Today, we are going to talk about how growing coffee at different elevations affects both phenotype and more importantly, it’s flavour.
In general, regions with higher growing elevations tend to produce superior coffees. They are more distinguishable in flavour, often having more complexity, sweetness and more present complimentary acidity. Lower elevation coffees are not necessarily worse, but they tend to be more one-dimensional and traditional. If that's what you're into, great!
Higher altitudes usually means cooler temperatures, increased available sunlight and a slower maturation of Coffee Cherries. This allows for more development of complex sugars, aromatics & compounds that create the flavours we love.
These regions also tend to have better water drainage, resulting in a less watery fruit and one that concentrated with a denser and potentially more flavourful seed.
- Very High Elevation Coffees (1500m+) are less conventional, they are floral, bright, fruity & sometimes even spicy or boozy.
- Moderately High Elevation (1100-1400m) Coffees tend to be more familiar, think tasting notes of: chocolate, nutty, vanilla, caramel & milder notes of citrus.
- Lower High Elevations (~1000m) are more subdued: mellower, sweeter, low acidity and less distinct.
These are generalizations but many other factors can produce better coffee flavour, such processing, soil mineral content, varietal / cultivar, agriculture, geomorphology, and plant husbandry.
Nonetheless, altitude is a great metric!