How Does Altitude Affect the Flavour of Coffee?
Many factors affect how a coffee bean develops in taste. Whether it is the soil, the roast or the way it is brewed, the list is extensive. Another significant element which is essential in the development of coffee is altitude.
High and low altitudes impact the maturing process differently, which in turn affects the taste of the final product. We look at how various altitudes create a range of flavours and which locations are renowned for such flavours.
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In general, coffee beans grown at a higher altitude tend to produce rich and distinct flavours.
An Extended Maturation Process
A higher altitude provides cooler temperatures that suspend the length of growth time of the coffee plant.
Coffee bean flavours are reliant on the length of the maturation process. The extended growth period of the coffee plant creates deeper flavours due to the more complex sugar formation of the prolonged maturation process.
As a result of an extended process of maturation, coffee beans in higher altitudes tend to preserve their flavour for a lengthier time while in storage in comparison to beans grown at a lower altitude. This tends to be down to the prolonged development process, creating a harder and denser bean.
Furthermore, regional flavours into the bean are installed into the bean when grown in higher altitudes with a more extended maturation.
Countries where coffee tends to be grown at very high altitude, include:
• Papua New Guinea
Beans produced at a high altitude can be found in the countries:
• Costa Rica
• Mexico Altura
On the other hand, milder and a reduced acidic taste can be found in beans which are grown at a lower altitude.
Provides Higher Yields
At low altitudes, the growth time of the coffee bean is faster than those in higher altitudes. As a result, beans ripen faster and are produced at a quicker rate.
Low altitude coffee beans are treated differently to those grown in a higher altitude.
The beans tend to be softer, as a consequence of their speedy development process. As a result, they are not suited to darker roasts as they aren’t as robust.
Instead, beans grown at a low altitude need to be lightly roasted. They provide a more ‘earthy’ flavour and tend to be grainy in texture. Robusta coffee tends to be grown at low altitude.
Coffee beans grown at a medium altitude can be found in the countries:
Countries where coffee is often grown at low altitude, include:
Discover the flavour profiles belonging to different altitudes in our guide below! Of course, it is essential to remember that other factors in the growing process will also affect the taste of the coffee bean.
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