Coffee is grown in more than 50 countries in the World. Coffee is known to be originated in Africa in the 10th Century. And now it has been extended from East to West in the region known as the bean belt.
Deciding what country has the best coffee is not a very straightforward process. It is not as easy as selecting the best football player in the World. We can easily select the best player based on how many goals a player has scored in a calendar year.
On the other hand, deciding the best coffee has many complexities because of subjective preferences. Some people like bitter flavors, while others prefer to have an acidic cup of coffee. Some people will give more points to the flavorful aroma, while others will give more points to the smoothness and body of the coffee.
In short, there are many different qualities to grade a cup of coffee, and most of them are subjective, so it’s very hard to agree on which coffee is the best. But we all agree that the taste of coffee should not be burnt, overly bitter, or sour, and it should have a decent aroma.
Some countries are known to produce higher quality coffee than others because of their geographical characteristics. First, I will discuss the qualities of the best coffee, and later I will list the best coffee-producing countries.
What are the qualities of the best coffee?
Professional coffee tasters or cuppers define the quality of coffee based on the following ten characteristics.
- Aroma: The aroma of coffee is the fragrance from a freshly brewed cup of coffee. The aroma of coffee is highly dependent on the taste of coffee. A full-bodied cup of coffee will have a rich aroma, while an acidic cup of coffee will have a fruity or winey aroma.
- Flavor: The combined effects of sensation felt by the taste buds after taking a sip of coffee defines the flavor profile of coffee. Coffee beans from some regions have dominant citrus flavors, while some have dominant bitter flavors. The perfect balance of both is considered to be ideal.
- Aftertaste: After taste is the sensations felt in the mouth after drinking a cup of coffee. The coffee is graded good if it has a pleasant and long-lasting aftertaste and poorly graded if it has a displeasing or short-lived aftertaste.
- Acidity: Acidity gives life to a cup of coffee, and it is known as brightness when balanced. Without acidity, the taste of coffee is very dull and flat. Highly acidic coffee is known as sour and certainly not desirable. Geographical location and soil conditions have a significant impact on the acidity of coffee.
- Body: Body is the taste texture felt by the mouth after sipping coffee. A full-bodied cup of coffee is thick, heavy, and oily. On the other hand, thin-bodied coffee is water-like and has fewer coffee oils. Regions that produce a full-bodied cup of coffee are generally better than others.
- Uniformity: Uniformity refers to smoothness and consistency in the taste of coffee. The taste and aroma profile of good-quality coffee beans should be uniform and consistent.
- Sweetness: Sweetness is the desirable quality in the taste of coffee, and it represents the presence of certain carbohydrates in the coffee beans. Coffee beans from some regions have a high amount of carbohydrates, making them preferable.
- Defects: Defects are negative aspects of coffee beans. Too many variations in the size and color of coffee beans and too much moisture are referred to as negative qualities of coffee beans. The defects in coffee beans cause an unpleasant aroma and displeasing aftertaste.
- Balance: The overall taste of the coffee should be balanced. It must not be too much acidic or bitter.
These qualities are not absolute; in the end, it all comes down to personal preference. It is likely that one quality is preferred by some individuals and hated by the other.
Where is the best coffee grown? Top 5 countries
The final taste of coffee depends on so many factors such as soil chemistry, weather conditions, average rainfall, growing conditions, types of seeds, and the altitude above sea level.
Even the same coffee tree grown in different regions will not produce the same type of coffee because of different geographical factors.
The best quality coffee beans are grown in tropical regions near the equator known as the “bean belt .” Let’s look at the list of the top 5 best coffee-producing countries.
Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee and the fifth largest coffee producer in the World.
Ethiopian coffee beans are well known for their bright mouthfeels and fruity flavors. Generally, the coffee beans of Ethiopia are mild to high in acidity with a medium body.
There are three regions in Ethiopia where coffee is grown Yirgacheffe, Sidamo, and Harrar.
The coffee from Yirgacheffe is rated as the highest quality Arabica beans in the World. These coffee beans have a fruity and flavorful aroma, medium body, and well-balanced flavors.
Sidamo region is well known for producing full-bodied and rich coffee beans. Unlike the Yirgacheffe region, the coffee beans from Sidamo are low in acidity.
One of the best quality coffee beans is grown in the Harrar region of Ethiopia. These coffee beans are full-bodied and can deliver a spicy and intense cup of coffee with a fragrant aroma.
Regardless of the region, the sweetness, fruity flavors, and presence of the natural carbohydrates in the coffee beans from Ethiopia make it the country with the best-tasting coffee in the World.
Ethiopian coffee beans will be the best option for you if you are trying to give up milk and sugar because of their natural sweetness.
The ideal altitude and weather conditions make Kenya one of the best coffee-growing regions in the World.
Kenyan coffee has similar fruity notes to Ethiopian coffee but has a relatively heavier body.
Kenya’s volcanic soil and high altitude are well suited for producing Arabica beans.
Coffee beans in Kenya are generally wet-processed after harvesting, making them fruitier and more acidic.
Good Kenyan coffee has well-balanced and delicate flavor notes with a winey and fruity aftertaste.
Most of the coffee is grown in the Central region of the country. Coffee is a major export and contributes a lot to the Kenyan economy.
Colombia is an incredible place to grow coffee. There are many small coffee farms across the country, and Colombia is the third biggest exporter of Coffee around the World.
The elevation, average rainfall, and the temperature of Colombia are perfect for growing high-quality coffee beans.
Colombian Farmers take pride in growing coffee and are constantly making improvements to make better quality coffee beans.
The major problem with the Colombian coffee industry is the difficult terrain across the country, making it difficult to transport the coffee beans.
Premium Arabica coffee beans are grown in Colombia. These coffee beans are medium-bodied with a fruity and citrus note.
“Supremo” coffee beans are Colombia’s highest quality coffee beans. Supremo is full-bodied coffee beans with rich, intense flavors and velvety aroma. Supremo beans are relatively more expensive than regular coffee beans, and it isn’t easy to find an original one.
Brazil is the largest coffee producer in the World and produces almost one-third of the World’s total coffee supply.
There are many large coffee farms across the country, and unlike Colombia, Brazil has a good infrastructure for transporting coffee across the country.
Brazil’s climate conditions and elevation are perfect for the mass production of coffee. Both Arabica and Robusta coffee beans are grown in Brazil.
Some coffee professionals may argue that Brazil only focuses on quantity rather than quality. But it’s the fact that Brazilian coffee is loved around the World.
And it’s also a fact that Brazil is a vast country with a huge amount of land available for coffee farming. There are seven coffee-growing regions in Brazil that differ slightly in the taste and quality of coffee. So, we can’t say that all Brazilian coffee is the same.
You can find all types and varieties of coffee beans in Brazil. But generally, Brazilian coffee is low in acidity with a slight bittersweet aftertaste.
5. Costa Rica
The volcanic soil, high altitude, and favorable weather conditions of Costa Rica produce one of the best coffee beans in the World.
There are small family-owned coffee farms across the country. 100% premium Arabica beans are grown on these farms and wet-processed after harvesting.
The distinct quality of Costa Rican coffee beans is their sharp taste and medium body, making a perfectly balanced flavor profile.
What is the most expensive coffee?
Kopi Luwak is the most expensive coffee in the World. This coffee is from Indonesia and is famous for its unique processing method.
Kopi Luwak coffee is produced by Asian palm civets. The red cherries of coffee are eaten, digested, and defecated by Civets. Then the farmers collect these cherries and pass them through regular washing and processing.
Kopi Luwak has a unique taste because of two facts.
- Palm Civet only chooses the best coffee cherries to eat.
- The digestive enzymes of civets do the magic while breaking down the coffee bean.
I am Johny Morrisson! Founder of CoffeeAbout
I am a coffee lover since my childhood. And I am very passionate about trying different coffee machines and recipes.
Last year I decided to start my blog to help users with useful information about brewing methods and coffee machines.
I have discovered so many new things and facts about coffee during this journey which I am going to share with you on this blog.