The Geography of the Coffee Bean: The 3 Main Coffee-Growing Regions

the geography of coffee

Cabin Door Coffee

Coffee. It’s not just a simple plant in any old garden . . . coffee = landscape + climate + elevation.

Attention all Map-of-the-World Lovers!  Boots here, as promised, to talk more about the Geography of Coffee.   And to keep it interesting, I am going to keep it brief.  As our friend Bill Shakespeare said, “Brevity is the soul of wit.”  Now I don’t know that my end goal today is Coffee Wit, but I am going to do my best to stir your interest in the geography of coffee.

Coffee is Geography . . . Geography is Coffee  

The 3 main coffee regions of the world:

  1. Latin America: well-balanced; crisp and bright acidity; more consistent quality
  2. Africa/Arabia: exotic; berry, citrusy/grapefruity, and spicy flavors; more unpredictable
  3. Asia/Pacific: full-bodied; spicy, herbally; depth; pairs well with savory
  4. These regions each have unique and distinct, geographically-inspired taste profiles.

All of this base-camp info will ultimately lead to me walking you through a coffee tasting at the end of all this fascinating Geography stuff.   Next?  We will look at how to “taste” coffee and identify the characteristics that help you to identify region.  But in the meantime, I am feeling some camp stories percolating to the surface.  I might have to explore some of those before looking at coffee tasting.

And if you are interested in this kind of stuff — I am! –then you will be surprised that you can not only taste but actually smell the geography of the bean before you even slurp.

So have some fun today just enjoying the flavor of your coffee.  Appreciate how very far those little beans in their burlap sacks had to travel to give you so much pleasure.

Who doesn’t want a map of the world on the wall? And it’s so inexpensive! I have two maps posted in my cabin: one in the kitchen and one in the little house with the crescent moon cut out of the door.

Rand McNally Signature Map of the World

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This paperback looks so awesome!  Who doesn’t want to know the secrets to happiness?  I am thinking: I must order this.

Happy: Secrets to Happiness from the Cultures of the World

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Have you heard this music?  It is simply the best in collaboration, talent, creativity, and musicality . . . all from around the world.  

 Songs Around The World (CD + DVD)

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5 Lively Factoids on The Geography of the Coffee Bean

the geography of coffee

Cabin Door Coffee

Coffee . . . it’s not just an attitudinal thing . . . it’s a latitudinal thing.

Attention all Geography Cognoscenti . . . aka Map Lovers!  Boots here, as promised, to talk about the Geography of Coffee.  For all of you who haven’t had their coffee yet or for those of you whose eyes glaze over when they anticipate a pedantic and unsolicited lesson on coffee  . . . well, have no fear.  The thing you don’t know about Boots, the Badass Coffee Babe, is that she wants nothing better than to get back to splitting some kindling for tomorrow’s fire, filling the kerosene lamps while there’s still light in the day, and maybe taking a skinny dip in the lake to feel refreshed after all of the chores.

So, here it is . . . delivered in bullet points so that you can isolate the facts from the minutiae.  This is all good stuff that you can toss out to that cute barista while you’re waiting for your beverage.  S/he will think you are a geographical wonder.  Try it.  You’ll see how attractive knowledge is.

Coffee is Geography . . . Geography is Coffee

  1. Coffee beans carry their own unique geography with them.
  2. Geography IS a coffee profile . . . a flavor.
  3. Coffee is more than an attitudinal thing . . . it’s also a latitudinal thing.  It’s grown in the equatorial band between the two tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.
  4. There are three primary coffee regions in the world. (We’ll get into these soon.  Promise!)
  5. These regions each have unique and distinct geographical profiles. You can train your tongue to identify them . . . which is why when you first smell and then take a sip of black coffee, your palate can tell immediately where those beans were grown.

All of this will ultimately lead to me walking you through a coffee tasting at the end of all this fascinating Geography stuff.  If you are interested in this kind of stuff — I am! –then you will be surprised that you can actually smell the geography of the bean before you even slurp.

So have some fun today just enjoying the flavor of your coffee.  Appreciate how very far those little beans in their burlap sacks had to travel to give you so much pleasure.

Who doesn’t want a map of the world on the wall? And it’s so inexpensive! I have two maps posted in my cabin: one in the kitchen and one in the little house with the crescent moon cut out of the door.

Rand McNally Signature Map of the World

http://amzn.to/2cu3Ih2

This paperback looks so awesome!  Who doesn’t want to know the secrets to happiness?  I am thinking that I must order this.

Happy: Secrets to Happiness from the Cultures of the World

http://amzn.to/2cu1UVw

These mugs might not represent the coffee-growing latitudes . . . but you are going to look super smart when you bring up your newly-learned factoids when someone comments on your mug of the world.

3D Rose mug: Vintage European map of Western Europe Britain UK France Spain Italy etc retro geography travel Ceramic Mug, 15 oz, White

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3dRose mug_112942_4 Vintage map of the North Pole polar cap Russia Northern America Greenland geography travel theme Two Tone Black Mug, 11 oz, Black/White

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There’s something about Saturday morning.

oh how i love thee saturday am

Cabin Door Coffee

Greetings, good people.  Boots, your friendly Badass Coffee Babe here.  I am happy to say that there has been a shift in the weather in the high country, and I am just starting to get settled into my late summer routine.  As you, too, have noticed: the days are growing shorter here in the northern hemisphere.  I am beginning to think that it’s time to start some serious wood splitting for the rainy days that are soon to arrive.

And there’s nothing like Saturday morning for getting some pre-fall chores done.  Saturday.  Even if it is a day of some heavy-duty chores, there is always the sense that the previous week has been cleared and it is time to take a deep breath.  Today, think about the joys that that first (and second!) cup of Joe brings to your morning.  Rejoice in the invigorating luxury that this “bean juice” brings to your daily routine.

A tiny coffee fact for you: Did you know that the coffee “bean” is actually the seed inside the coffee cherry?  Yes!  What we call the coffee bean is actually the seed — or the pit– inside what can be thought of as a stone fruit — the coffee cherry.   The reason that people call this seed a “bean” is simply because the seed looks so much like a bean.

Isn’t it weird how language can create a whole culture around what isn’t exactly so?  In other words, why don’t we go to that cute little coffee shop on the corner and order one pound of coffee seeds, please?   Or one pound of coffee cherry pits ground for an espresso machine, please?  This just sounds wrong.  We have developed and established a culture of bean-ology.

I hope that you all have a fantastic weekend.  I am guessing that we all could use the time to relax and count a few blessings.  Bon weekend!  A little Hoops and Yoyo for you . . .

I love the bean juice!

Click on the images and links below for some #1 Best Seller coffee cherry seeds!

Death Wish Ground Coffee, The World’s Strongest Coffee, Fair Trade and USDA Certified Organic, 16 Ounce

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Lavazza Super Crema Espresso – Whole Bean Coffee, 2.2-Pound Bag

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Hello again . . . Boots is back in the saddle! Oh, and tip your barista!

Greetings to all of you good people!  I, Boots the Badass Coffee Babe, have been away — out on a trail gig — and have missed our coffee connection!  The past weeks, I’ve been out in the woods, away from any form of Internet communication, and restoring my Inner Outdoors Girl.  It has felt great!  And now I am back, so we can catch up on coffee. Tell me . . . What have I missed?

While out on the trail, I ran into a hiker, Niccolo, who was a self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur from Italy.   We got to chatting about travel, trails, and coffee, and Niccolo said that he was curious about a lot of things in America but, once on the topic of Coffee, he asked why American baristas are so under-paid and under-respected.   Now, I might not speak Italian, but Niccolo was certainly speaking my language when it came to this conversation!

I really didn’t know how to answer to this — this not being one of those common questions that comes up when you start Coffee Talk.   I got to thinking about all of the things that American baristas have to be good at and their many multi-tasking duties.  I mean, just look at them.  They pull shots, steam milk, make eye contact with customers, do foam art, remember to ask about someone’s job interview, call back the next drink order to the register barista, and hand off your drink with a smile.   Impressive!

Now that I am back in town, I went to a busy coffee shop and observed the baristas in action.  Let’s take a look at what they have to do to serve an amazing cup of Joe.   A good barista . . .

  1. grinds coffee beans correctly so that the shots aren’t too long or too short
  2. tamps the grind into the filter perfectly
  3. pulls good shots
  4. times shots for high standards
  5. pumps liquid sugar into cups
  6. steams milk to satisfy requests (absolutely no foam, light foam, shaving-cream foam, dry cappuccino foam, bone-dry cappuccino foam)
  7. connects with the customers
  8. rinses shot glasses
  9. fills the bean hoppers
  10. continually re-adjusts the burr grinder to maintain perfect shots
  11. keeps everything clean and shiny
  12. re-stocks the refrigerators
  13. keeps the queue of drinks marching forward
  14. calls back drink orders
  15. works both the hot bar and the cold bar
  16. draws a cute smiley-face on certain cups
  17. asks about the family to the customers they know well
  18. smiles at you when s/he hands off your drink
  19.  . . . and I know that there are many other things . . .

This is a heck of a lot plates to keep spinning — all while maintaining a pleasant demeanor.   Now that I, Boots the Badass Coffee Babe, am back in town, I want to give a big shout-out to all of you baristas who work so hard to perfect your craft and to serve us fabulous beverages that many of us could never dream of making at home.

Just saying!  It makes me think of when I was young, pretty impressionable, flat broke, and just starting to work for someone who was eking out an existence on a history-laden homestead that he had inherited from someone who was as old as dirt.  The history of the place was pretty amazing and this old guy certainly knew it.  He was cocky and demanding and expected me to be his personal barista.   Well, I tamed that idea right out of him.

Sure, I was willing to haul the water from the lake and start the fire in the cookstove.  And I was even willing to grab a mug from the cupboard and set it to warm on the warming trivet.  But make the coffee?  Nuh-uh.  I knew that once I got roped into that lasso, I was going to be on call every morning at oh-dark-thirty to meet this buckaroo’s caffeine demands.

It’s weird to think that I wasn’t a coffee drinker yet.  I opted for healthful options that involved herbs and botanicals that now don’t even smell that good if I now catch a whiff of them brewing.   And this old-timer used the strangest contraption for making coffee.  He said it operated on a vacuum system  that involved some elaborate siphoning.  He expected me to learn how to use it and produce damned-good coffee, but I feigned ignorance (which was genuine) and confounded his expectations by making the very worst coffee (which was a ruse — I was smart enough to figure it out) that he swore — and I mean swore [#@$&*$$@!] had ever had the first day on the job.  I’ll give it up for the guy for having a colorful vocabulary.

I would call this a Big Life Lesson: There are benefits to Being Inadequate . . . this becoming a carefully-executed skill set of feigned ignorance that I happily applied to other areas of my professional life such as how to un-clog the paper in the copier machine on campus, how to clean the yuck out of the microwave in the break room, and how to sharpen a chain saw.   Some things are simply better left to those who feel more inclined toward responsibility.  And to showing others their higher state of abilities.   Thank God for different personality types is all that I am saying.

You’ve got to check out this old timer’s crazy way to make coffee below.   This gentleman’s contraption looked more Frankenstein-ian than this modern and sleek version, but it is the very same concept.  Who would have thought that you could extract coffee via a siphon?  Weird, right?  Go to Amazon by clicking on the images/links below:


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and how about this lower-priced one . . .

http://amzn.to/29SjLCz

AND . . . tip your barista.  As Niccolo pointed out, they are under-paid and under-tipped.   Your barista is partly responsible for your morning happiness . . . why not reciprocate with at least a very nice smile and a “Good job!”

Oh, and one more thing.  I am so excited to be back, I can’t stop adding coffee stuff!

Check out this new organic, Arabica coffee I found on Amazon.  I am going to try it out!  The name alone sells me — Happy Belly — let alone that it is organic, sustainably sourced and Fairtrade!


http://amzn.to/2aro1e5

PREMIUM COFFEE BY HAPPY BELLY

spacerHappy Belly makes artisan, small batch roasted blends like those found at your favorite neighborhood coffee shop, conveniently delivered to your doorstep. From growing and harvesting to roasting and packaging, ensuring our coffee’s freshness and flavor is our main focus.

Life is a darn good event.  Have fun, drink coffee, and tip your barista!!

 

 

 

Question: How does roasting affect the coffee bean?

Just the facts, Ma’am . . . and pour me another cup while you’re at it.

How does roasting affect the coffee bean?

Roasting brings out the essence . . . the aroma, body, and flavor that is locked inside the green coffee beans.  The roasting process transforms the chemical and physical properties of the beans . . . and the different degrees of roasting produce characteristic taste profiles and different amounts of caffeine.

City Roast, Full City Roast, Vienna, Espresso, Italian, New Orleans, French . . . so many different roasts!  At the risk of over-generalizing . . . lighter roasts make for a brighter, more lively taste profile while darker roasts make for a sweeter, lower acidity coffee.  Drinkers who prefer a low level of acidity in their brew are steered toward a darker roast . . .  French roast being one of the more common choices for a low-acidity coffee. This comes with a caveat though, as many people do not like what they describe as the “burnt” or “oily” taste of a dark French roast.  Perhaps French roast is an acquired taste.  Or maybe people have just gotten used to buying it as they equate dark roast with a more-refined coffee choice.

You may come across those people who are misled by the misguided notion that Dark Roast is “better.”  If you like dark roast, enjoy.  If you don’t like a dark roast, don’t feel like a wimp.  You will not be judged by the Secret Society of Coffee Snobs — not on my watch.  Feel safe with this knowledge.  If some French Roaster looks over his or her coffee cup at you drinking your light and lively cup of city roast, share with him or her that you prefer a brighter, higher acidity level in your coffee.  You can also add that your lighter roast contains more caffeine than their French roast.  This should stop any Snob from further judgment.

Of course, there are all manner and degree of roasts in between on the spectrum of light, medium, and dark.  Coffee beans contain oils that include some 600 chemical substances.  When the beans are roasted, the beans expand and, as a result, lose moisture.  The beans’ aroma comes alive and the oils give the beans a shiny appearance – especially in the darker roasts.

A light roast (Light City, Half City, Cinnamon Roast) have a light body with a detectable acidity.  This roast is often described as being “bright” or “lively.”  Drinking light-roast coffee is a personal choice and should not be an invitation to judgment.  All of you snobs, be nice.  Coffee should be fun and others should be allowed to drink cinnamon roast without being called wimps.

Medium roasts (commonly called Breakfast Blends) are generally considered to The Middle of the Road when it comes to drinking coffee.  This roast has more body than light roast beans and are more balanced in the areas of flavor, aroma, and acidity.  If you don’t know what roast of coffee bean to bring to your future in-laws for the weekend, bring a medium roast.  There is nothing wrong with going down the middle of the road on this topic.

A dark roast (Italian, espresso, French, continental, New Orleans) is dark brown in color and has a sheen of oil on the surface of the bean.  It is believed that the bean’s point of origin is disguised as a result of darker roasting.  With some dark roasts, you may taste a smoky, or even burnt, flavor.  And remember that the amount of caffeine is decreased as a result of added roasting.   While not being a French-roast drinker, I do like a darker roast myself and do not mind giving up some of the caffeine for this taste profile.

In the early days, the green coffee beans were roasted in a heavy pan over the fire.  Nowadays, coffee is roasted in a roasting factory– some small and some ginormous – generally in the country in which the coffee is going to be consumed.

It takes so little equipment and time to roast your own coffee.  I am wondering why no one has shared this information with me before.  After watching the videos below, I am ready to arm myself with this simple equipment and roast my own beans.  I love this kind of thing.

There are so many cool facts about this humble and elegant drink.  One little bit of information leads to another interesting tidbit.  I am thinking about taste profiles, aged beans, acidity, food pairings . . . you name it!  So much to know.  So much fun to learn.

Here is a super informative video that takes you on a Color Journey of Coffee Roasting.  It’s only 4:23 long and worth watching.  It also will help you understand why you prefer the roast that you do, as it discusses taste profile with different stages of roasting.  Cool!

And how about this idea of roasting coffee beans in a popcorn popper?  Fun!  It is a recommended method for getting started with home roasting.  If you’re like me and like to experiment with new ideas and learn about how things work, I am thinking it would be a fun taste treat to try this.  It literally takes minutes to have your coffee fresh-roasted each morning.  Wow!  What a fun thing to do on the weekend for your Monday morning coffee!  [P.S.  According to other research I did, shoot for a popper with a minimum of 1250 watts.]

Here is the Popcorn Pumper that he talks about lasting a long time in the video.  It has the recommended 1250 watts.

Proctor-silex Hot Air Popcorn Pumper 5 Quart

http://amzn.to/28TUWZe

. . . and here is a real-deal coffee roaster if you don’t want to mess with the popcorn popper:

FreshRoast SR500 Automatic Coffee Bean Roaster

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Papua New Guinea Organic Wild-grown Unroasted Green Coffee Beans (1 LB)

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Home Coffee Roasting, Revised, Updated Edition: Romance and Revival

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Bellemain Micro-perforated Stainless Steel 5-quart Colander-Dishwasher Safe

http://amzn.to/28OaluO

And this?  I want!
Lodge Cast-Iron Skillet L10SK3ASHH41B, 12-Inch

http://amzn.to/28Nb8yy

Whew!  What started out as a simple question has my mind spinning.  There is no short answer as coffee roasting is a complex and fun science that brings to us such a miraculous beverage.  Experiment with some green beans and leave a comment, reporting to us your roasting results!  Fun, fun, fun!

Life is a lively event.  Roast up some beans, drink coffee, and get to it.

What’s stopping you?

[Just the facts, Ma’am is inspired by and extracted from personal experience and research, informative youtube videos, and “All About Coffee Knowledge Cards” – published by Pomegranate Communications, Inc.]

Goat Cup Coffee: Kaldi & the Goat Gang

coffee arabicaOkay, coffee lovers!  Time to get out your pom-poms (or pompons for you grammarists) and pay homage!  This post is about the origins and discovery of our beloved coffee bean!

I absolutely love recounting this epic tale, as it is a testimony to fact being stranger than fiction and to the powers of observation and to sharing fun stuff with others.

Enjoy this bit of coffee lore.  And share it with your friends the next time you are driving by a field of frisky goats!  You are sure to impress them with this little-known fact about the most popular beverage on the planet!

Spur (Small) boots signaturexox

Boots the Badass Coffee Babe

And a quick PS for you introverted, infatuated-with-your-favorite-barista folk: Have you been wanting to strike up a conversation with that really cute barista?  Dazzle him/her with your trivia knowledge? Maybe get his/her number?  This cup would be the perfect way to get that convo started!  At the very least, you are going to have to demonstrate to him/ her how your unique cup stands upright while they are making your bar beverage.  Am I right?

On to the history lesson . . . Do you want to guess who gets credit for discovering coffee? Some Spanish explorer?  No.  Some Ethiopian King’s personal chef?  No.  Some extra-smart herbalist roaming the planet?  No.

Goats

It was GOATS.  Yes, goats who discovered the power of the coffee bean!  Of course, it took the observing eye of the good goatherd Kaldi to do the subsequent and necessary Hear ye!  Hear ye! about his goats’ discovery of the benefits of the coffee bean.  After all, the grazing capra aegagrus hircus needed a voice to spread the word.

According to the National Coffee Association , there once were some amazing and ancient coffee forests — yes, forests! — on the Ethiopian plateau.  It was here where our good buddy Kaldi was not only grazing his herd but paying attention as well.

Kaldi’s goats were gadding about like goats do and were eating berries from a particular tree — a coffee tree.  After eating the berries, Kaldi couldn’t help but notice that the goats had become so energetic, they refused to go to bed at bedtime.  All they wanted to do was romp and play throughout the night.

Imagine poor Kaldi.  All tuckered out from herding goats all day . . . and then having to factor in a marathon caffeine buzz to all of that jumping and hopping around that goats are so good at doing.  Kind of like giving a bunch of pre-schoolers a few bags of Oreos and some chocolate milk right before you expect them to go down for naptime.  Impossible.  And you have to remember that Kaldi was probably doing his own un-caffeinated thing at that time — probably some herbal concoction that had a zero caffeine boost.   Poor guy.

Aberrant behavior and frisky goats aside, Kaldi managed to make it through that frivolous first night, and he reported his observations to the abbot of a local monastery.  The abbot make a concoction with the berries . . .(I can just see him in some Curie-esque, Ethiopian, monastic laboratory with beakers bubbling over with the new brew.) . . . and, lo and behold, the good abbot found that the New Brew kept him remarkably alert through the long and rigorous hours of evening prayer.

The abbot, being a good sort of chap, shared Kaldi’s discovery with the other monks at the monastery, and the word spread more quickly than a wildfire during lightning season in a drought year.  Word then moved east to the Arabian peninsula and so the Coffee Movement was born.

Pretty darned cool, huh?

In honor of Kaldi and his rambunctious goats, I found this very fun cup for all of your coffee commuting needs.  Think of it as a hands-free commuter’s tribute to the Gang of Goats that surely must have suffered some post-caffeinated let down when they likely weren’t able to put 2 and 2 together in order to keep the Coffee High going.  I like to think that they did return to said-coffee-tree ,and they continued to munch away to their insomniac-state of delight.  Perhaps they ultimately passed their caffeine-spirited genes down to their boisterous prodigy.  You have to admit . . . goats sure can jump!

Let’s call this product the Kaldi Kommuter Kup for purposes of alliteration and to pay homage to Kaldi & the Goat Gang.  Nothing like being prepared and cool at the same time!  And . . . anyone who unwittingly comments on you sporting this rather absurd-but-super-cool-looking commuter cup will be sure to get an earful regarding the backstory of Kaldi & the Gang.  You can dazzle them with this little story that you now have tucked away in your Trivia Arsenal.

“GOAT Mug is a one-of-a-kind coffee mug that was inspired by the first coffee discovery. Its horn shape is a dedication to goats that discovered this elixir of life and it also lets you drink the very last sip. It comes with a set of 2 straps that allow you to carry your coffee, but at the same time reply to a couple of e-mails and carry around your newspaper.”

Click on the image below:

And click here to view the fun video.
About the Product
  • A special horn-shaped coffee mug holds 16 oz. (470 ml) of your favorite coffee drink
  • Comes with a set of 2 straps, long and short part, so carrying your coffee mug around is a blast
  • Holder can easily transform into a stand, which easily enables placing the mug onto a flat surface
  • It’s BPA free and 100% leak proof
  • GOAT mug is creating an exquisite experience from coffee drinking

Sporting your horn-shaped Kaldi Kommuter Kup will give you the same euphoric feeling as when you change from jeans to pajama bottoms.  Guaranteed!

Check out Carmella below!

like changing from jeans to pajama bottoms

like changing from jeans to pajama bottoms