Flavor Profiles of Top Coffee Growing Regions Worldwide

The most sensitive ways to think about the countries that grow coffee is to sort them into the worlds principal growing regions: Africa, Asia, Central and South America. Coffee trees first began to grown in Central Africa and were first cultivated in the 14th century by Arab colonists in Eastern Africa and on the nearby Arabian Peninsula.

The dutch broke the commercial monopoly that had been established by Turkish merhants bringing coffee trees from the coast of India to their colonies in Indonesia, where they established plantations that came to dominate the world coffee trade during the 18th century.

Early in that century, one lone tree crossed the Atlantic ocean to the Caribbean, in a hemisphere where coffee had never been grown. By the end of the 1800’s, little more then a century later, Central and South America had achieved their current world supremacy.

Beans taste different depending on where they grow. What determines flavor is the species and variety of coffee tree, the kind of soil its grown in, the climate and altitude of the plantation, the care with which the fruit is picked and how the beans are processed. The higher the growing regions, according to the rule of thumb, the more delicate the flavor.

South America

Coffees from South America possess a full spectrum of taste from fruit and earth to nut, vanilla and chocolate. They are extremely aromatic with a medium to heavy body.

Colombia has been enormously successful in marketing itself as a producer of fine coffees and the country’s coffees are consistently well processed.

Brazil is the worlds biggest coffee supplier, with 30 to 35 percent of the worlds production, leading to the legendary expression : “When Brazil sneezes, the world coffee prices go up”.

Bolivian coffee has just started to make a name for itself in the world of specialty coffees. It has been transformed from an underpriced, underachiever to a recognized name in the market, a unique cup character at full bloom. Bolivia has all the ingredients to be a high quality coffee producer, such as altitude, fertile soil, and a consistent rainy season.

Brazil – Sul de Minas Gerais

This coffee has low acidity and medium body. It has a soft fruit, nutty and chocolaty flavor.

Known for more than 100 years as Brazil’s “Green Gold”, these beans are grown at the top of the hills of the region of Sul de Minas. The careful cultivation of Sul de Minas seeds and the harvesting of their beans has remained unchanged for generations. Brazil coffee can be nutty, sweet, low in acidity, and develop exceptional bittersweet and chocolate roast tastes

The dry fragrance at medium roasts has a candy peanut scent and a little banana fruit note. At dark roasts, the aromatics are like a soft, darker, milk chocolate. There is a touch of smoke in the wet aroma, but basically it has a nutty roast tone. The cup flavors are nutty in lighter roasts and more chocolatey in darker roast.

Brazil Decaffeinated

This coffee has low acidity and medium body. It has a soft fruit, nutty and caramelly flavor.

Decaf Brazil is a mild cup, and one of the best uses is for decaf blends (espresso, or to add body to darker roast drip brewed decaf mix).

It has great espresso use to create low-caf or decaf blends with body and depth. If you like a very soft espresso cup, you will enjoy this as straight decaf espresso. There is a slightly fruity, caramelly sweetness. For espresso, it produces the adequate crema you usually enjoy savoring a perfect espresso cup.

Colombia Supremo

This coffee has Sharp Acidity and Heavy Body with lightly fruited flavor

Colombia supremo has large beans, consistently good taste, strong body and sharp acidity making it a very good daily coffee. This is the coffee many now-serious coffee connoisseurs became hooked on before totally abandoning mass produced store bought coffee grounds.

In the wet aroma there is the scent of the fruit candies, cane sugar and peaches. It’s a fantastically clean, transparent cup with refined sweetness. At darker roasts, the grain sweetness is gone and what lingers is more like refined sugar, an elegant sipping coffee. Light apricot fruit flavors persist along with a mild orange accent and the aftertaste lasts for some time, thought it is effervescently light.

Colombia Decaffeniated

This coffee has low acidity, velvety body with a cherry like sweet flavor

Right away, one can notice a caramel and malty sweet note, with just a hint of molasses and fruit, in the dry fragrance. This continues through the wet aroma, and into the cup, where sweetness, mild, cherry like fruit and a nice velvety body truly appear. There’s a mild cocoa and chocolate note, mainly in the aftertaste.

Bolivia – Caranavi

This coffee has medium acidity and a silky body. It also has bright and fruity flavors

Very clean, delicate fruity and aromatically sweet, Bolivian coffee from the region of Caranavi gives a drink clear as a bell. It stays sweet and beautifully pure.

The dry fragrance has ample chocolate and nut, evenly balanced. The wet aroma adds to this a fine apple blossom scent. The cup has a well-defined sweetness with apple like brightness and has a light brown sugar quality, slightly caramelly, with a refined, silky mouthfeel.

It has medium weight to the body, fairly light in fact, but this suits the overall cup character well. As it cools, one starts to get peach flavors, and some mild plum and apricot. In fact, this cup really “opens up” as it cools, intensifies and sweetens in flavor. There is a pleasant tart dryness in the finish.

Central America

This coffee provides coffee that is well balanced and is the best choice for a first time coffee drinker. The flavors range from fruity and sweet to chocolaty and nutty. Some countries, especially Costa Rica and Nicaragua, produce coffees of legendary completeness.

Costa Rica, the Switzerland of coffee producing countries, rarely produces out of balance coffee. It is clear as a bell, neither too full bodied, nor very acidic. Even as the coffee cools, it stays sweet and beautifully pure.

Nicaragua also produces excellent coffee. In recent years, Nicaragua renovated its coffee industry, privatizing it again after years of state control.

Nicaragua – Matagalpa

This coffee has powerful acidity with heavy body. It also has super intense fruit and chocolate flavor.

Roasters focus on the beans of Central America, especially those of Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Guatemala which produce coffee of legendary completeness. Heavy in body, balanced and aromatic with a powerful acidity, coffee from Nicaragua make most coffee tasters easily forget something else. While tasting this incomparable coffee, you can consider yourself warned! This is a true fruit bomb.

While the dry fragrance has ample sweetness, cane sugar notes, and mild floral and fruit hints, the wet fragrance has a real bloom of floral and fruited (strawberry) sweetness. It has pear fruit notes, caramel sweetness, with a powerful acidity that gives it definite “spine”, and an attractive, syrupy body. The sweetness and sense of a “complete” cup are both clear in this coffee.

Costa Rica Tarrazu

This coffee has bright acidity with a balanced and creamy body. It has a nutty and berry like sweet flavor.

This hard bean has a fine acidity, full body and vibrant flavors which give it a distinctive character, well balanced and sweety smooth. It is hard to get a bad cup of coffee from Costa Rica, which for the consistency of its processing is called the “Switzerland” of coffee producing countries.

It’s a coffee one could drink all day long. The dry fragrance has berry fruit to it, dark sugar sweetness and roasted almond. The cup needs some time to cool down for the flavors to really open up. It strikes as extremely balanced in the body initially.

The roast flavors are more nut based in tonality, between a very mild roasted peanut and hazelnut. And more then anything, the cup is sweet.

Southeast Asia

Coffee was introduced to Southeast Asia to the island of Java by Dutch colonists in the 17th century. Coffee bushes flourished throughout the island, and Indonesia is the 5th largest producer of coffee in the world.

Arabica coffee used to be a major crop until the famous coffee rust outbreak in 1887. It now accounts for only 10 percent of output, although signs are that Arabica production is starting to increase, driven by global demand for single origin and specialty coffees.

Sumatra Mandheling – Indonesia

This coffee has Low Acidity with Massive Body. It is fruity and sweet with spicy flavor.

Sumatra is the herbal funk of the coffee world and Mandheling is the absolute finest of the naturally processed Sumatran beans. These works of art get their fruity flavor from the rich volcanic slopes near Mount Leuser, one of the highest peaks of land in the Indian ocean.

These beans are double handpicked to ensure the highest quality. The intense fruit flavor, the syrupy taste, the herbal finesse and the massive body make this variety a great gourmet bean for aspiring coffee connoisseurs.

Medium roasts have a spicey sweet flavor. The cup is impressive for the balance of sweet and dark spicy notes: Cinnamon, allspice, clove etc. The acidity is very low, the body very intense and the after taste lingering.

Southwest Asia

What are the most important products in Southwest Asia? Coffee and Bananas

Unfortunately, the only country that produces coffee worth mentioning in this area is Yemen. Prior to the mid 17th century, no coffee had been grown outside of Yemen and Ethiopia. The Yemenite rulers had implemented strict measures to protect their monopoly and prevent the export of coffee cherries and bushes.

All the coffee beans exported from the Red Sea ports had first to be roasted or boiled so that they would not germinate if anyone tried to plant them elsewhere. The dutch managed to steal germinated coffee beans and it was from these berries that the vast coffee plantations of the Indonesian archipelago grew. Meanwhile, the bustling port of Mocha in Yemen lived in blissful ignorance of this new competition.

Yemen’s golden age lasted until 1750, when Dutch Plantations in Indonesia began to lure the traders away from Arabia. And so the city of Mocha, with the name that will always be emblematic of coffee, gradually slipped back in oblivion, and the desert sands settled once more over its streets and houses.

Yemen – Anesi

This coffee has low acidity and heavy body. It is wild, fruity with spice flavors

Let us say the Yemeni coffees are one of the most distinct and prized coffees in the world. This is what we call a wild or natural cup: earthy, complex and overpowering, to some it may even be strange and bitter. Either way, do yourself a favor and try it sometime, but don’t blame me if you become addicted.

I found its unique cup’s character appealing, and it seemed to have a dark sweetness to it. It was caramelly and slightly fruited, later seeming like a light molasses. There are cardamon, bitter sweet dark herbs, spiced chocolate and fresh ginger notes. Spicey black peppers, with a dark berry like fruited note.

The dry fragrance is a bit unusual, and it may take a minute to adjust, to better understand these extreme and exotic smells with leather, dried herbs, dusty sweetness, caramel, spice, aromatic sandalwood and ginseng.


Political difficulties in most of these countries make quality and availability uncertain from year to year. Political and military problems can threaten a whole season’s supply. Civil wars can make coffee vanish for years at a time, bringing yet more misery to countries that rely on the income that coffee generates.

The beans of this continent provides sparkle, melody and excitement to our daily lives. Their flavor profiles, depending on the country, present such flavors as blueberry, spice, vanilla, wine and lemony citrus. These coffees are a great way to expand your palate and knockout your senses.

If the coffee you buy from Ethiopia, it will be one of the two most common Ethiopians: Harrar and Djmmah. Harrar is by far the most sought after, for its “blueberry” flavor and its wild taste

Kenyan coffee is higher in sparkling acidity than any bean in the world, except those from Costa Rica and Guatemala. Altitude certainly helps explain the superiority of Kenyan beans since Kenya has extremely high coffee growing plains. The sorting washing and preparation of the beans is of a sophistication matched only in Costa Rica, Colombia, Jamaica, Hawaii and a few other countries that have, like Kenya, put government support behind the coffee trade.

No other African country inspires the coffee loyalty and enthusiasm of Ethiopia and Kenya, but Uganda produces coffee that can be noteworthy. Coffee from Uganda resembles the one from Ethiopia: good ones have a sweet fruity taste and a full body.

Kenya – AA

This coffee has sparkling acidity with modest body. It has a sweet orange, spicy and winy flavor

Kenya is the East Africa powerhouse of the coffee world. Everything is a topnotch, from the cup to the way they run their trade. In general, this is a bright coffee that lights up the palate from front to back. It is not for people who do not like acidity in coffee. A great Kenyan coffee is complex and has interesting fruit (berry, citrus) flavors, sometimes alternating with spice. Clean and bright, Kenya AA beans have cherished winy flavors.

The fragrance has caramel apple and vanilla bean notes, and strongly sweet scents of cinnamon and cane sugar. The cup has ripe, fresh orange juice, bright and sweet, laced with rose like floral flavors. Cinnamon spice emerges in the aftertaste, and a twist of bracing orange peel as well. An almond roast note lingers in the background, paired with modest but substantial body.

Ethiopia – Harrar

This coffee has medium acidity and full body. It also has an intense syrupy flavor.

The original coffee bean that hooked the world, it was discovered growing among the goats more than 1000 years ago in what is today called Ethiopia.

Boasting a sweet, rich, smooth, full bodied, fruity flavor, Harrar is by far the most sought after, mainly for what experts call is “blueberry” flavor.

Take one sniff of the fragrance when grinding it and you will know. The result is amazing. The dry fragrance is heavily fruited, with intense blueberry and apricot jam scents and vanilla sweetness. The wet aroma is like sweet syrup, saturated with a raw honey, it has hints of blueberry, passion fruit, red licorice, anise, peach and apricot.

The cup is fantastically fruited with a soft, full mouthfeel and an ample sweetness. As it cools, lemony citrus flavors come out, or rather honey sweetened, homemade lemonade. It also does amazingly well as an aromatic component in espresso.

Uganda – Mount Elgon

This coffee has low acidity and full body. It is also sweet with a fruity flavor.

From the region of Mount Elgon, farmers in Uganda have improved upon their traditions and launched Uganda’s coffee industry insuring a great quality. Uganda’s coffee is intense in character, rustic, heavy in body and low in acidity.

The dry fragrance has a clean, lemon cookie scent, softly fruited and nicely sweet, a chocolate biscuit quality in the dry grounds and a plum like dark fruit in the wet aroma. There’s definitely a wild note in there, something a little woodsy and rustic lurking in the background.

The Caribbean

In the Caribbean, the landing point of the first beans in the Western Hemisphere, Jamaica is the most famous producer of coffee. Unlike most other islands, it has mountains high enough to produce superb beans: the Blue Mountains.

The Caribbean is generally grouped with the other coffee legend, Hawaii, the source of the only grown coffee in the United States. Like Jamaica Blue Mountain, Kona Coffee, which is cultivated on volcanic slopes, is scarce and expensive because of Hawaii’s astronomical labor costs. Bean quality is very high, because processing careful everywhere.

Jamaica – Blue Mountain

This coffee has low to medium acidity with good body. It has a floral sweet flavor.

It is an excellent mild, luxurious coffee and it certainly isn’t a crime to pay a high price for this coffee. True Blue Mountain is an unusual coffee, it ahs good body and some very interesting mild nutty flavors with herbal notes that remind you sometimes of chamomile, sometimes of spice.

It has the soft cup profile. But remember, this is an “island profile” coffee; smooth, mild and balanced. The bean has some floral aromatics, sweetness in the wet aroma and a nice aftertaste.

Hawaii – Kona

In Hawaii, they grow nuts, fruit and coffee. And honestly, you must pay quite a bit for the truly great small farm Kona.

In historical sense, coffees like Kona are the summit of a particular definition of what is “good coffee” is: clean, mild, pleasant, a thick body and a good aftertaste.

Dry fragrance from this coffee has a muted fruity quality, with a dusting of cocoa powder. It has a sweet grain, maple syrup, dark honey and a chocolate note. You can sense a bit of sweet melted butter and a touch of chamomile tea. The cup has a very low acidity, rustic sweetness and oily body.