CARIBBEAN AND CENTRAL AMERICA
All Arabica plants in the Caribbean and the
Americas descend from a plant taken secretly
by De Clieu to Martinique from the gardens of
King Louis XIV.
Costa Rican coffees have the strongest flavour of
all Latin American varieties, full-bodied and
acidic. The best varieties are grown on the
mountains along the Pacific coast.
The most prized Jamaican coffee beans are
cultivated at high altitudes. The rarest variety is
the Blue Mountain, grown in State-controlled
plantations. Roasted beans yield a sweet,
aromatic, slightly acidic and full-bodied beverage.
Other varieties include the Prime Washed,
Jamaican Mountain Choice and High
The coffee grown in this country is distinguished
by its almost smoked flavour and high acidity,
while the beans themselves have a slightly
imperfect appearance. The varieties normally
take on the name of the mountain region in which
they are cultivated, with the exception of the
gigantic Maragogipe bean, grown on the plains.
The varieties cultivated in Haiti are roasted till
dark; most of the production is exported to France
and Italy. Haitian coffees are known for their full,
slightly sweet flavour, with little acid. The Port au
Prince variety has sometimes a pungent aroma
and spicy aftertaste.
Mexican coffees are rich, full-bodied and slightly
acidic, with a fragrant aroma. The most prized
varieties are those cultivated at high altitudes.
Coffee was first introduced to South America in
the 18th century by the Dutch and French
colonies. Coffee beans were later smuggled
into Brazil. Thanks to the favourable climatic
conditions, coffee is today cultivated in many
countries in South America.
Brazil is the world's largest producer of Arabica
coffee. Of note, the Bourbon Santos variety that
yields a delicately-flavoured beverage, as well as
being excellent for making blends. Other
varieties, particularly those belonging to the Rio class, are sour, sometimes even acrid.
One of the more important varieties is the
Maragogipe, famous for its giant beans, grown
on trees that are the result of a botanic mutation
of the Arabica bean.
Thanks to the characteristics of the terrain and
the stable climatic conditions, Colombia is the
world's second largest producer of coffee and
the first in terms of quality. The most prized bean
is the Medellin variety, full-bodied, rich and
slightly acidic. The Vintage Colombian is on the
other hand a rarity, produced from beans aged
for eight years before roasting, giving a full-flavoured, almost syrupy coffee.
The best quality Venezuelan varieties grow along
the Colombian border, and are amongst the
finest (though lesser-known) in the world.
Merida and Caracas, with their low acidity and
light-body, are particularly popular in Europe.
Africa is becoming an increasingly important
producer of coffee on the international market.
Though Arabica originated in Ethiopia, 75% of
African coffee beans are of the Robusta
species, which is in fact more resistant to
disease and assures a more abundant harvest
Angola, the Ivory Coast and Uganda are the
biggest producers of Robusta.
Ethiopia and Kenya are the only African
countries to produce Arabica alone.
Predominantly a producer of Robusta, Angola
also exports a small quantity of Arabica - Andulo or Gando - with a neutral flavour that makes it
ideal for blending.
Coffee still grows spontaneously in Ethiopia,
where it is harvested by the local community and
dried in the sun. This variety, called Djimmah,
has a spicy, slightly piquant flavour. Harrar or
Ethiopian Moka is one of the rarer varieties.
Similar to real Moka, this coffee yields a dark red
beverage with a full, strong and winy taste.
Kenyan coffees are known for being full-bodied
and slightly acidic; Kenya AA is the best variety.
Tanzanian coffee is drunk pure and black, never
blended. Winy, acidulous and sweet, the most
prized Arabica are the Kilimanjaro and
Plantation Buboka. An exceptional rarity are the
round coffee beans.
Moka, a classic coffee, comes exclusively from
Yemen. Though the bean is irregular and
unattractive, it yields a remarkable juice that is
spicy, bitter/sweet and full-bodied.
ASIA AND HAWAII
The largest producer of coffee in Asia is India,
which grows both Arabica and Robusta. Java,
Sumatra and the Hawaiian islands were
amongst the first international producers.
Java is considered one of the most delicate and
refined Arabica beans in the world. The finest is
full-bodied, with low acidity and a spicy aroma.
All coffee types grown are excellent, with a full-
bodied sweet flavour, never syrupy. The Kona coffee plants are cultivated on the slopes of the
Manua Loa volcano.
The English are the biggest customers of Indian
coffee, the most common variety of which is
Mysore, dark, full-bodied and acidulous.
Rich, sweet and moderately acidic, Mandheling is the most prized of Sumatran coffee beans.