Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world and within the tropical zone is a widely grown agricultural product. Coffee origins cover Central America, South America, Africa, India, South East Asia and even Australia. Each region offers different characteristics, for example Brazilian coffee produces a mild taste, good sweetness and great body, a very good coffee to use as a base in an espresso blend. Whereas coffee from Costa Rica commonly produces a very hard bean containing bright and delicate characteristics, such as crisp citrus notes, floral tones, and light nutty sweetness. Brighter coffee is used in espresso blends to give the flavour a distinct lift.
To speak in general terms, farms from a region often share the same taste characteristics but every farm within that region will produce beans that contain a slightly different flavour profile. The same farm may produce crops that yield a different flavour from season to season, this highlights the fact that coffee is an agricultural product and therefore from year to year environmental factors will play a big part in determining coffee flavour. Every coffee growing area attains distinctly different attributes, for example some of the world’s most unique flavours come from Central Africa, the high floral tones of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe and the remarkable berry notes of the Kenyan Peaberry.
The only way to truly understand the differing qualities of coffee is to purchase single origin beans, consuming it as plunger or filter at home. Once you have circumnavigated the coffee world you will have developed a favouritism towards a couple of coffee origins. Talk with your coffee roaster to find out what their star single origins are, and ask to what degree they are roasted. Flavours of the same bean can dramatically change according to the degree of roast.