Travel with your taste buds for this coffee tour of the globe!
One of the best parts about travelling is experiencing the local cuisine. While your mind might conjure a vision of savoury delights and sweet treats, we’re here to explore the coffee! Did you know that coffee beans develop unique characteristics depending on where they grow in the world?
We hope you’re ready to nerd out with us. Read along as we dive into the rich tradition of coffee and how it’s cultivated around the globe. We will touch on a brief history of coffee farming, how coffee beans are roasted to bring out their flavor, and the differences you’ll see across coffee growing regions.
Take an international trip from the comfort of your home. We bet you’ll be craving a nice cup of coffee by the time you’re done!
A Brief History About Coffee
While many of us think of coffee as the dark, fragrant bean we find on grocery store shelves, it takes a bit of work to get it that way. In its natural form coffee is a cherry-like fruit that becomes red when ripe. The bean we think of is found at the center of that red fruit and looks green before it’s roasted.
While it may never be known exactly who first discovered coffee, the two major species of coffee plants cultivated around the world (Coffea arabica and C. canephora; family Rubiaceae) are tropical evergreen shrubs or small trees of African origin (Britannica).
Coffee roasting, in the contemporary sense, began back in the 13th century and originated in Arabia. The competitive European coffee trade didn’t gain momentum until later in the 1600s when the Dutch founded the first European-owned coffee estates in Sri Lanka, Ceylon, and Java followed by the French in the Caribbean, the Spanish in Central America, and the Portuguese in Brazil (PBS).
Soon afterwards, European coffee houses sprang up in Italy and France, where they skyrocketed in popularity and laid the foundation for the commercial coffee industry we all enjoy today.
How Coffee Is Roasted
Before we can use those fragrant grounds to make a yummy cup-of-joe, the beans must first be roasted.
Roasting coffee beans is the process to enhance the physical and chemical characteristics of the coffee. The roasting process, combined with the growing region, are what come together to bring out the unique flavor of a particular coffee bean.
A barely roasted green coffee bean is what yields a light roast. Light roast coffee is more acidic, lighter brown in color, and typically contains more caffeine.
Roasting coffee beans for a long time will result in a dark roast which tends to be less acidic, deeper brown in color, and contains the least caffeine of all three roasting methods.
As the name would imply, medium roasts fall somewhere in the middle, which has made it the most common roast consumed worldwide. Medium roasted coffees are recognizable by their milk chocolate color and often have subtle caramel or cocoa flavors.
A coffee’s distinct aroma is an accumulation of the bean’s origin, the conditions in which it was grown, the processing method, and the roast level. While different coffees may be better suited to a light or dark roast, most gourmet coffee beans are at their best when medium roasted.
Why Choose Gourmet Coffee?
Gourmet coffee connotates a certain standard, one that well deserves its names.
Gourmet coffee is made from 100% Arabica beans from around the world. All Arabica beans are derived from two varieties: Arabica and Robusta. Robusta is the stuff you’re likely to find in your grocery store. Robusta beans are hardy, higher in caffeine content, and grown at lower elevations. Because they’re faster and easier to grow, they are the affordable bean seen in ordinary instant coffee, freeze-dried coffee, and affordable coffee blends.
Specialty gourmet coffee uses 100% Arabica beans grown in mountainous regions around the world. The best beans are grown on coffee trees that take longer to mature but produce higher quality, larger, and denser coffee beans with less caffeine. If you think the lower caffeine content is a downside, just remember that it is the caffeine that gives coffee a bitter taste.
100% Arabica coffee beans are renown for being smoother, tastier, and the number one choice of speciality coffee stores, coffee shops, and coffee afficionados around the world.
What Difference Does Region Make?
Like any other plant, there are specific climates best suited to the cultivation of coffee.
Our favorite caffeinated plant thrives in cool to warm tropical climates with rich soils and few pests. This is why the world’s Coffee Belt (major coffee growing regions) span along the equator. While they may share similar growing conditions, these regions still have many differences which impacts the taste and flavors in the coffee.
Much as it is with wine, the terroir a coffee bean is grown in will be detectable in the final product. Although unlike wine, the terroir isn’t the whole story for coffee. Processing can make a big difference in the final flavor. As processing traditions vary widely across coffee growing regions, these factors come together to produce very distinct, regional differences.
Climate conditions such as altitude, soil, and processing methods change the taste of your final cup, which is why each region of the world produces coffee with slightly different flavor profiles (Flavors Of Bogota).
Coffee From Around The World
The world Coffee Belt can be loosely divided into three global coffee-growing regions:
- East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula
- Southeast Asia and the Pacific
- Latin America
We’re going to delve even deeper into eight specific coffee regions, their characteristics, and some great-tasting brews you can order right here!
If you’re new to the world of coffee, Arabica might be the only name you recognize on this list. That’s okay, it’s to be expected since Arabica beans make up about 75% of world coffee production annually. As we mentioned, Arabica beans on their own produce high quality, gourmet coffee – although cheaper blends are mixed with another variety of coffee called Robusta.
Arabica beans hail from East Africa and Arabia, but this bean spread around the world after the introduction to Europe and American in the 18th century. Arabica brews tend to be smooth and less bitter due to the lower caffeine content, but as all gourmet coffee is made from 100% Arabica beans, flavor characteristics vary widely depending on where they’re grown in the world.
For Arabica coffees native to the Arabian peninsula, flavors tend to range from fruity to chocolatey and are usually crisp and full-bodied.
Gourmet Arabica Coffee
This Arabian gourmet coffee bean hails from the Sanani mountains and grows at an elevation of over 4500 ft. This gourmet brew showcases distinct chocolatey flavors with hints of ripe fruit. Perfect for those who love a rich cup of coffee with a full-bodied finish.
While not exactly from the Arabian peninsula, our Marrakesh Gourmet Blend is a notable fusion of medium roasted high-quality Arabica beans. Looking for a complex flavor profile? Look no further! This blend teases with hints of vanilla for a velvety smooth finish that captures the pulse of Marrakesh and its wonderfully diverse energy.
If you like a fresh-tasting coffee, then you should explore an African brew! Coffees from countries like Kenya and Ethiopia tend to be on the fruitier side with sharp tasting notes.
As many coffees from Africa are dry processed, this infuses the beans with flavours from the fruit. This, combined with the growing conditions, results in a coffee with big body and slight acidity. A lighter roast can bring out the floral flavors and natural sweetness found in African coffee.
Gourmet African Coffee
Our Kenya AA Coffee is picky in all the best ways. Only the highest-grade coffee beans are used in this medium roast to deliver a complex flavor with a wine-like acidity and delectable berry notes. Kenya AA coffee beans are high achievers, growing at mountain elevations of over 5000 ft. Kenya AA Coffee has worked hard for its reputation as one of the world’s best-tasting coffees, and it does not disappoint!
Have you ever given much thought to the shape of a coffee bean? Maybe not, but we’re here to change your mind. While most coffee beans are flat, about 5% are oval or pea shaped. This occurs when the cherry fruit produces only one oval shaped bean instead of 2 flat-faced halves. This rare pea-shaped coffee bean is called Peaberry and is usually separated to form its own distinct grade. Our Tanzanian Peaberry gourmet beans are harvested from the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro and produce a lively cup of coffee with a light acidity and pronounced aroma.
Picture the Caribbean and you’re probably imaging crystal blue waters and white sandy beaches. This paradise climate makes it a top vacation destination, but also lends highly favorable conditions to coffee production. It’s been argued that some of the most unique coffees in the world comes from the Caribbean, home to the famous Jamaican Blue Mountains which produce iconic and very sought-after coffees.
If you’re wondering what “unique” means, then know that the taste will still vary widely depending on the specific country the bean comes from, along with the processing tradition. In general, however, Caribbean coffees tend to be medium to full-bodied roasts with a balanced flavor palette.
Gourmet Caribbean Coffee
A Caribbean treasure you won’t want to miss! This fair-trade organic coffee demonstrates a uniform medium body with balanced flavor and pleasant acidity. The warm ocean currents, Caribbean winds, and year-round rainfall come together to create optimal growing conditions for this distinct coffee bean. Take a vacation every morning when you sip from a cup of Dominican Organic Fair-Trade Coffee!
This bag of beans is a best-seller for good reason! The Jamaican Blue Mountains are famous for producing high-grade coffee plants. This single origin coffee bean demonstrates a mild full-bodied flavor with a balanced profile and sparkling acidity. Part of what makes Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee so in-demand is the scarcity. Small farms at over 7000 ft above sea level mean a limited supply but produce some of the highest grown gourmet coffee beans in the world. Get a taste of the high life with this premium roast!
Central American Coffee
Central America differentiates itself from its Southern cousin by producing coffees that are complex and fruity, but slightly less sweet. Rich soils and warm growing conditions lend themselves to cocoa notes, but with a less pronounced chocolate flavor as is commonly seen in South American coffees. Overall, Central American coffee is light and balanced with clean flavors that range from spicy, fruity, and nutty. If you like an invigorating cup of coffee that won’t weigh you down, you can’t go wrong with a Central American roast.
Gourmet Central American Coffees
See what all the fuss is about with this best-seller from Costa Rica! These beans take longer to mature due to the high elevation they’re grown in. The resulting beans and hard and dense – which means locked-in flavor for some intensely tasty coffee. This gourmet brew is deliciously aromatic, perfectly balanced, with a hearty dose of acidity. Costa Rica coffee beans are some of the most sought-after in Central America. Now you can know why!
You can try another best-seller with our Guatemala Antigua gourmet coffee beans. Grown in the shade at elevations of over 4600 ft, this medium bodied coffee delivers a smoky flavor with strong chocolatey notes. Look no further for a satisfying cup of gourmet coffee that will balance perfectly with any breakfast.
If you’re taking a coffee tour around the world, you’re bound to stop by a few top-notch vacation spots. Hawaiian is famous for its tropical climate, rich culture, and dramatic volcanos. It’s the volcanoes, as a matter of fact, that contribute to the distinct profile of coffees grown in the region.
Volcanic soil is packed with minerals. This, combined with the plentiful rainfall, produces very full-bodied coffees. The nutrient rich soil grows healthy coffee trees, while the rain offers periodic respite from the sun. This perfect balance of sun, rain, and mild winds creates the optimal environment for coffee cultivation. If you’re not the type to shy away from flavor, then you need to try a gourmet Hawaiian coffee!
Gourmet Hawaiian Coffee
Enjoy this light/medium roast from one of the most sought-after growing regions in the world! These handpicked Kona Volcanic Estate gourmet coffee beans come from Hawaii’s Kona coast, a region that despite its size produces nearly 2000 lbs of coffee per acre annually. The Kona coast only has 3000 acres of production land, but the fertile volcanic soils and optimal growing conditions make it the world’s highest yield of Arabica beans per acre. Enjoy the complex aroma of this rich specialty coffee and consider yourself an afficionado!
Prepare yourself for a special treat! Allow yourself to be transported with the lush flavors of sweet coconut and buttery macadamia nuts blended with our premium Arabica gourmet coffee beans. This is a flavored coffee experience unlike anything else! No matter how cold it is outside, you’ll always have a tropical getaway in your cup.
Coffee cultivation in India is concentrated in the southern region of the country. Beans grown in this part of the world tend to exhibit moderate body and acidity and may include notes of cardamom, clove, pepper, and nutmeg with hints of tropical fruit.
What’s unique about Indian coffee is the tradition of ‘monsooning’ the coffee beans. Indian coffees are often left out in large, open-roof silos or in open warehouses during the monsoon season to be exposed to the moisture-laden winds. This results in a strengthening of the coffee’s sweetness, often resulting in intense woody and loamy flavors along with a weakening of acidity. This mild acidity and full body make monsooned Indian beans an excellent addition to espresso blends.
Gourmet Indian Coffee
As its name implies, this coffee is worth its weight in gold! From the Mysore gold mining region in southwest India, this rare gourmet bean is grown in the area known for producing the highest-grade coffee beans in India. The exposure to monsoon rains and wind produces a high-quality bean which after roasting delivers a spicy sweet, light bodied flavor with a silky-smooth finish.
Experience the drama of an Indian monsoon! The unique process of monsooning coffee beans results in a sweet, almost fermented fruity flavor. The India Malabar Monsooned Voyage coffee beans undergo a 16-week process during the monsoon season. Coffee beans are laid out on open trays in a warehouse to absorb moisture from the hot and humid air. This causes the beans to swell, after which they are left to dry for nearly 2 months. This results in a uniquely full-bodied coffee that you won’t find anywhere else!
Coffees from the region of Indonesian tend to be full, rich, and with mild acidity. The tropical climate they’re grown in has been seen to yield similar flavors as Indian coffee, with the addition of smoky notes imparted from the volcanic soils in regions like Sumatra.
Asian coffees, such as those from Sumatra, are some of the heaviest and most distinct out of the Indonesian varieties. The region imparts heavy, musty notes along with a rich body thanks to the volcanic soils it’s grown in. Feel like taking an exotic adventure? You may not have to look further that your morning cup of coffee!
Gourmet Indonesian Coffees
Our Organic Sumatra Black Satin Roast is fair-trade friendly and grown without the use of chemicals or pesticides. Sumatra coffee beans are distinct for their vibrant acidity, earthy aroma, and full-bodied taste. Enjoy a smooth dark roast with a velvety feel and light black pepper finish.
These beans are harvested from Albizza trees that grow on the mountain slopes of Papua New Guinea. These beans are handpicked several times during the growing season, hand sorted, and cupped daily to ensure consistency. Expect a mildly sweet, acidic flavor with fruity undertones. It’s your perfect mid-day pick-me-up!
South American Coffee
South American Coffees are some of the most popular, and for good reason. They tend to be of good body, boast a classic taste, and are a little sweeter with caramel and raw sugar notes. The region tends to favor washed and semi-washed processing, which produces a mellow acidity and clean taste.
Common flavors profiles seen in South American coffee include chocolate, nuts, and caramel and are best tasted in a medium roast. The palatable characteristics and classic coffee taste give South American coffee broad appeal. If you like a traditional cup of coffee, then you’re sure to enjoy a medium roast from South America.
Gourmet South American Coffees
If the Peruvian Andes are on your bucket list, then you have to start your journey with this organic coffee! This coffee is grown on the famous slopes of the Andes Mountains on small, family-owned farms. These organic beans are low in acidity and easy on the stomach for those more sensitive coffee lovers. The light to medium roast leaves you with a smooth finish and distinctly nutty tones. A customer favorite that’s good enough to drink black, or any other way you like!
Our Colombian Supremo coffee beans are the highest grade of Columbia coffee. Made by selecting only the largest, high mountain-grown supremo beans and wet-processed for richness and flavor. This medium roast is bursting with aroma for a well-balanced taste with full-body and acidity.
Taste A World Of Coffee
Can’t decide where to start? Luckily for you, we have just the cure for indecisiveness. Try our Around The World Coffee Sampler set and take a tour with your tastebuds. No need to decide right away when you can try them all!
Travel the world without leaving your kitchen!
Our World Collection Gourmet Coffee Gift Basket is the perfect way to sample the best from coffee growing regions around the world. Try something different and maybe you’ll find a new favorite. Our worldwide sampler includes 6 half pound coffee bags ranging from light to medium roast.
Shop our best-selling gourmet coffees and discover your new morning staple!