It's no secret that coffee beans come in a variety of flavours depending on where they're grown.
But did you know that each coffee region has its own unique characteristics that can have a big impact on the taste and quality of your coffee?
In this blog post, we'll take a look at some of the most famous coffee growing regions and what makes them special. So whether you're a specialty coffee enthusiast or a coffee lover just looking to expand your knowledge, read on to learn more about these amazing beans.
The World's Coffee Growing Regions: What is the Bean Belt?
Coffee is an internationally enjoyed beverage, but did you know that coffee plants primarily grow along the "Bean Belt"? The Bean Belt is an equatorial zone between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, stretching around the world at latitudes 25°N and 25°S.
Mild temperatures, humidity and rich soil in this strip create the ideal condition for coffee production so it's no wonder that the leading coffee regions of the world and the majority of the top coffee producing countries are located here.
The Bean Belt is home to major coffee growing regions: Central and South America, The Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia. In this region, temperatures are warm and humid and the land is perfect for growing excellent coffee beans.
So where are the world's most famous coffee growing regions?
- Body: Medium to Strong
- Acidity: Moderate to High
- Prominent Flavours: Chocolate, nut, sweet fruits
Apart from ideal climates, mountainous regions and rich volcanic soil, micro regions in Central and South America present a whole heap of benefits for growing coffee.
We'll start our tour in Central America, a coffee region famous for its mild and medium bodied coffees with sweet caramel notes and a hint of citrus. Countries such as Guatemala, Honduras, Panama and Costa Rica are some of the largest producers of coffee in Central America and are known for their complex flavour profiles that often include notes of chocolate, nuts, and spices.
Central American countries produce coffee beans that are well-balanced and have a bright taste with medium acidity.
Guatemala is renowned for its production of some of the world's best beans for their unique flavour. Guatemalan coffees have a deep, complex flavour with dark chocolate notes and is particularly famous for its smooth taste and nutty aroma.
The high altitudes and mountainous regions at which these beans are grown further enhance their taste profile by providing them with advantageous growing conditions and making them one of the most highly valued coffees in the industry.
Coffee from Costa Rica is widely renowned for its distinctive, smooth taste and luxurious aroma. Unlike many other coffees, beans produced in Costa Rica are harvested in a variety of coffee growing regions with distinct soil types, climates, and microclimates which contribute to their distinct flavour profiles.
Costa Rican coffee has a light body with a slightly higher acidity, delivering a refreshing flavour that is both balanced and complex. Costa Rican coffees are typically described as having sweet, fruity and floral notes.
- Body: Medium
- Acidity: Low to Moderate
- Prominent Flavours: Chocolate, caramel, honey
Coffee beans from Central and South America share some similar characteristics but South American coffee are often described as producing creamier coffees.
South American coffee is known for its balanced flavour and medium acidity. The countries of Colombia, Brazil, and Ecuador are some of the largest producers of coffee in South America.
Although coffee from Central and South America have similar characteristics of being clean, light and mild-bodied, South America coffee regions are known for producing creamier coffees with a chocolatey aftertaste.
Brazil is the world’s leading producer of coffee, with approximately 40% of global coffee production coming from its vast plantations. Aromatic and full-bodied, coffee from Brazil is imbued with a slightly nutty flavour and subtle hints of chocolate and caramel.
Roasted in small batches with precision, many recognize Brazilian coffee as having a smooth finish that isn't overly bitter and has a low acidity.
Colombia is one of the major coffee growing regions in the world, with their Arabica coffee beans highly sought after in the coffee industry for their well-balanced, smooth and rich taste. Colombian coffee has a medium-bodied acidity and a sweetness to it, with flavour profiles which often include notes of chocolate, caramel, honey, and dried fruits.
Another key characteristic of Colombian coffee is its aroma - often described as having a floral or herbal scent with spicy undertones. With its delicious aroma, it's no surprise that Colombian coffee has become so popular with coffee shops, specialty coffee roasters and home baristas alike.
- Body: Full
- Acidity: Moderate to High
- Prominent Flavours: Rich citrus, floral, ripe berry
Coffee farms in Africa produce beans that vary in flavour but can be generally described as delicate and sweet with fruity and floral tasting notes.
Coffee growing in Africa is known for its bright acidity and fruity flavours. Countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania are some of the largest producers of African coffee, with countries in West Africa growing primarily Robusta coffee beans and Eastern countries producing Arabica coffee. This coffee growing region is known for producing beans with a full body with flavour profiles that are citrusy, floral, delicate and sweet.
The Ethiopian coffee growing region is particularly famous for its unique flavour profile due to the combination of different cultivars and varieties that are grown in the country. Known for its bright and bold flavours, coffee from Ethiopia can have a light to medium body and produces a stunning aroma with added hints of lemon and jasmine. Ethiopian coffee typically has a medium to high acidity and is often characterised as having notes of blueberry and chocolate.
Much like the country's beautiful landscapes, Kenyan coffee beans are unmistakably unique with bold and fruity flavour notes. It often has a full-bodied flavour, with tasting notes of intense blackberry and grapefruit combined in glorious harmony. Kenyan coffee tends to have a high level of acidity, making it great for espresso.
Asia and Oceania
- Body: Full
- Acidity: Low
- Prominent Flavours: Cocoa, spices, molasses
Although Arabica beans can be grown in Asia, this region is known for producing most of the world's Robusta beans.
Asian coffee is known for its full body and low acidity. Countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam, and India are some of the largest producers of coffee in Asia. Coffees grown across Southeast Asia, tend to be described as having rich, earthy and herbal notes.
Indian coffee is valued for its bold, full-bodied flavour and low acidity. Grown in the tropical climates of South India, these beans are known for their intense aroma and complexity of flavour. Indian coffees have a unique flavour profile, with notes of chocolate and spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, and pepper.
Indonesian coffees have a full body and mild acidity. They are particularly famous for their distinct earthy, smoky and woodsy flavour - which comes as no surprise given the large network of Indonesian islands, highlands, and soils ideal for producing quality beans. Some of these coffee growing subregions include: Flores, Bali, Java, Sumatra, and Sulawesi.
Papua New Guinea
Beans grown in Papua New Guinea are known for producing bright, full-bodied coffee with spicy notes of clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Its floral aromas are balanced by the earthy tones of molasses and cocoa.
So Which Region Produces the Best Coffee Bean?
Overall, the flavour of coffee can be affected by many factors such as altitude, soil, temperature, humidity, processing methods and the variety of the coffee beans. Each region has its own unique characteristics that affect the coffee quality and taste.
For coffee lovers, it's worth trying coffees from other regions to discover different tastes, learn about your own preferences and further appreciate the subtle complexities of the drink.
Coffee plantation in Costa Rican mountains
Get Creative with Beans from the Best Coffee Regions of the World
If you want to explore all these flavours from around the world, why not create your own custom coffee blend? Select from our range of 11 specialty coffee beans and decide how much of each bean you want in your blend. It's a great way to try new bean varieties from each coffee producing region and experience new flavours.
All the available specialty coffee beans you can experiment with from different regions in the world
You can even personalise the label to make the coffee blend truly your own or to give as an incredibly unique and personalised coffee gift!
Click the image below to get started: