Latin America Coffee Regions MapLatin 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.

El Salvador
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 brewed.

Costa Rica
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 acidity.

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.