America & The Caribbean
The coffees produced in this growing region are
distinguished by their light body, simplicity and sharp acidity. They are typically
thought of as having bright flavors with a clean, crisp finish.
Click on a name of a Country on the map to the right for more
information about that growing region.
Mexico produces large quantities of unremarkable coffee that is
often used for dark roasts and blending. The state of Vera Cruz produces many of these
average coffees in its low laying regions, but in its mountains near the city of Coatepec
an excellent coffee called Altura Coatepec is produced. These high grown, or altura,
coffees are light bodied, nutty, with a chocolate tang and acidic snap.Altura Orizaba and
Altura Huatusco are other fine coffees produced in Vera Cruz. The state of Oaxaca in the
central mountains also produces some good coffees, referred to as either Oaxaca or Oaxaca
Pluma.. Chiapas, near the Guatemalan border, produces coffee under the market name
Tapachula, and is also gaining a reputation for its above average organic coffees. Coffees
are produced using the wet-process.
Some of the world's greatest coffee is produced in the central
Highlands of Guatemala. The most famous regional marketing names are: Antigua, Coban and
Huehuetenango. High quality Guatemalan coffees are produced using the wet-process and are
of high acidity and medium body, with smoky, spicy and chocolate flavors. Guatemalan
coffee is often marketed by grade, with the highest grade being strictly hard bean, which
indicates coffees grown at 4,500 feet or above. A secondary grade is hard bean,
designating coffees grown between 4,000 and 4,500 feet.
The flavor of Salvadorian coffee is mild, with good balance, medium
body, sharp acidity and a hint of sweetness. The best grade of Salvadorian coffee is
called strictly high grown. El Salvador produces an excellent certified organic coffee
under the brand name of Pipil. All coffees are produced using the wet-process.
The best known Nicaraguan coffees are produced by the wet-process in
the Jinotega and Matagalpa regions and are light to medium bodied and fairly acidic.
Nicaraguan coffee trees produce large beans that contain salty acidity and heavy body when
Costa Rican coffee is grown primarily around the capital city of San
Jose. The most famous of these coffees are San Marcos di Tarrazu, Tres Rios, Heredia, and
Alajuela. These coffees are wet-processed, and are full bodied and sweet, with a hearty
richness and lively acidity. In Costa Rica coffee grown above 3,900 is call strictly hard
bean, while coffee grown at an altitude between 3,300 and 3,900 is called good hard bean.
Costa Rican coffees are usually identified by the estate, cooperative, or facility where
they are processed. One of the most famous of these estate coffees is La Minita.
Honduran coffee is wet-processed and mainly used as a cheap blending
coffee. Some excellent coffees are grown here, but they are often blended with inferior
beans before they are exported and are difficult to find.
Coffee produced in Panama is sweet, bright and balanced, and similar
to coffee from the Tres Rios region of Costa Rica. This wet-processed coffee is often used
for blending, but is excellent served as a breakfast brew.
Jamaica is the home of Jamaican Blue Mountain, one of the world's
most controversial coffees. Once a superb coffee characterized by a nutty aroma, bright
acidity and a unique beef-boullion like flavor, recent overproduction, lack of attention
to quality and profiteering have led to a mediocre, over-priced product. Some confusion
exists about where the boundaries for growing this coffee actually lie, and often coffees
of lesser quality are packaged under its name.Jamaican High Mountain is a term that
applies to coffees of lesser quality that are grown at a lower altitude than Jamaican Blue
Mountain . Both coffees are produced using the wet-process.
Dominican Republic, Haiti,
Cuba, Puerto Rico
Coffees from these countries are grown at moderate altitudes and are
full-bodied with moderate acidity and uncomplicated flavors. These wet-processed coffees
are best suited for dark-roasted espresso blends. Cibao, Bani, Ocoa, and Barahona are the
four main market names for coffees from the Dominican Republic.
Colombia produces 12% of the world's coffee supply, and is second
only to Brazil. The bulk of Colombian coffee is of high quality, and the country has done
an excellent job marketing its product through the visage of Juan Valdez. Peasants grow
the coffee at high altitudes, and it is processed using the wet method. Three mountain
ranges, called cordilleras, trisect Colombia from north to south. The central and eastern
cordilleras produce the best coffee. The most famous coffees in the central cordillera
are: Medellin, Armenia, and Manizales, named for cities where they are marketed. Medellin
is the most famous, and has heavy body, rich flavor and balanced acidity. Armenia and
Manizales have less body and acidity. In the US all three coffees may be marketed together
as MAM. In the eastern cordillera, Bogota and Bucaramanga. are the most famous coffees.
Bogota is considered one of Colombia's finest coffees, and contains less acid than
Medellin, but is equally rich and flavorful. Bucaramanga has a low level of acid, but is
rich in body and flavor.
The highest quality Venezuelan coffee is grown in the western part
of the country near the Colombian border. Maraciabos, as this coffee is known, refers to
the port from which the coffee is shipped. The most famous Maraciabos are Cucuta, Merida,
Trujillo and Tachira. Coffee grown in the eastern mountains is called Caracas, after the
capital city. Venezuelan coffees differ from other coffees grown in the region in that
they are much lower in acidity.
Ecuador produces a large amount of coffee, but it is rarely seen in
the United States. These coffees are undistinguished, with light to medium body and mild
Because of its mild character, Peruvian coffee is used for blending,
French roasts, and as a flavored-coffee base. Some good coffee can be found high in the
Andes in the Chanchamayo and Urubamba Valleys, and northern Peru is developing a
reputation as a producer of good quality, certified organic coffees.
Brazil grows approximately 35% of the world's coffee, but only
Santos is considered important by the specialty coffee industry. Another coffee, Rio, is
also well known for it's medicinal taste, and is often used in New Orleans coffee with the
addition of chicory. Bourbon Santos is Brazil's finest grade of coffee, and the beans from
the arabica trees that produce this coffee are small and curly for the first three or four
years of production. During this time, the coffee is called Bourbon Santos. As the trees
age, the beans become larger and lose quality. They are then referred to as flat bean
Santos. Bandeirante is a popular estate grown Brazilian coffee that is often found in the
United States. Brazilian coffee is generally produced using the dry-process.
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