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The world of coffee offers a huge range of flavours in much the same way as wine. Different factors develop these flavours and so we hope the details below help guide you to your favourite.
The “terroir” of the coffee is as significant as it is with wine; the climate and soil conditions affecting the flavours in your coffee. Individual farms can vary but here are some general flavour profiles by country:
South America – nutty, toffee, wheaty flavours
Central America – citrus fruity flavours
Ethiopia – floral aromas and fruity flavours
Kenya – lemon and blackcurrant acidity
Indonesia – rich body and chocolaty
Different species offer significantly different flavours. All of our coffees are Arabica, with a more clean delicate fruity flavour, rather than Robusta with its more bitter earthy flavour.
Arabica can come in many varieties as well; these chart its movement from its home in Ethiopia around the world, with key varietals like Bourbon and Typica. Some varieties are very distinctive such as Geisha with its floral peach like flavours.
Altitude considerably affects the flavour of coffee, so much so that a lot of countries grade their coffee by what height it is grown at. The higher you go the denser the bean becomes and generally the flavour becomes more clean and fruity.
Getting the beans out of the coffee cherry is called processing. You can either squeeze the beans from the fresh cherry and then clean them in water to get rid of the mucilage (sticky layer around the beans), hence called Washed Coffee. Or dry the coffee cherries in the sun and crack the beans out the now brittle dried cherry skins; hence called Dry Processed or Natural Coffee.
There is also a process that sits in the middle. Here the beans are squeezed out of the fresh cherries then left to dry in the sun, still surrounded by the sticky mucilage. This style has different names depending on the country it comes from but look for Pulp Natural, Honey Processed, or Semi Washed.
The effect on the flavours can be as drastic as turning grapes into raisins. Washed Coffee has a lighter body with more acidic floral flavours, whereas Natural Coffee has a richer body with lower acidity and more sweetness. (Pulp Natural’s flavour sits in between the other two)
The roaster has the final say on flavour. Coffee roasted only lightly retains the natural fruity acidity in the bean and gives a lighter bodied drink. A medium roast develops toasted flavours and sweetness but the fruity acidity starts to diminish. A dark roast will remove most of the natural fruity flavours and develop more bitter flavours with a richer body.