There is no doubt that the speciality coffee industry has created a shift in the market and with it have come approaches to coffee that may sometimes be hard to follow. Through the posts on this blog we will hopefully break down the main terminology misconceptions and interesting aspects of the speciality coffee industry.
We often hear coffee drinkers speaking of a certain bean having chocolatey, fruity or earthy notes. These characteristics are inherent of each bean and depend on a combination of factors from altitude to processing to varietal (subspecies). In the first of many, this post explores what we can expect from the main coffee growing regions around the world.
Coffee production in South America accounts for over 40% of the world supply, with the majority coming from Brazil and Colombia.
Crops from this region tend to have characteristics that people associate with a classic or traditional coffee. Most coffee here undergoes the washed or pulped natural processes, due to the infrastructure and equipment available, often producing a clean cup and mellow acidities.
Common flavours of South American beans include chocolate, nuts and caramel-like sugars. By roasting these on a medium profile this allows us to embrace the versatility of these characteristics. It is typical for a South American to hold down the base of a traditional espresso blend.
Generally the coffee from the Central American countries are bright, clean and usually have flavours that are a little less sweet than those from further south. This is in part due to the richer soils that are found in the area.
For example, a South American coffee might have notes that remind the drinker of milk chocolate, where as a bean from Central America could be described to possess cocoa notes or dark chocolate tendencies resulting in the reduced sweetness. Other flavours that may be found in this area include light spices and sometimes fruity.
Our approach to Central Americans is to roast them slightly lighter than South Americans in order to highlight the brightness in the cup and the flavourful notes.
African coffees are often considered to be very exotic, resulting from the combination of a few factors. Firstly the higher altitude that these beans grow at can affect how prominent the characteristics are and secondly the natural processing infuses the beans with the flavours from the cherry.
Kenyans and Ethiopians lead the charge from East Africa and generally carry a big body enhancing the strong sweet flavours which lean towards the citrus fruits and floral notes with a wine-like acidity.
Roasting the African coffees to a lighter profile brings out the exciting flavours and natural sweetness from the processing of the beans.
Vietnam is the largest coffee producer in the Asia region, however Indonesia cultivates the larger proportion of Arabica beans and is the country you will hear most when discussing speciality coffee. India is also becoming a well regarded producers of good quality Arabica beans.
Asian coffee are considered heavyweights due to their distinctively thick body and relatively low acidity, producing earthy, toasty and stronger spice flavours. Having a smooth feel and taking well to darker roasting these are another choice for holding the base of an espresso blend.
Each coffee growing region yields beans with a vast number of characteristics and qualities. When selecting a roast profile we take into account where they are from and how they were processed to develop the tasting notes. This ensures we supply you with the best coffee and also allows you to appreciate the intricate characteristics of each bean or blend.