Coffee cultivation is not an exact science, but it has a tremendous impact on coffee quality. Although there are many factors and conditions that are likely to lead to the production of high quality coffee, there are many things that affect the taste of coffee that would appear to be more or less random. As powerful as it can be when sipped hot in the morning, it is a very adaptive crop, and when it comes to producing the highest quality, most expensive coffee, here are a some factors that influence it more than others.
1. Immediate Environment
The taste of this unique beverage is heavily influenced by the soil that the trees grow in. Mineral content, different pH levels and even the crops that grow near coffee can significantly influence the taste and aroma of the brew we drink. For instance, coffee which is grown in India at times has a peppery taste, as it grows below the forest canopy beside pepper trees. Also, coffee that is grown at the highlands in Mexico can have a slight chocolaty flavor since it grows close to cacao trees which are used to make chocolate.
Local climate is another major reason why coffees from region to region can have such different tastes. Countries that have a distinctive winter and summer may frequently have a shorter growth period, compared to countries that have slightly less temperate weather. This can affect production quantity. Larger temperature difference between day and night are known to improve the quality of coffee.
Altitude also plays a significant role in taste. Normally, higher altitude areas produce better tasting coffee, since Arabica is the type of that grows at higher altitudes. Arabica and Robusta are the two commercially available strains of coffee. They are different in very significant ways. Arabica grows on a tree at elevation and is considered to be the higher quality of the two strains. It generally tastes better than Robusta, and between the two, Arabica is the more expensive coffee. Also, it is generally more difficult to grow Arabica coffee as compared to Robusta. Robusta grows on a shrub at lower altitudes than Arabica. Robusta shrubs produce a larger harvest than Arabica trees. Robusta shrubs frequently produce a bitter coffee which gives a drying sensation when consumed. It is often associated with cheap, supermarket coffee. However, it is important to note that some Robusta from certain coffee plantations in India is pleasant and costly.
4. Method of Processing Coffee
The method of processing as well as the techniques of the individual farmer also influence the taste, aroma, and quality of coffee. A plantation which cuts corners and dries the coffee beans artificially or otherwise rushes the drying process can produce worse tasting coffee than a plantation in the same area which raises and harvests the beans properly.
A customer who is ready to spend the money to buy high quality coffee should consider that the growing and cultivation processes have a great impact on coffee’s flavor and quality. It is a good idea to look for types of coffee that have good reputations to ensure that the coffee will be of the desired quality. Some of the better known coffees are Kona, Jamaican Blue Mountain, Ethiopian Limu, Kenya AA, Costa Rican SHB. Coffees from Myanmar, Laos, Nepal, Indian, El Salvador, and Papua New Guinea are also of generally high quality and should be considered for variety.