Last month we highlighted a basic guide to coffee tasting, and what to look out for. Building on this, another important aspect to consider is the place in which the coffee came from and its effect on flavour.
Terroir in coffee, as in wine, is a word that articulates everything about the geographic region of a particular bean: its soil, the weather conditions, climate and altitude - all of which imparts its characteristics to the taste and character of the coffee. Knowing the general characteristics of coffee regions can help you as you pick out coffee and learn what you like best.
As there are literally thousands of coffee varietals, grouping them by large geographical areas of terroir is difficult; however there are some very broad characteristics that stand out in major coffee-growing areas of the world. For example, coffees from Kenya tend to be citrusy and Brazil a caramel, nutty sweetness.
The other considerations that may impact the coffee flavour is the access to water and it’s cleanliness, grown in sunlight or shade, type of pruning and flora and fauna around them. These things will influence the coffee producer’s decision about which processing method to use. These factors and the processing method used can determine flavour. We find Brazil has a tendency towards pulped natural processing giving a peanut quality and full body. For this reason Brazil is a common component in blends as it gives body and mouthfeel to the blend.