Know the Origin of Your Beans
The first step in making a good coffee, starts with your beans. Something as simple as heavy rainfall or a high temperature could change your coffee from an earthy, nutty taste to a more fruitier tone. From the aroma all the way through to the aftertaste, the growing conditions of a coffee bean will affect this significantly. Want to find a flavour that suits you? Begin by understanding the importance of a coffee beans origin.
Coffee beans are commonly grown in an area referred to as the ‘coffee belt’ or ‘bean belt’. This area comprises of regions around Asia, Africa, and Latin America, each with their own varying climate conditions. The distinctions and similarities between their altitude, rainfall, and temperature, are significant in the flavour their coffee beans produce.
The altitude that a coffee plant is grown at has an impact on the bean’s development time, which in turn affects the level of sweetness. The higher the altitude, the slower the growth rate. Having a slower growth rate means that there is more time for sugar to develop in the bean and increase in its natural sweetness. This slow development also delivers a harder, denser bean with more brightness and complexity, compared to beans grown at a lower altitude, which have less acidity. Coffee beans such as Robusta grow at lower altitudes, giving you a more smooth and earthy flavour. But if you prefer fruity or floral overtones, coffee beans like Arabica, which grow in higher altitudes, will give that sweeter taste.
Similarly to altitude, the temperature will affect the growing rate of a coffee bean, which allow for flavours to develop, and also helps determine the number of harvests in a specific area. While most coffee plants can tolerate colder conditions, they can be destroyed by frost and snow. However, an extremely high temperature runs the risk of the bean maturing too quickly and impacting its flavour negatively. As a result, most coffee plants are grown along the ‘coffee belt’ due to their relatively cool to warm temperatures.
In regions where there is constant rainfall, coffee plants are able to bloom year-round, while sub-tropical climates with a dry season will only have one harvest per year. But not only does the amount of rainfall have an effect, but also the temperature of it. A cooler rainfall can lower the temperature of the growing area, and those coffee plants experiencing this will mature more slowly, adding to the bean’s sweeter and more full-bodied taste.
Origin matters when it comes to coffee beans. Finding the right balance and the most ideal growing conditions really makes a difference in both flavour and harvest. Balance acidity with lightness and get the complexity your looking for in your cup by understanding the significance of where your bean comes from and how climate conditions in different regions around the world can affect its overall tone.