Which coffee would I like most?
To answer this in depth we need to teach you a little bit about coffee. Coffee is both a commodity and a differentiated product. This means some grades of coffee are essentially the same and some grades are very unique even being from the same region or farm.
Commodity coffee is low grade coffee with lots of defects. This includes underripe coffee cherries, overripe cherries, rocks, fungus, quakers, crushed and broken beans etc. This grade of coffee is what the big brands buy and roast it as dark as they can to cover up the defects in it.
Similar to cheap chardonnay that didn’t have a good growth season, the wine is fermented heavily in oak barrels to impart a vanilla flavor that masks the defects in the grapes.
On the other hand, specialty coffee is the top tier of coffee, like a fine wine. These coffees are hand picked, and sorted many times over. There are a negligible amount of defects per bag and have very unique flavors from crop to crop.
This is the grade we use. Specialty grade coffee.
What this means is that a coffee from a farm in Colombia can taste very different from a coffee from the next farm adjacent. This is based on varietal, processing and of course environment.
Coffees from around the world tend to have traits that make it identifiable that it is a certain coffee. However, just like wine every season produces a different crop with a different bundle of flavors to enjoy.
In general, here are some characteristics of most coffees from these regions.
Africa – fruity, floral notes, light bodied
Mexico – dry toasted nuts, milk chocolate, lemon
Central America – chocolate, floral notes, juicy
South America – nutty, chocolate, spicy, sweet, medium bodied
Indonesia – skunky, spicy, chocolate, full bodied
Australia – mild tobacco, floral
China – chocolate, floral, spicy, clean
India – very harsh, dry, spicy
Yemen – hearty, dense, chocolate
Hawaii – tropical, lots of floral notes, chocolate, light bodied.
While these are general characteristics, with specialty grade coffee there is no telling what flavors beans from around the world will be until they are roasted properly and tasted. I’ve had an Indonesian coffee that had raspberry chocolate notes and a Colombian that was fruity like an Ethiopian. Our Kenya Peaberry is very chocolately like a Colombian. I love Hawaiin grown coffees that have a lot of body that just have a tropical sweetness that I haven’t had anywhere else. I’ve had a Brazilian coffee that tasted like a snickers bar.
When deciding which coffee you should try, choose something you think you’ll like from the flavor profile and keep an open mind, many coffees have surprised me!