Coffee has been drunk in the west for over four hundred years and is a popular beverage throughout the world. Coffee ‘beans’ are, in fact, the roasted seeds of the coffee plant and are produced in some seventy countries worldwide. Beans from different parts of the world produce coffees with their own distinctive characteristics and here’s little guide to a few of the most popular.
Colombia is one of the world’s leading coffee-producing nations ranking third in terms of overall volumes and second for Arabica beans. Despite its size, the industry in Colombia is based on a number of small firms, often family owned. Colombian coffees are distinguished by their smooth, medium body and well-balanced acidity. Some varieties display an underlying floral character to their flavour.
Coffee has been produced in Brazil for nearly three hundred years and this vast nation is by far the world’s leading producer. The industry in Brazil is characterised by its large plantations and the predominance of giant, often multi-national, producers. Brazilian coffees make use of both Arabica and Robusta beans and are noted for their smooth, mild character and low acidity. Serving coffee in the Brazilian style is becoming increasingly popular in North America. The brew, known as Cafezinho, is presented in espresso cups and is both strong and very sweet.
Kenya is a noted producer of high quality coffees and the national government enforces a strict quality-control regime. The industry centres on the area around Mount Kenya and the largely volcanic soils of this region contribute to the flavour of the beans that are grown there. Kenyan coffees are characterised by their rich flavour, full body and acidic fruity palate. They are often the gourmet coffee of choice for enthusiasts in Europe and America.
Coffee has been grown in Ethiopia for many hundreds of years. It is the nation’s traditional drink, but Ethiopian beans are now increasingly channelled towards the export market. Ethiopian coffees are often labelled by their region of origin; Kaffa, Sidamo, Yirgacheffe and Harar being the primary ones. Despite regional nuances, all Ethiopian coffees tend towards being robust, flavoursome and with a full body.
Coffee growing was introduced to Indonesia by the Dutch some three hundred years ago. Growers found that the warm, damp climate of this vast group of islands was ideal for producing coffee beans. Indonesia’s industry is based on countless small coffee farms and, in terms of volume, the nation is one of the world’s major producers. Indonesian coffees are characterised by their richness, full body and well-balanced acidity. The country also enjoys a significant segment of the gourmet market where their rich, aged coffees are highly prized. Indonesia is famed for producing Kopi Luwak, the world’s most expensive coffee. The beans used for this brew are gathered from the droppings a cat-like animal called a civet – perhaps not the most palatable production method for some but it can cost over £200 a kilo.
This article was produced by South American travel specialists Journey Latin America – who provide overland holidays to Brazil, Colombia and other major coffee regions on the continent.
- Differences Between Arabica and Colombian Coffee (differencebetween.net)
- What I didn’t know about Roasting Coffee! (dmbaldwin.wordpress.com)
- 13 Coffees You Never Knew Existed (coolmaterial.com)