With the seemingly endless amount of coffee beans produced in a plethora of growing regions each year to keep up with the demand of billions, coffee aficionados strive to find the best of the best.
One might wonder, “why don’t these people just grow their own coffee?” And while that is a legitimate question, growing coffee is a complicated process that can only be done successfully in certain parts of the world, specifically areas between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.
This area is known by several names, such as the “bean belt” or “coffee belt,” but all refer to the same area.
This equator encompassing section on earth meets the demands of the picky Arabica coffee plant, and allows for profitable and tasty growing. People who spend their lives in search of finding the best growing region for coffee oftentimes have conflicting opinions.
Though, some of the names that seem to come up most often are Ethiopia, Kenya, Guatemala, and Colombia.
For many, Ethiopia is number one on a list of best growing regions. Coffee was first discovered in southern Ethiopia, specifically coffee of the Arabica variety, meaning it is the absolute birthplace of coffee, and has been grown there for thousands of years and perfected.
All other Arabica coffee grown in other places is essentially just a sort of copy; changing after adapting to the foreign climate and surrounding plants.
Ethiopian coffee will usually have sweet fruit notes, as well as floral aromas, and will be full bodied, full flavored, bold, but also very balanced. Coffee from Ethiopia is the most “pure” coffee anyone can get.
Guatemala’s growing conditions are quite unique to the region; having miles and miles of nutrient rich volcanic soil, and a plethora of hilly landscapes. Containing several microclimates, such as Antigua, Guatemalan coffee will usually have notes of coco and spices with a sweetly balanced and full bodied profile.
Coffee in Kenya is grown on the foothills of Mt. Kenya, and thanks to research done about a century ago, the perfect coffee plant variety for Kenya was engineered.
This variety, known as SL28, puts Kenya high up in the list for many, and also put the country on the map of fantastic coffee. Kenyan coffee undergoes a strictly controlled and monitored processing system, in which all of the coffee is guaranteed to taste amazing. Kenyan coffee will usually have a very bright and acidic taste, coupled with a pleasant full body.
Colombia is one of the most widely known coffee producing nation, and is usually the first place to pop into people’s heads when growing regions are brought up.
Like many other areas, coffee in Colombia is grown on smaller farms, in which a high standard for quality is a dominating factor. Colombian coffee is known to be quite soft on the palate with a bright acidity, and will have notes of fresh fruit as well. Though, Colombia is home to some of the most diverse microclimates, meaning that beans from a farm a few miles away might taste completely different.
Keep in mind that a favorite growing region is completely personal preference, putting the drinker’s opinion far above that of any coffee master.