How do Beans Differ by Country
You might already know that there are two main types of coffee beans: Arabica and Robusta. Coffee bean flavor depends on a multitude of factors, one of the most crucial being region and growing conditions. Beans vary in size, shape, color, and flavor based on where they are grown. Let’s take a look at some of the universal favorites.
Colombian coffee is arguably one of the best in the world based on quality and taste. Colombia is located in a prime coffee growing area, with lots of rain, the right soil, and the perfect climate. Coffee flourishes in areas with at least 80 inches of rainfall per year and where the temperature never falls below freezing. Colombia has a mountainous terrain and a tropical location, which allows for these requirements to be met. There is plenty of sunlight, along with enough shade to prevent the plants from being scorched by the sun. The coffee is typically grown on steep slopes under the shady protection of trees and banana plants. Each individual coffee bean is picked by hand. No matter the coffee producer, all Colombia farmers hand pick for the highest quality control. A machine cannot accurately find the difference between green beans, unripe beans, overripe beans, and the ideal cherry. That means that only the best of the best gets exported and make it into your mug. Colombia is one of the only countries to produce 100% Arabica coffee beans, which have a sweeter and lighter taste, less caffeine, and stronger acidic notes.
Split Rock Coffee’s light roast contains 100% Colombian coffee beans originating from the Huila (Southern) region of Colombia.
Ethiopia’s terrain is another ideal environment for the growth of coffee beans, making them the fifth largest producer in the world. Its high elevations and mountainous regions allow for over a thousand coffee varieties to grow efficiently. Most coffee plants grow naturally under the shade of other plants and without the use of any chemicals. There are three main production methods used in Ethiopia, the first being Forest Coffees. These beans are grown in the wild and harvested by the locals. Plantation Coffees are beans grown on large estates, which is a very small percentage of Ethiopian coffee. Lastly, the Garden Coffees are grown in smaller plots of land beside a variety of crops. This is the most common method for coffee farmers in Ethiopia.
The high elevation in Ethiopia certifies all of their green coffee as Strictly High Grown (SHG) and Strictly Hard Bean (SHB). These coffees are grown slower, allowing for all the nutrients to make the coffee denser and full of flavor. Traditionally, dry processed beans were more common, but wet processed (washed) beans are now becoming more popular.
Ethiopian beans are known for their winey quality and bright mouthfeels. Usually they have a light to medium body, higher acidity, and complex flavors. Most Ethiopian coffee beans are naturally processed, meaning they are dried with the cherry still attached to the coffee bean. This processing technique makes the coffee fruity or winy with bright acidic notes.
There are three different distinct coffee growing regions in Ethiopia: Harrar, Sidamo, and Yirgacheffe. Harrar coffee is dry processed, heavy-bodied, and have a spicy and fragrant aroma. These beans have a floral acidity that create a bright and intensely flavored coffee. It could even be compared to the flavor of a blackberry. Sidamo beans are known for its rich mouth-feels, full bodies, and sweet and complex flavor profiles. They are low in acidity and offer a vibrant aftertaste. The bean’s flavor is very consistent, making them a staple Ethiopian bean for many coffee roasters. The Yirgacheffe region produces coffees with a sweet and fruity flavor and aroma and a light to medium body. These coffee beans are tremendously fragrant and earn high praise for their quality. Since they are premium grade coffees, they are typically more expensive.
Split Rock Coffee’s medium roast contains a small percentage of Ethiopian coffee beans that perfectly complement Chiapas Mexican and Brazilian beans.
Some of the best coffees originate in Oaxaca, Coatepec, and Chiapas on small organic farms in Mexico. Coffee beans are usually washed rather than dry processed here. Mexico’s geography does not provide high elevations, creating a higher standard for bean quality during the sorting process. These gourmet coffee beans are known to have a light body and acidity with a nutty or chocolaty flavor. The best of the best Mexican beans have a delicate body with an acidy snap and an nice dryness, comparable to a fine white wine.
Much of Mexico’s coffee is used for blending and dark roast coffees. There are various popular types of Mexican coffee beans, the first of which is Chiapas coffee. This type of bean can be found in our Breakfast Blend. Chiapas coffee is grown in the southern state of Chiapas and is recognized for its light, delicate flavor and rich, brisk acidity with a light to medium body. This area of Mexico has a hot, tropical climate that allows for relatively stable coffee bean production.
Veracruz coffee is grown in the low lands on the gulf side of Mexico’s central mountain range. These coffees are not known for their remarkable flavors are typically lower in quality. There are multiple common Veracruz coffees including: Atzalan, Cordoba, Coatepec, Cosautlan, Huatusco, Misantla, Teocelo, and Tlapacoyan. Coatepec coffee is distinguished by its nutty flavor, light body, and brightness with chocolaty overtones.
Oaxaca Coffee is grown on the southern slopes of the central mountains in the southern state of Oaxaca. These coffee beans are usually classified as Oaxaca Pluma coffee and are known for their light body and light acidity.