The vast majority of the world’s coffee is grown between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, with Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, and Indonesia being the biggest producers. Though they share basic geographical growing needs, coffee from different regions can taste strikingly different from one another. And elevation plays a big role in how coffee tastes.
What is Elevation, and Why is it Important to the Taste of Coffee?
Amidst all the different ways to enjoy coffee, one crucial factor is often overlooked: Elevation.
Regarding coffee growing, elevation refers to how high coffee trees are grown above sea level.
But why does elevation matter?
It turns out that elevation greatly impacts the taste of coffee.
- Larger Temperature Swings
- Different Soil Compositions
- Great Coffee Varietals
Temperature swings at high elevations can cause the coffee beans to grow slowly. This slow growth gives the beans time to develop more complex flavors. With this slower growth rate, the coffee plants devote more energy to growing its beans. This produces more sugars and amazing tasting notes.
The result is a cup of coffee with more depth and complexity than those grown in lower elevations. So, if you’re looking for a truly unique cup of coffee, seek out beans from high-elevation regions.
The taste of coffee is a complex matter. A coffee tree can grow in many different types of soil, each of which can impart different flavors to the beans. The most important nutrients for coffee trees are phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium, but calcium and zinc are also important in smaller amounts.
The type of soil in which a coffee tree grows can have a significant impact on the flavor of the beans. For example, coffee trees grown in soils with high organic matter and minerals tend to have more complex and sought-after beans.
This is why many volcanic regions produce some of the best coffee available. Their soil is mineral rich with the right amount of organic matter. Favorites like Eastern African coffees tend to share this quality.
The types of coffee trees used are commonly not understood among casual consumers of coffee. And, to their point, it can be a complicated matter.
For starters, coffee tends to be grown in one of two major branches—Arabica or Robusta. Robusta coffee trees are of lower quality, yet they are more disease-resistant. Arabica trees come in many different sub-varieties depending on growing conditions. Farmers can choose their specific variety based on elevation, annual waterfall, growing season length, and general tasting preferences.
For example, the Bourbon variety of Arabica tree produces a coffee bean with nutty and chocolate flavors. On the other hand, the Geisha variety of Arabica trees produces a coffee bean with floral and fruity flavors. There are even new hybrid varieties that have been developed for particular regions. These hybrids are made to keep the quality of the beans high while producing more and growing more effectively under certain conditions.
Both elevation and country of origin play a significant role in the taste of coffee. With a Curate Coffee and Art coffee subscription, you encounter coffee from all over the globe that is expertly roasted. You are guaranteed to come across new favorites while honing your pallet.
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Author: Christopher Morris