How Does Altitude Affect Coffee And Its Flavor

How Does Altitude Affect Coffee And Its Flavor

Have you ever asked the barista about the coffee you drink? The barista may answer you in incomprehensible ways, such as what altitude the coffee is grown at. This makes people want to ask, does the coffee we drink have anything to do with the planting height? Why is this important?

Why Is Altitude Important?

Altitude directly affects the size, shape, and flavor of coffee beans. We don't need to ask coffee shops to brew coffee at a specific altitude, but understanding the important properties of altitude for coffee will help you find the coffee you love.

In another article by the author of this article, "Three Factors Affect the Coffee Varieties Coffee Farmers Decide to Plant", he talked about how the altitude and climate of the farm affect the coffee varieties coffee farmers choose to grow. To put it simply, the Arabica species are usually better adapted to higher altitudes, such as the cold climate of 1800-6300 feet (550-1920 meters), while the Robusta species are better adapted to lower altitudes, such as 600-2400 feet. (180-730 meters) warm climate. The altitude in this range deeply affects the quality of coffee.

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How Much Do You Know About Altitude?

Elevation affects the physical aspect of coffee beans. Take a closer look when you have the opportunity to touch green coffee beans (unroasted). Are they small and tightly structured? Is the dividing line in the middle closed, open, or jagged? What color are raw beans? Emerald green, light green, or blue? These characteristics are the result of the influence of coffee planting altitude.

The highest quality coffee beans pursued is called extremely hard bean SHB (above 1370 meters). The high-density structure of coffee beans is attributed to the slow growth of coffee beans due to high-altitude planting. The coffee bean centerline may be closed, jagged, or slightly skewed. On the other hand, coffee beans grown at low altitudes are generally less compact and have semi-open cracks. The color of the coffee will vary depending on the variety, and the green bean processing procedures will also affect the color. The same coffee beans from the same estate may have different colors due to different processing methods, just like honey treatment and washing have the same effect on coffee beans. That being said, the density of coffee beans may be the best proof of coffee planting altitude.

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Why Is High Altitude Better?

The main reason for pursuing high-altitude coffee is its flavor. As long as you take good care of it, high-altitude coffee will have a higher acidity, better aroma, and flavor. In comparison, low-altitude coffee will tend to have lower acidity and a less distinctive personality. This is why the barista will tell you that altitude will deeply affect the flavor of the coffee you drink. Generally speaking, high altitude means that coffee is more delicious. It is defined that this type of coffee grows above 1730 meters, which also means that this type of coffee has a good flavor.

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Coffee flavor changes brought about by different altitudes:

  • 5000 feet (very high altitude): fruit, spice, floral, berry, wine
  • 4000 feet (high altitude): citrus, vanilla, chocolate, nuts
  • 3000 feet (medium-altitude): low acidity, sweetness
  • 2500 feet and below (low altitude): plain, earthy

The elevation is just one of the many factors that affect the flavor of coffee, but it is one of the most important factors. Ask the barista for more information and try coffees from different altitudes and regions!

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