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There are over 50 countries where coffee beans are grown, but the majority of commercially available coffees come from a few very industrialized countries that have not only perfect growing conditions, but also keep a consistent flavor to their beans through mass-farming and quality control methods.
In Eastern Africa and the Middle East, the coffee is widely considered to be outstanding. Alluring and complex, the coffees from this part of the world can contain wonderful flavors, such as blueberries, citrus fruits, cocoa, and spices, which keep drinkers guessing. Kenya, Ethiopia and Yemen are particular hot spots.
Latin America is the coffee powerhouse, with Brazil and Colombia growing more coffee than any five countries combined. The Latin American coffees are usually lighter, with a tangy quality, which makes them great for blending. Mexico, Guatemala, Panama and Costa Rica chip in with their own unique stylings.
Asian countries go the other way, producing a full-bodied, thicker coffee with distinct flavoring, which makes them ideal for blends that require a little deepening. Indonesia grows most of the Asian coffee beans of quality, though Korea is also producing its fair share of the lower end of the market.
Each of these nations has their own distinct coffee flavor, and most major coffee producers actively work to keep it that way. If a sneaky Korean coffee farmer decided to import Brazilian plants, not only would the natural taste of the Brazilian bean eventually change due to different weather, soil and altitude, but the buyers would be annoyed that the lines between varieties have been crossed.
All countries feature varieties of their natural coffee beans, such as shade-grown, conservation coffees, fair trade coffees, organic, decaf and more, but each country has different rules as to what defines what kind of coffee, and how much caffeine is even allowed in your brew.
For example, in the United States there is a limit of 6mg of caffeine per liquid ounce in all beverages, while Australia limits caffeine to 145mg per liter, and in parts of Northern Thailand, caffeine is completely illegal altogether.
With coffee, you can travel the planet without leaving your kitchen. You could enjoy Brazil Bourbons, and maybe some Colombia Excelso tomorrow. Ethiopian Harrar-Moka might make a nice stopover on the way to Guatemala Antigua. Maybe Indian Mysore would be your next stop, or perhaps a short hop across to Jamaican Blue Mountain or Java Estate Kuyumas. Kenya’s nice, and so is the Kenya AA blend, while back in South America, the Mexico Pluma Altura has a soft glow to it. New Guinea crows a mean bean, and so too the Panama Organic is worth catching.
Then it’s off to Sumatra for some Mandheling-Lintong and Tanzania for some Peaberry, before ending the world journey in Zimbabwe with some of that country’s caffeine delights. Of course, if the blend itself is more important to you than the bean, you can take your coffee French-roasted, or have a Vienna blend, or go Italian with the espresso.
It might not be the same as sitting in a café in Rome while watching the world pass by- and maybe it’s not as good as watching the sunset in Jamaica with a dark roasted blend at your side or taking in the hustle and bustle of New York City with a latte in your mug, but take it from us, the world is a lot more pleasant when you incorporate coffee into it.