Think about the coffee you drink each morning. What do you taste? Are you adding cream, sugar, chocolate, syrups? Why? Did you know that a lot of the flavors we replicate, naturally occur in coffee? When you know what flavors you enjoy and understand what creates the taste of coffee, you can probably find those flavors in the cup right in front of you! In this short series, we’re talking about the different things that impact the taste of coffee . Today, we’ll be talking about how origin impacts taste.
The Journey of Coffee
The journey of your morning cup of coffee is long. There is purpose in every step. From origin, to processing, to roasting, to your cup; which we call the “last mile.” At Stori Coffee, we believe this complex journey is an important story to share. It is a reflection of our everyday lives. There is prejudice looming next to pride; beauty, surrounded by desolation; devastating poverty, right beside abundant opportunity; and an ever-present scarcity, flanked by an abundance of life. But to fully appreciate and embrace the weighted role you play in this journey; you need to start at the beginning.
What is Origin?
Where coffee comes from or is grown is also called “origin." It has become a staple definition in the industry when we want to talk about what to expect from the final flavor of a coffee, irrespective of its process, roast profile, or brewing method. And because of this, “origin” is the anchor of selection for most coffee enthusiasts as much as it is for people looking to discover ‘taste of place.’
The America’s, Africa, and the Asia Pacific Coffee Origins
Coffee is grown in three distinct hemispheres. The America’s, - Central and Southern America, Africa, and Asia Pacific. These hemispheres are further defined by a longitudinal belt we call “the coffee belt,” (also known as the equatorial belt) between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. Though international statistics only recognize a little over 60 countries that grow coffee, independent research shows that in fact, the world is home to no less than 90 coffee origins. Of those, a total of 84 are independent and sovereign countries and island nations growing coffee.
Geography and Coffee Flavor
But the key story here about origin comes from the unique and specific flora and fauna. Factors like soil, altitude, sun, wind, rainfall, and temperature play a significant part in flavor. For instance, one may prefer Apples from Washington, compared to apples from Mexico. The size, acidity, color, and flavor will be radically different, all thanks to geography.
How Altitude impacts Coffee’s Taste
After the soil from which it is rooted, altitude is probably the second most critical agent impacting flavor when it pertains to place of origin. Each origin has different elevations in which coffee flourishes. For instance, Rwanda grows coffee in areas much higher than Brazil. A higher altitude means slower ripening; slower ripening means higher density in the seed. Higher density equates to more sweetness, better quality acidity, and more complexity overall. This is why you will often see high grown coffee highly revered and sought after.
And because of this, people begin to discover key differences in coffees based on geography. Split by three growing hemispheres and latitudes, one can begin to see uniformity in flavors (considering processing remains equal).
What Origin and Altitude Teach us about Taste
Now that you know that origin and altitude impact taste, you can start to notice what flavors are present in coffees from different origins. What flavors are you drawn to? Where do they come from? At Stori Coffee, our Founders Series Coffee a Single Origin coffee from Rwanda. This means it’s grown at a higher altitude resulting in more sweetness and better quality acidity.
We’ve only just started our journey. In the next few posts, we’ll continue to discuss other elements like processing, roasting, and brew methods affect the taste of coffee.