Imagine for a moment a world without a hot cup of coffee in the morning. Now slap yourself and never do that again. There aren’t many things that come close to the satisfying taste of a fresh pot of organic coffee in the morning.
Any coffeeholic will tell you that their day is a mess if they miss that refreshing aroma in the morning. The truth is that your morning coffee ritual in danger of becoming a delicacy that only the rich and famous can afford.
Yes, climate change is rearing its ugly head again. With worldwide droughts on the rise, it is becoming increasingly difficult and more expensive for coffee bean farmers to produce their beans. They have to come up with innovative ways to water their plants and still produce quality beans.
But while you can still enjoy your morning cuppa, there are a number of coffee-producing regions that you need to try out. Coffee is like wine, and if you are a coffee snob, you can distinguish between a great cup of coffee that is suited for those extra special occasions and a brew that is made for everyday consumption.
Here is a list of some of the world’s best coffee regions and what you can expect from their produce.
Ethiopia is probably the world’s most famous coffee region, but it might have something to do with the fact that it is the birthplace of coffee. They have been doing it for years and have perfected the art of the perfect brew.
They are currently the world’s 7th largest producer and if you are lucky enough to be in the EU, Asia or the USA, you should be able to find a vendor.
What makes their coffee so special is that the production is still done by hand – everything from cultivating the plants to the drying process.
Nevertheless, not all Ethiopian coffee is the same and there are some special varieties that are trademarked by the Ethiopian government.
If you can get your hands on Harar, Yirgacheffe, or Limu beans, you are in for a real treat. These beans are even marketed under their specific regional names. Look out for the Harar Mocha variety is you enjoy complex coffee, citrus and spice notes.
Although Kenya is not the world’s biggest coffee producer, they still deliver around 112 million pounds of coffee annually. The majority of Kenya’s coffee is produced around Mount Kenya. The high altitude, warm climate, and soil make for the perfect environment to grow coffee.
Kenya is most known for its Arabica variety due to the fact that the Arabica tree prefers to grow in areas with an altitude between 3000 and 6000 feet. The trees are quite susceptible to frost and cannot tolerate temperatures that are too high either.
This is one of the world’s coffee hot spots that are in danger due to climate change. Nevertheless, when it comes to the coffee itself, you can expect a medium-bodied coffee, which sometimes has a slight citrus note.
In most areas, the coffee is brewed using the Kahawa Chungu method, which results in a delicately balanced bitter coffee. Kenyan coffee is graded by the Coffee Board of Kenya, but if you are looking for the good stuff, then look out for a PB or AA grade coffee.
Columbia is another region where you can expect to find mild and well-balanced coffee beans. They are the world’s largest producer of Arabica beans and the second-largest producer of coffee in the world. In 2007, their coffee was granted the coveted protected designation of origin status.
In short, that means that the coffee from Columbia is unique and it has a distinct flavor. It was first reported that climate change would affect the coffee industry in Columbia as the average temperature of coffee regions rose by 1 degree Celsius and they also experienced a 25% increase in rain.
It was though that the change could curb the production rate due to the fragile nature of the Arabica plant, production actually increased.
Harvesting is still done by hand in most regions as the trees grow on steep hills that prevent mechanized production from entering the process. In the end, only the finest beans make it to your pantry and you can enjoy a taste of the products from the crisp foothills of Columbia.
Guatemala is one of the lesser-known, or smaller coffee producing regions in the world, but that does not mean that their coffee is second-tier. They still produce around 2.7% of the world’s coffee.
The typical varieties that one can expect to come from Guatemala are Bourbon, Caturra, Catuai, Typica, Maragogype, Pache & Pacamara. These varieties are mostly Arabica beans and are prepared using the washed method.
Still, natural and semi-washed methods are gaining steam in the region, seeing that it has proved to produce some fine tasting coffee. The washed method involves the beans being stripped from the cherry and then being washed to remove and remaining pectin before the beans are dried.
The washed beans produce vibrant flavors and are prized for their consistency. The coffee that is produced also has some fruity notes to accompany the already crisp flavor. Antigua is the most famed region in Guatemala. The volcanic soil enriches the beans and produces a taste, unlike any other.
Costa Rica is the world’s 13th largest coffee producer. Their coffee is prized around the world as being some of the finest. Their farms are small and run by local producers who have ties to cooperatives who are involved with far trade organizations.
Organizations like Fairtrade International help sustain the coffee industry with environmental, health and safety regulations. These cooperatives also come together to bargain better prices for the farmers.
Most of the berries are also hand-picked and then sent to processing plants where they are washed and the pulp is removed. The beans are then either sun-dried or machine-dried from where they are sorted according to size and packed to be shipped.
Costa Rican coffees are known for their mild flavors and slight acidity. They are perfectly suited for that afternoon kick back and go extremely well with desserts. Modern farmers are also experimenting with new flavors that are more vibrant and fruity, so you might find some interesting brews soon.
Honduras produces around 4% of the world’s coffee and is ranked 7th in the world for exports. With so many people dependent on the coffee industry, together with their rich soil and perfect weather conditions. Honduras is an untapped goldmine waiting to explode.
In recent history, their coffee was not of the best quality and lack of infrastructure curbed their producing potential.
However, with more than 90% of the coffee farms being run by small families, there is a turn coming. They rely on family labor to harvest and cultivate the beans and have recently received government funding for training acquiring processing equipment.
The average coffee farmer is becoming younger as they see the investment potential of the industry. With the help of the IHCAFE, Honduran coffee has improved tremendously and today, they are building a reputation of being one of the world’s leading specialty coffee producers.
In 2014, Indonesia became the 4th largest producer of coffee in the world. They have been producing coffee for over 400 years and have changed little in the way they produce their coffee over the years. Around 25% of their exports are Arabica, with the rest being robusta coffee varieties.
Their mountainous regions provide the ideal growing conditions for coffee and most of the coffee production is still organic. The Indonesian Arabica variety coffees are generally strong bodied with low acidity. This makes them ideal to be used in blends from Central America and East Africa.
All the Arabica coffee is hand-picked, but their processing thereafter is what gives the various farms their distinct flavors. The robusta coffee is almost exclusively naturally dried in the berry and de-hulled when the berry is dry.
However, the Kopi Luwak process is the most unorthodox process and involves animals who eat ripe coffee beans and then excrete the coffee bean. Coffee experts believe the natural digestive process produces the smoothest and mild cup.
Rwandan coffee has a bittersweet history and part of history is the reason why their coffee is some of the most sought after in the world. In the coffee-producing world, Rwanda is probably the youngest nation to produce commercial coffee.
Today there are over 400,000 smallholders who produce the bulk of coffee for export. Today, the most prominent variety of coffee that comes out of Rwanda is Bourbon.
The majority of the coffee is wet-processed at communal washing stations due to financial constraints. These communal stations have given the producers the needed equipment to produce some of the world’s finest coffees.
Rwandan coffee is generally fruity with rich caramel and white chocolate aftertaste, perfect for a dessert pairing.