one of the largest coffee producing countries.
The home of the famous Kona coffee. A great environment for growing coffee which leaves you with a delicious aromatic, medium bodied cup. Very much sought after and in high demand.
Grand Lares and Yauco Selecto are the two main areas for growth on this carribean island. Quality arabica varieties which are noted for acidity, balanced body and wonderfully fruity aroma.
Some references come from the national coffee association.