Is Latin American coffee better than African?

By | 29 March, 2021

Latin American coffee

Ah, Latin America. Home of some of the finest beans your coffee scale will ever weigh. A combination of warm climate, frequent rainfalls, and high altitudes make this continent the perfect location to grow coffee. It doesn’t surprise us that Latin America is the world’s largest coffee producer, with Brazil and Colombia leading the race. Some of the coffee-growing countries are:

  • Brazil

To this day, Brazil remains the world’s largest coffee bean producer and exporter. Brazilian coffee is low-acidic, and the taste is a combination of nutty and choccy.

  • Colombia

Second largest coffee producer. The most famous when it comes to naturally sweet coffee. Colombian beans are medium acidic, with flavors of caramel and chocolate.

  • Costa Rica

The Costa Rican beans are a rare treat, even in Latin America. Coffee grown in Costa Rica has a large taste variety, depending on the region. These beans are a mix of sweet, chocolate, and fruit flavor.

African coffee

Africa is the birthplace of humanity and the birthplace of coffee. Surprisingly, but Africa produces only 12% of the world’s coffee supply. That is a shame because you can’t find this combination of history, bean variety, and high quality anywhere else in the world. Let’s take a look at some of the African countries famous for coffee production.

  • Ethiopia

The center of specialty coffee production. Ethiopian fruity and floral beans flavor is unique.

According to legends, Ethiopia was the first coffee-growing country.

  • Kenya

Coffee in Kenya usually grows at higher altitudes (1500+ m). Kenyan coffee is graded by bean size, following the presumption that larger beans are better. Kenyan beans have subtle blackcurrant flavor notes.

  • Uganda

Ugandan beans are mostly Robusta due to the equatorial climate. However, some fine Arabica beans grow on the north, near the border with Kenya. Uganda and Ethiopia together grow cca 62% of all African beans.

Latin American vs African coffee

Flavor notes

American beans have a stronger, darker flavor. Nuts, chocolate, and caramel are the main ones, with few exceptions. African beans are much lighter, with sparkly notes of wine, berries, flowers, and fruit, especially citrus fruit.

Coffee body type

As most of the African beans are grown on higher altitudes, they are almost always full-bodied. Coffee from African beans will be creamy and strong. On the other hand, Latin American coffee is often light-bodied or medium-bodied, with a texture more subtle and friendly to coffee greenhorns.

Processing

African coffee is almost always dry-processed. Coffee cherries ferment in the sun and retain most of the natural flavors. That way, you get naturally sweet coffee, full of taste. American coffee is usually wet-processed or ‘washed’. The wet process is pricier but provides more stable results for larger bean quantities.

Texture

Also known as mouthfeel, it describes coffee that leaves no aftertaste in your mouth. Latin American coffee is often described as the one with a cleaner texture. However, coffee experts find it hard to draw the line between coffee body and coffee texture, so there is no simple answer.

Conclusion

You cannot claim that American beans are better than African ones, or vice versa. The coffee drinking experience is different from person to person. Both of the regions produce the finest coffee, just different types. If you want your cup of joe to be light, sweet, and full-bodied, go with African coffee. For darker chocolate flavor and less acidity, choose American beans. The only important thing is to enjoy your cup of coffee.


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