June 26, 2014 2 min read
Coffee tourism and the coffee industry have been revealing a new standard in globalization transparency. Coffee shops and coffee consumers are more interested today in knowing which coffee regions their coffee came from and how it was handled along the way. Industry experts are beginning to compare specialty coffee to the wine industry. Many wine connoisseurs might balk at this statement, but coffee actually has more aromatic and flavour compounds than wine. Just like wine, the location and climate of coffee trees changes the way the coffee tastes.
A lot of people go to coffee shops as much for the atmosphere as for coffee. Few things in life are more relaxing than visiting local coffee shops with a good book in hand. Through visiting smaller coffee shops, you can learn a lot about what makes good coffee taste better than the cans at the grocery store. Better shops seem to build a teachable spirit into their culture and staff. Baristas (coffee bartenders) are happy to explain how different regions of the world produce coffees that have varying flavor profiles.
Coffee from Central America is what North Americans would most recognize as coffee. After all, Guatemala and Honduras are much closer to the States than any African coffee-growing region is, and it’s easier for us to buy from them than to ship beans clear across the wide expanse of the Atlantic. These coffees are often described as “Balanced”, and their mild fruit-like flavors often play nice as a mild backdrop to the cocoa and spice flavors.
Africa is a very large and diverse continent. You’re likely to see coffees from Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, and Cameroon. Some African coffees will be fruity, heavy, and wine-like, while others tend to have a floral, tea-like delicacy to them. Be on the lookout for these descriptions, and you’ll experience delicious coffee that might change what you think coffee tastes like.
Southeast Asian coffees mostly come from Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Java. There is also some coffee being grown in Thailand and India. Again, we see the result of variety, processing, and climate in the coffees from Indonesia, which tend to have an earthy, smoky, and toasted flavors present in the cup.
These flavor profiles and more can be found at many local coffee shops. A map showing where current coffee offerings are coming from would be a great educational tool and investment for coffee shop owners. Starting with a beautiful map as a base coffee shops could pin flavor profiles for different regions and countries. This eye candy would show customers the coffee shop’s expertise and authority in a very appealing way.
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