Coffee Climates: Where Does the Best Coffee Grow?
Ever wonder what really gives different coffees different characteristics, from appearance to flavor to aroma? Well, there isn’t a magic formula, but it all starts with the plant itself, namely, the specific conditions in which the coffee plant is grown.
Everything from the variety and chemistry of the soil, to the amount of sunshine and rainfall, and even the precise altitude at which the coffee is grown all have an effect on the ultimate product. Today, we’re going to address climate, in particular, what sorts of climates are conducive to the production of quality coffee.
As you may already know, there are hundreds of coffee species, but there are two primary ones that are most widely produced and sold—Arabica and Robusta, and each type grows in specific climates.
Arabica coffee grows in the area of the world referred to as “The Coffee Belt,” located between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. This area encompasses the sections of Africa, South America, Central America, and Asia where some of the world’s best coffees grow. Within this section, there are two distinct climate types for Arabica coffee—equatorial, and subtropical.
In the equatorial regions, there is continuous rainfall, allowing coffee trees to constantly flower. The ideal altitude that encourages coffee trees to mature slowly, thereby locking in flavor is 3,600 to 6,300 ft. Due to the high altitudes, these coffee trees are exposed to lower temperatures between 60° and 75°F. Some of the countries that span this region are Colombia, Ethiopia, and Kenya.
On the other hand, there are subtropical regions, in which there are defined wet and dry seasons. Unlike the equatorial region, these coffees grow at lower altitudes of about 1,800 – 3,600 ft. Some of the nations in the subtropical region include Brazil, Mexico, and Zimbabwe.
Compared to Arabica, robusta coffee is much easier to grow. They are less vulnerable to pests, they can withstand harsh weather conditions, they prefer warm temperatures, they can produce fruit much faster than Arabicas, and they yield much more crop per tree. Robusta coffees can successfully grow at lower altitudes no higher than 3,000 ft. above sea level, and at no more than 10° north or south of the equator. Robusta coffee is grown solely in the eastern hemisphere, and predominantly in Africa and Indonesia.
Growing coffee without regard to providing the plant with optimal conditions will certainly result in poor quality, harsh tasting coffee, and a much lower yield. Coffee is produced in over 50 countries around the world, and these various environmental conditions result in a wide range of unique coffee flavors and fragrances.
Whether or not there is a certain place where the world’s best coffee grows is up for debate, though you may have your personal favorite. At CoffeeAM, we want to help you appreciate the characteristics of coffees from different parts of the world, so visit us today for a delicious selection of global delights.