Where does good coffee come from
Ethiopia is considered the country of coffee’s origins. Its coffees present a wide variety and an unmistakable character. The top coffee-producing regions are known as Yirgacheffe and Sidamo, but Djimmah, Limu, Harrar, and Gimbi are also prized for their products
Coffee production in Australia began more than 100 years ago but did not generate many profits. Coffee production only became profitable in Australia once mechanical harvesting equipment was developed in the 1980s.
The highlands of Bolivia produce wonderfully balanced coffees with a delicate touch of sweetness. Turm Kaffee uses organic Arabica from Bolivia, which bears a Max Havelaar certificate. It grows in Caranavi Province, famous for its coffees. The eastern edge of the Andes is known as the “Yungas.” It can only be reached from the Bolivian capital of La Paz by crossing mountain passes at an elevation of 4,000 to 5,000 meters and shows signs of a tropical Amazon climate.
The world’s greatest coffee producer, in terms of both quality and quantity, is Brazil. It produces huge quantities of Arabica coffee that is harvested mechanically. Santos and Yellow Bourbon beans represent a stark contrast to this. Santos beans are hand-picked and processed dry or semi-dry (known as “semi-washed”). Santos is popular because of its characteristic round, medium-strong body and slightly sweet flavor.
The coffees of Costa Rica are among the world’s best. The plantations are situated at an elevation of 700 to 1,600 meters. The major coffee-producing regions are at the center of the country. The capital, San José, is surrounded by Tarrazú, Heredia, Tres Ríos, and Volcán Poás. These regions produce the Arabica varieties of Caturra and Catuai. These varieties are only processed wet (“washed”).
Since coffee was first planted in El Salvador, plantations have been located on the cliffs overlooking the sea because of the climate. Inhabitants have been using the cliffs to grow coffee since the mid-18th century, although initially they only produced it for their own consumption. El Salvador produces exclusively Arabica plants. The coffee products from here have long demonstrated stability and high quality, and continue to deserve their reputation for these characteristics. The beans produce a wonderfully mild, aromatic coffee with light body and a delicate acidity. Coffee from El Salvador also delights the palate with a fresh, intense aftertaste that balances sweetness and acidity along with a refined touch of chocolate.
The elevated regions of this classic coffee-producing country supplies some of the world’s best coffees. Typica and Bourbon Arabicas are the primary varieties produced on volcanic soils in the mountains of Antigua, Cobán, Atitlán, San Marco, and Huehuetenango. They grow in shady areas. The highest distinction awarded by Amacafé, the government’s supervisory authority for coffee, is “SHB” (strictly hard beans), which is listed before the coffee-producing region in question.
The only coffee-producing region in the United States is the Hawaiian Islands. Hawaiian coffees are closer to their Central American relatives than they are to Pacific varieties. They boast a rich, powerful acidity, medium-strong to strong body, and complex aromatic structure.
In 1998, Hurricane Mitch destroyed a large swath of coffee plantations. Renewed coffee production has seen slow development. Honduras has a warm, humid Caribbean climate. In this ideal climate not far from the capital, Tegucigalpa, coffee plants thrive on excellent conditions. The beans from the Marcala region bordering on El Salvador have the best reputation. Here too, SHG is the highest level of quality. A good Honduran coffee has a strong body and a somewhat sweet, opulent taste.
Some of the innumerable islands of Indonesia have a long tradition of growing coffee. Java was the first island where Dutch colonial rulers grew coffee. At the beginning of the 20th century, rust disease destroyed almost the entire coffee industry on the island. Most plantations were then replanted with robusta, which is more resistant to fungi. Now Arabica is regaining lost ground in Java as well. The coffees are strong, rather low in acid, and sometimes deliberately stored for one to two years.
A majestic mountain range crosses the island of Jamaica. It reaches its highest elevation in the east, with the 2,300-meter-high Blue Mountains.
The high-quality coffee grown and sold in Kenya has long been subject to efficient and centralized regulation. All coffee produced is sold at auction. This centralized marketing structure makes for top quality at relatively high prices.
Colombia was long the second most important importing country, but it has now been supplanted by Vietnam. Colombian coffee production boasts high quality – the Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia (“Fedecafé”) defines Supremo as the best quality for beans. The next best, somewhat lower, is Excelso.
The country’s first and only coffee plantation is northwest of Kathmandu. The best conditions for growing coffee can be found at the foot of the highest mountains, at an elevation of about 450 meters above sea level. The plantation is irrigated directly from the Himalayas with the snowmelt from Mount Ganesh Himal. The unique climate and terrain allow coffee of top quality and unmatched taste to grow there: full-flavored with a delicate spice, light nut tones, and elegant acidity. The extraordinary coffee taste lingers pleasantly on the tongue.
Civil war raged for years in Nicaragua, and in 1998, Hurricane Mitch destroyed a large portion of the coffee crop. This put the coffee industry years behind. The best-known regions are Jinotega, Segovia, and Matagalpa. Most plantations focus on shading the coffee plants. The highest level of quality here is SHG (“strictly high grown”).
The highland Arabicas from Panama stand out for their excellent body and delicate, mild flavor. Because this coffee is low in acid, it is also particularly easy on the stomach. It is perfect for coffee lovers who enjoy drinking a second cup from time to time. Coffee from Panama has a sweet, delicate structure with a lively, refreshing acidity and floral to fruity flavor notes. Its not-too-heavy body makes it an easily digestible pleasure for true connoisseurs.
Peru is a small producer of coffee. The coffee farmers are mostly organized into cooperatives that usually produce organic coffee. However, the unstable political situation and a high rate of inflation make it hard to increase coffee production in a structured way. Even now, 98% of all coffee trees are in hard-to-reach forest areas. While the trees may be completely harvested, they cannot be cultivated for the purpose of improving profits. The quality of Peruvian coffee is comparable to that of Central American countries such as Ecuador, its neighbor to the north. The best varieties come from Chancahamayo, Cuzco, Ayacucho, and Urubamba. The highest quality rating is AAA. The good coffees can be round with a voluptuous sweetness.
A good hundred years ago, the inhabitants of Puerto Rico produced so much coffee that the small nation ranked 6th among the world’s coffee-producing countries. While this has changed, especially high-quality and expensive coffee varieties are still grown there today. One of these is Yauco Selecto, which remains in its hull until it is shipped so as not to lose any of its freshness.
Generally, Tanzanian coffee has less acidity and a lighter flavor than your average African coffee ´and particularly less than coffee from neighboring Kenya. Still, the sweet and fruity taste and its constantly delicate body are impressive. Coffee from Tanzania is also famous because of its impressive aroma, which penetrates the nose with its spicy, powerful scent. One additional characteristic of coffee production is the relatively large proportion of peaberry, which is grown in Tanzania. It has a more intense taste than normal beans, as peaberries are single beans in a cherry blossom where the growth is concentrated. (Normal cherry blossoms always carry two halves of a bean.)
Compared to the coffees of its African neighbors, Ugandan coffee is stronger and more intense, but as is natural for African coffees, it has a characteristic touch of fruit. Ugandan robusta coffees in particular stand out because of their spicy taste, full flavor, and slight acidity. This makes for a wholesome coffee that still has a distinctive taste. Uganda’s external conditions – the climate, a high rate of precipitation, and a relatively small number of pests – make its coffee production as natural as possible.