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Coffee in Latin America and the Caribbean by Liz Canham

#137 - 18 - 0 - Coffee in Latin America and the Caribbean by Liz Canham
[ 2008-03-07 00:00:00 ] - lizc

Coffee is produced in many parts of the globe in over seventy countries including parts of East

Africa, India, Indonesia and Vietnam (second largest producer in the world), but here we're going to

concentrate on coffee in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Most Like it Black

Apparently most coffee drinkers in Mexico take it black and believe that the best black coffee comes

from their country. I'm sure the natives of many other countries would dispute that and probably

the story is apocryphal.

Mexico produces approximately 3.5% of the world's coffee and the greatest concentration of coffee

growing here is in the south of the country but the types are divided into lowland and Altura

(high), i.e. grown in mountainous country.

Lowland coffee is mainly grown in Vera Cruz State, on the Gulf of Mexico, east of the central

mountain range, whereas Altura Coatepec, a very popular coffee, is grown in the mountains near

Coatepec city. Other mountain-grown coffees worthy of note from Vera Cruz State are Altura Orizaba

and Altura Huatusco.

In Chiapas State, situated in the south east of Mexico near the border with Guatemala, coffees are

also grown in the mountains. The best known of these is Tapachula, named after the town, which has

a medium light body and soft flavour.

Oaxaca State is another prolific producer.

Simply the Best

Arguably, Guatemala produces the most interesting tasting coffees in the world, being slightly spicy

or smoky on top of a somewhat acidic base.

Coffee growing areas include Antigua (the former capital of Guatemala) and Atitlan, in the central

highlands, where the coffee tends to be rich and of spicy acidity in flavour and well-bodied,

whereas the coffees grown in the mountains on the Pacific or Caribbean sides are less acidic and

more fruity.

Rich and Robust

Of all the coffees in Central America, those of Costa Rica are amongst the most favoured, being

full-bodied with a robustly acidic flavour. Most of the coffee here is grown around the area of the

capital, San Jose, the most well-known districts being San Marcos de Tarrazu, Tres Rios, Heredia,

and Alajuela and it is thought that the height at which the coffee is grown may have more influence

on the flavour than actual area or estate.

Major Player

Colombia produces about 10% of the world's coffee, which can vary in flavour from mild and

flavoursome to positively uninteresting.

The better coffees are produced on the slopes of the central and eastern mountain ranges in areas

such as Nario State. Bucaramanga (after the town) produces rich flavoured coffee with low acidity

and full body said to resemble that grown in Sumatra. The Bogota (after the capital city), is

believed to be one of the most high-grade blends is lower in acidity than the notable Medellin but

is still flavoursome.

Much of the coffees is produced by small private growers then processed by the Colombian Coffee

Federation. It is this "cooperative" coffee which can vary somewhat in quality.

Coffee in the Caribbean


Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is world-renowned for its smoothness and rich flavour. Unfortunately,

supply is short and consequently prices are high. Other Jamaican coffees are undistinguished and

the "Blue Mountain Style" coffees almost certainly contain coffee grown at much lower altitudes and

indeed, may not contain any coffee grown in Jamaica at all.

Low Flyer

Haiti produces a very tiny percentage of the world's coffee but what it does produce has a pleasant

softness and sweetness. This is attributed to the low altitudes at which it is grown, the high

rainfall and the volcanic soil of the coffee growing area.

Nearly Jamaican?

The Dominican Republic produces only a small amount more coffee than Haiti but experts are comparing

it with the richness and acidity of that grown at high altitudes with that of the Jamaican Blue

Mountains. Low grown coffees are softer and less acidic.

There are many other countries in this region which grow coffee but we only have time here to cover

a small cross-section.

Liz Canham

Liz is fond of a nice strong cup of coffee and is webmistress of
href="http://www.coffee-all-day.lizebiz.com" target="_blank">Coffee All Day

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