How Important is the Coffee Bean Source in Brewing Good Coffee?

Quality Over Quantity

Coffee has taken on a life of its own in recent times. Long gone are the days of instant coffee and microwaving hot water for that spark of energy coffee is known to provide. Whether it is a plain cup of coffee, cappuccino, cold brewed or otherwise, self-proclaimed coffee snobs around the world insist the quality of the bean is of utmost importance. Therefore, quality over quantity is ideal.

From Altitude to Roasting

There are many factors in growing coffee beans. The altitude, climate, soil used, etc., all play important rolls in the flavor of the coffee. If a person is not a regular coffee drinker, many will think all coffee tastes the same. However, those that drink coffee on a regular basis know that there are differences in coffee. There are higher quality beans that produce a stronger and more flavorful drink, whereas there are lower quality beans that produce a bitter and less favorable flavor. What is it about the beans that create such differences in flavor?

While all factors of growth are important, it seems to be that altitude plays the biggest factor in growing coffee beans. When beans are grown at higher altitudes, they won’t grow or overheat too quickly. This helps them to withstand the hot temperatures they will experience during the full cultivating process (mrcoffee.com). A more flavorful bean consisting of fruit, spice, floral, berry and wine hints are typically grown in the higher altitudes of Ethiopia, Colombia, Kenya, and Guatemala. A milder flavor of coffee may be grown at lower altitudes such as Hawaii (scribblerscoffee.com).

When the plant is growing, the bean or seed grows inside what looks like a cherry. It is important to harvest these cherries at the proper time to be sure they are full and meaty. Typically, each cherry contains two beans, sometimes referred to as stones, with the flat sides together. A small percentage of the fruit have single beans inside, known as a pea berry. Many believe that these single bean fruits carry the most flavorful beans. It is unknown if this is because there is less of a bean and more of the cherry meat to infuse the bean with flavor. The two most common coffee plants are Arabica and Robust. As the name suggests, Robusta consists of higher caffeine than the Arabica bean, however it is produces about 40% of the worlds coffee whereas the Arabica plant produces about 60% (Wikipedia.org).

The Arabica plant is typically grown in what is known as the coffee belt. This range of mountains is in Central and South America, also Southern Asia, some Pacific islands and areas of southern Africa. Higher altitudes mean an enhanced flavor in the coffee bean (scribblerscoffee.com). One may not be able to tell which country the bean was grown in when drinking their cup of coffee, but they will know whether they enjoy the brew. It is clear to tell those that take pride and lovingly nurture their coffee plants. They are knowledgeable of where to grow, when to harvest, and the roasting technique.

Everyone that drinks it has different preferences when it comes to coffee. Some prefer a milder flavor; some prefer a stronger jolt in their cup. Some folks drink coffee to wake up and get through their day, while others prefer coffee as their primary source of beverage. Coffee is much like alcohol in the sense that most people have their own opinion on it. There are those that are turned away by it and those that enjoy it. There are also those that tolerate it simply so they may benefit from the energy levels they get from it. To those that tolerate coffee rather than enjoy it, please consider researching other brands and roasts of coffee. It really does make a difference.

The Proof is in the Brew

One thing that coffee connoisseurs can all agree on is that there is a noticeable difference in the process of growing, harvesting and roasting of the ever more desirable coffee bean. One can tell when they’ve drank a cup of coffee that was made from instant coffee powder and quickly chosen from the grocery shelf versus a coffee that was carefully chosen after researching different blends and testing flavors, then brewed lovingly either as a cold brew, slow drip, poured over, or whichever is their preference. Some say coffee has a very distinctive smell, others say that it smells like heaven!

Sources

https://www.mrcoffee.com/blog/archive/2015/may/what-makes-a-great-coffee-bean%3F.html
https://scribblerscoffee.com/blogs/news/the-effect-of-altitude-on-coffee-flavor
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffee_bean

Image Credits:

Coffee Beans and Cup [ID 165232 © Robert Redelowski | Dreamstime.com]
Steaming Cup of Coffee [ID 133875277 © Chalermchai Thaisamrong | Dreamstime.com]