How to Buy Coffee Series - Step 2: Know Your Coffee’s Origin

Coffee grows in various tropical and subtropical regions throughout the world. Other than Hawaii and an experimental farm in California, coffee cannot be grown in the U.S., so we must import it. While shopping at your local grocery store, you might have noticed that not every bag of coffee will tell you where it’s from. Sometimes, this is because it's a blend and coming from a few different places. However, we are seeing a trend in specialty coffee where roasters are offering more information about the coffees on the bag. This may include not only the country of origin, but also the farm, the elevation at which it's grown, and the varietals.

Regional Coffee Profiles

Once you’ve chosen your preferred roast profile, you should consider the regions where coffee comes from, and what characteristics they typically have. Keep in mind that these rules are not hard and fast, as a coffee from two parts of a single farm can have dramatically different flavors. These guidelines should still serve as a helpful starting point though.

Latin America
(Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru…)

Being the closest coffee growing region to the U.S., Latin America has greatly influenced our coffee-flavor preferences.These coffees are usually very balanced, with a good mixture of sweet, chocolatey and nutty flavors. There can be some tart, fruity acidity, but comparatively, the acidity is relatively mild. They are often described as having a “clean” flavor.

Africa
(Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi…)

Coffee originated in Ethiopia and was then introduced to other regions around the globe through trade routes from the 1500-1800’s. In Ethiopia grows in the wild, which makes the flavor profile extremely diverse. African coffees are usually described as complex, fruity and floral. These are stronger, fragrant-rich and full-bodied coffees. 

Asia 
(Indonesia, India, East Timor…)

Asian coffees tend to be earthier. Unlike the more commonly liked and known Latin American coffees, Asian beans tend to inspire polarizing opinions. The beans are less acidic, more complex and, at times, even savory.

 

Here at Treeline we love all coffees. Seriously! They are all so amazing, unique and special in some way. 

That said, we tend to carry far more Latin American coffees, as we have great direct relationships with farmers there, and the flavor profiles are popular with our customers. We have a soft spot for many African coffees too, especially Ethiopians.