Posted by ANDREW MORSE
In an unusual chain of events that began with the Mayor of Amsterdam gifting a young coffee plant to King Louis XIV of France in 1714, coffee was introduced to the Americas. This gifted tree was planted in the Royal Botanical Garden in Paris. In 1723 a French naval officer, Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu obtained a seedling and set off for Martinique. Sharing his water rations with the coffee plant and protecting it from fellow shipmates, a storm and pirate attack, de Clieu successfully transported and planted his coffee tree in Martinique. By 1726 the tree had grown and multiplied, and the first harvest was ready. By 1777, fifty years later, there were a reported 18 million coffee trees growing on the island and that sole plant became the progenitor of virtually all the coffee plants in Central and South America today. Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu is a coffee hero if there ever was one.
Harvest - April thru September 2010 Arabica Export Production = 28,572,626 60kg bags
Brazil is the largest producer of coffee in the world, providing nearly 1/3 of global supply. Its coffees support a wide range of market needs from institutional to specialty roasters. At one time, the industry was heavily regulated with a focus on price competitiveness rather than quality. Based on a quota system, producers mixed high and low-quality beans to reach the quotas. This formed many negative opinions on Brazilian coffee that still linger today. However since deregulation in the 1990’s, there has been a renewed focus on quality and some exceptional coffees are being produced in the country. Eighty percent of the coffee produced is Coffea Arabica and most of the specialty coffee is of the bourbon variety and dry processed. As the largest producing country that is subject to frost risk, the impact of frost to diminish yield in Brazil can and have significantly impacted world prices for coffee. The majority of specialty coffee produced in Brazil is between 2,000 and 4,000 feet in elevation. The three main growing regions are in the state of Bahia in the northeast, along the southern and eastern borders of Minas Gerais, Sao Paolo, Espirito Santo and Rio di Janiero and within Sao Paolo and Parana in the south.
Harvest - August thru March 2010 Arabica Export Production = 3,437,279 60kg bags
About the size of Tennessee, Guatemala offers an astonishingly wide range of climates, resulting in eight growing regions within the country. Each region presents a distinct flavor profile. These are established and administered by the Asociacion Nacional del Cafe (Anacafe). If a coffee from a particular region does not meet the respective flavor profile, it can not be marked with the regional designation. The eight regions include Acatenango Valley, Antigua Coffee, Traditional Atitlán, Rainforest Cobán, Fraijanes Plateau, Highland Huehue, New Oriente and Volcanic San Marcos. While all of these regions produce exceptional coffee, perhaps the most well-regarded comes from Antigua, a valley surrounded by three volcanoes. With nearly perfect conditions, coffee from this region is grown between 4,600 − 5,600 feet in elevation. Its complexity and range within the unmistakable flavor profile are what make this a special origin.
Harvest - October thru March 2010 Arabica Export Production = 7,161,324 60kg bags
Colombia is the second largest producer of Coffea Arabica in the world. The coffee industry is well-organized around the Colombia Federation of Coffee Growers which has been extremely successfully in consistently producing high-quality coffees and supporting small farmers to market. To achieve this, small farmers are required to wet process their beans which then make their way to Federation mills where they are sorted and graded. The best of these is Supremo followed by Extra. These two are often combined to form another designation, Excelso. These coffees are almost all high-grown milds grown to a very high standard. While a result of this system is that individual nuances of a particular farm are “averaged” out, the overall quality is very high and produces a distinctive cup. Apart from the Federation, there are some private mills in which case a market or regional name is used in place of the standard designations.
Harvest - September thru February 2010 Arabica Export Production = 1,193,035 60kg bags
Costa Rica has developed a mature well-regarded coffee industry and reputation for fine coffee. Unlike the majority of Columbian coffees, Costa Rican coffees are identified by the finca (farm) or estate from which they come. All Costa Rican coffees are wet processed and the standards established here are copied throughout the Americas. Most coffee is grown at a very high altitude of between 3,300 and over 3,900 feet. Strictly hard bean designation is reserved for coffee grown at over 3,900 feet elevation is primarily what we seek out here at Longbottom Coffee. The most famous coffee regions are Tarrazu, Tres Rios, Heredia, Alajuela and Volcan Poas.
Harvest - November thru March 2010 Arabica Export Production = 1,078,261 60kg bags
Like many other countries in the region, El Salvador has suffered political upheaval and civil war. With fairly recent democratic movements in the past decades, El Salvador is once again growing and consistently delivering fine, specialty coffee. In part, owing to this political instability, there has been little intervention or pressure to introduce hybrid varieties. Instead, traditional varieties of Coffea Arabica such as Bourbon and Pacamara are being grown to good effect on small farms and co-ops.
Harvest - September thru November
Kona coffee can be very special and very expensive. Although grown at altitudes of only 800 to 2,500 feet on Mount Hualalai and Mauna Loa, Kona coffee asserts itself as well as any coffea arabica grown at the expected higher altitudes. Clusters of small farms hand-pick and wet-process all Kona coffee on the Big Island. At its best, Kona represents a very classic cup - mild, clean and balanced through the finish. It rewards with that ideal of what coffee can be.
Harvest - October thru March 2010 Arabica Export Production = 3,349,398 60kg bags
Since Hurricane Mitch in 1998, Honduras and its people have suffered tremendously. A nascent coffee industry was all but devastated after the 1998 hurricaine and the subsequent flooding. However, the country has much to recommend it with respect to an ideal coffee growing environment, including rich soil, high altitude and an ideal coffee-growing climate. This has led to renewed interest and a small collective of growers and investors are helping to boost infrastructure and build up the industry. As it grows, there are very good coffees coming from the country and we anticipate many more to come.
Harvest - August thru September 2010 Arabica Export Production = 12,758 60kg bags
Jamaica is most well known for the incredibly expensive Jamaica Blue Mountain which is in the eastern part of the country between Kingston and Port Antonio. The different classifications center around elevation. True Jamaica Blue Mountain is grown between 3,000 and 5,500 feet. Jamaica High Mountain designates coffee grown between 1,500 and 3,000 feet and Jamaica Supreme or Jamaica Low Mountain below 1,500 feet. Jamaica has a long and bumpy coffee history that began in 1728 shortly after the success of the first coffee transplant in the Americas in Martinique. Retailing for $50 or more per pound many find it hard to justify the price in relation to the cup experience. It is a mild coffee with a lower bean density that requires some careful coaxing in the early stages of roasting. The three most popular names (mills) are Mavis Bank, Wallenford and Old Tavern. Take care when purchasing a Jamaican coffee. If you are paying top dollar, make sure it is 100% Jamaica Blue Mountain.
Harvest - October thru March 2010 Arabica Export Production = 1,749,325 60kg bags
Mexico is the eighth largest producing country globally and one of the largest producers of certified organic coffee. Even so, most coffee is grown in small farms numbering over 100,000. Its main growing regions are the states of Veracruz, Oaxaca and Chiapas located in the south central and southern areas of the country, extending south to the border with Guatemala. Generally, Mexican coffees are mild and light-bodied with delicate flavors that can vary nicely in the cup, depending upon the region. The southern most Chiapas region, bordering Guatemala exhibits some of the same characteristics as their neighbor’s. Due to its mild nature, Mexican coffees are often used as the base for blends and darker roasts. When you see the Altura designation, you know that it is high-grown.
Harvest - November thru February 2010 Arabica Export Production = 1,657,598 60kg bags
Nicaragua is the poorest country in Central America and the second poorest country in the world. Its people have struggled. Politics, revolution, natural disasters have all conspired against the Nicaraguan coffee industry for the last four decades and it is only now beginning to recover and become known again in the specialty coffee world. Sandwiched between Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south, Nicaragua, in terms of climate and terrain, has all the right environment to grow exceptional coffee. The main growing regions are Segovia, Matagalpa and Jinotega.
Harvest - October thru December 2010 Arabica Export Production = 63,889 60kg bags
Located between Costa Rica to the west and Columbia to the east, Panama’s small family farms are producing unique and delicious coffees. The majority of the best coffee is grown in the Boquete area in the Chirqui District. The coffees are grown on small family-owned farms by traditional methods and are shade-grown. These growing practices combined with advanced processing methods yield coffees that distinct from their neighbors and deliciously complex. Add a working environment that is one of the best in Central America in terms of wages and worker protection, and it is easy to feel good about the coffees of Panama.
Harvest - April thru October 2010 Arabica Export Production = 3,816,671 60kg bags
The Peruvian coffee industry has focused on certified organic coffees, grown for volume and competitiveness. Generally mild and light bodied, Peruvian coffees make a good base for blends, darker roast and flavored coffees. The very best coffees come from the high Andes in the Chanchamayo Valley as well as Norte and Cuzco to the south.