Many factors can push a coffee’s flavor in a different direction. From the soil quality to the amount of rainfall to the altitude, the details matter. Flavor assessments of entire countries don’t always reflect the nuance of the different regions within them. Different countries and regions within countries produce tangents in flavor that separate regions’ coffees from one another. Although flavor summaries are not always representative of the variety within a country, it’s still fun to adventure into the main taste themes distinguishing certain countries. It’s also fun to look at countries outside of the top few in Equatorial Latin America, which are most well-known to people in the western hemisphere.
Coffees From Different Countries
With a reputation often needlessly outshined by its neighbors in Central and South America, Honduran coffee has delightful flavor to offer. Two notable coffees are those from the Copán region and Parainema. Many grow at a high altitude with consistent rainfall. Trying single-origin coffees from these areas can be a rewarding adventure. Parainema’s name actually comes from a place called Paraíso in the southeast. It’s floral and chocolatey. With toasty, humid days that cool off in the evening, the highlands of the Copán region grow great coffee. The consistent rainfall and predictable cloud cover in Copán produce coffee flavors that are a delight to try. Some mountains are so elevated that they resemble alpine forests.
Fun, tropical flavor comes from Ecuadorian coffee. Considering that the equator is the marker from which the coffee-growing climates spread north and south, the country of Ecuador should get more attention for its coffee! Peachy and floral, coffee from Ecuador seems to transport coffee drinkers from the northern hemisphere to far-off tropical lands.
Kenyan coffee’s flavor has a very strong reputation. People from other countries don’t usually drink it in bulk, but it’s still interesting and very unique. Coffee lovers who thrive on variety will want to give it a try. With bustling acidity and intensity, it can remind people of sour juice. There is a time and place for coffee that almost makes you pucker—and that’s during groggy mornings in coffee-adventure-lovers’ mugs! A coffee tasting would be a great place for Kenyan coffee too, of course.
Coffee from Indonesia tends to be bold and earthy. We love to mention it because Indonesian coffee can sometimes be forgotten in the Western hemisphere. In fact, the term “Java,” which is a nickname for coffee, comes from the island named Java, where half of Indonesia’s overall population resides. Nearby is the island of Sumatra, whose coffee has a full-bodied flavor.
A special coffee hailing from the eastern African country of Tanzania is Peaberry Coffee. Peaberry coffee fruit contains only one seed. Most coffee cherries contain two seeds, or coffee “beans.” Peaberry coffee fruit’s one seed is round and more potent. The more even shape helps with processing. Flat-beaned coffees are also grown in Tanzania, which provides a contrast to the rounder peaberries.
Peaberry coffee lacks the bitterness of most coffees. However, it does pack acidity. Notes include tart fruit. Chocolate and wine are often experienced by drinkers. Peaberry coffee is sweet and bright.
With low acidity and a smooth quality, Jamaican coffee is also full-bodied and sweet. Jamaica is an island in the Caribbean Sea, and the coffee seems to reflect a smooth, sweet lifestyle. The peaks reach 7,400 feet, but the soil is moist and fertile. The cool climate seems to make these beans some of the coolest in the world.
Coffee plants originated in Ethiopia, so comparing Ethiopian beans to what are essentially its descendant beans is interesting. It’s not unlike how all human ancestors first lived in Africa. Anyway, compared to other coffees worldwide, Ethiopian coffee is both chocolatey and fruity. Low acidity and medium body characterize it. When thinking of Ethiopian terrain, it may be surprising that it actually has notes describing a creamy quality to it. Even before getting doctored up with dairy, it can have a creamy consistency.
Our Favorite of All: Honduran Coffee
Honduran coffee has so much to offer, especially in the higher altitudes. And “much” includes volume too—Honduras ranks at #8 on the list of most prolific coffee-growing countries. Overall, the flavor can be sweeter than other countries’ coffee. When thinking about taste variations within coffee from Honduras, coffee roast profile changes can alter the flavor too, of course.
Honduran Coffee Roast Profiles
When a Honduras coffee roast profile reads “medium” or “dark,” coffee tasters are in for a treat. For example, medium and dark roast coffees from the Copán region in the northwest near Guatemala produce rich flavors. Medium and dark Honduras coffee roast profiles add even more complexity to the flavor.
One important factor in determining how beans should be roasted is the shape of them. While beans from the most prolific places, like Honduran coffee beans, vary less in shape than say, the peaberries mentioned above, the shape of the beans still does matter in the outcome of the coffee roast profile. For example, charring the pointy ends of beans could be one problem if the shape isn’t controlled.
Other Factors Before Determining the Coffee Roast Profile
There are many factors besides bean shape that affect the flavor before they are roasted to create a certain (great ones in Honduras) coffee roast profile. Beans that grow at higher altitudes mature slower. The hardness of the beans matters. The density, or how much “meat” there is in the bean can vary a lot. Remember that these beans are actually the seeds of a fruit. Just like fruit can vary in the amount of water it contains, so can the seed held within. Therefore, the moisture content also controls the flavor profile. In some countries with varying topography and altitudes, the region matters for the effect on the overall flavor.
For example, beans from lower altitudes in a country like Honduras will hold more water. Meanwhile, coffees from not far away as the crow flies, but up in the mountains, like in the Copán region, will not hold as much moisture within. That’s because rainfall will not stick around as long in the mountains. Since ultimately, water runs back to lower altitudes and the ocean, the roots of coffee plants in the mountains don’t have time to suck up and store as much water. Remember that the goal of a fruit is to store moisture and nutrients that the tree can use in hard, dry times. It’s a protection mechanism. Water storage can have a big effect even before a coffee is roasted to a light roast, medium, dark or French roast. It comes as no surprise that roasting is a serious science in addition to a flavor-producing art.
The Best of Honduras’ Altitude and Purpose
In the mountains of western Honduras lies a beautiful city that is the historic county seat of the Copán territory of Honduras. With elaborate Spanish architecture and cobblestone streets downtown, Santa Rosa de Copán has a picturesque quality to it. Nevertheless, with socio-economic, political and justice-related struggles, along with challenges brought on by nature, any region of Honduras could use attention and outside investment.
The non-profit operating Subida Coffee Co., whose delectable flavors rival the best in Central America, has constructed a beautiful business model for the good of this Honduran community. The 120-acre farm outside of Santa Rosa grows and harvests excellent coffee at the direction of agricultural engineers. The site is also home to a boarding school that equips students with agricultural knowledge, in addition to traditional instruction. Purchasing some of the best coffee from Honduras can do a lot of good.