A lot goes into producing a cup of the best coffee in the world. While coffee trees grow anywhere from sea to frost level, the best conditions include lots of rain, a mean temperature of about 70° and nutrient-rich, well-drained soil.
Trees growing at lower altitudes produce coffee fruit year-round, but this results in large quantities of beans that are harsh, high in caffeine and suitable only for mass-produced commercial coffee.
Up in the mountains, each coffee tree produces less fruit, which is more flavorful and correspondingly pricey. Five regions consistently produce the highest quality coffee that java drinkers crave.
Here are the top five countries that produce the best coffee in the world:
Brazil is by far the world’s biggest coffee producer, growing about a third of all coffee. Much of it is low quality, but some of the finest beans also hail from Brazil. Brazilian coffee is grown at 2,000- to 4,000-foot elevations, far lower than most fine coffees, which grow at elevations above 5,000 feet. Bahia and Bourbon Santos are the country’s most celebrated beans. The regions that grow the finest coffee are hilly Mogiana and Sul Minas, and the high plateau of the Cerrado.
Aside from the fact that the country is one of the largest producers of coffee, Brazil is also on the list of countries that make the best coffee in the world.
Brazil’s is some of the best coffee in the world because of its low acidity (due to the lower altitude in which the bean is grown), making the coffee beans sweet, round and excellent tasting.
Also, Brazilian coffee is mostly dry processed. This means that it has been dried from inside the fruit first. This will ensure that much of the sweetness of its fruit will carry on over into the cup.
The best Brazilian coffee is soft, nutty, low acidity and offers a nice bittersweet chocolaty taste.
Because of this, Brazilian coffee makes for an excellent base for making flavored coffees. A good Brazil coffee can add a lot to espresso blends, too.
The two major types of coffee beans are the Arabica and Robusta.
Brazil Bourbon Santos is one of the popular Arabica beans in Brazil. A good Brazilian Bourbon Santos has a light to medium body, yields a low acidity, and has a very pleasant aroma.
Where To Find It: The Coffee and Tea Exchange
Indonesia is such a famous coffee producer that one of its islands, Java, has become synonymous with the drink. As the world’s biggest Robusta producer, much of the quality is not high. But the 10% of Indonesia’s beans that are Arabica are some of the finest.
Indonesian is the fourth-largest producer of coffee in the world, and it has a place on the list of countries that make the best coffee in the world due to the unique way of processing coffee in the region, among other factors.
Giling Basah is a unique way of processing coffee in Indonesia, known in other parts of the world as the semi-washed/wet-hulled process. It involves removing the skin of the coffee cherry before drying it to a moisture content of 30-30%, unlike the normal moisture content of 11 or 12% of most other processes.
Thereafter, the beans are run through the wet-hull machine, from which the bean emerges swollen and whitish-green before being dried for the third time until it is dry enough to be stored without potentially rotting.
Indonesian coffees tend to have a dark and bold flavor profile, with a prominent earthiness.
The semi-wash process creates tasting notes ranging from earth, mustiness, spice, wood, tobacco and leather. They often have a long-lasting finish that feels like unsweetened or dark cocoa.
Sumatra Mandheling is one of the most popular coffee beans in the country. Grown on the island of Sumatra, it’s a complex, heavy coffee with hints of chocolate and licorice.
Where To Find It: Starbucks
Are you looking to grind the coffee beans you just bought from Starbucks? Check out the best Coffee Grinders.
Learn More about Coffee Grinders Here: Why Every Coffee Lover Needs a Single Dose Grinder
Ever since German immigrants got serious about cultivating Guatemala’s coffee crop in the 19th century, this country has produced some of the best coffee in Latin America. The mountainous area around the colonial city of Antigua produces a coffee of the same name, known for notes of spice, smoke, flowers and chocolate.
This flavor characteristic of the Guatemalan coffee helps secure its place on the list of countries with the best coffee in the world.
On top of these flavors, Guatemalan coffee also has lots of nutty and toffee tastes.
Guatemalan coffee beans are mostly grown on higher grounds, giving them brighter flavor notes ranging from berries to green apple to citrus.
Farmers in the country have cooperatives in the Lake Atitlan basin to grow some of the best coffee and have better management of their farms.
One of the best coffee beans in the region is the Guatemalan Huehuetenango. It has distinctive and delicate fruity tastes, a fairly light body that can sometimes be slightly buttery, a sweet floral aroma and a clean aftertaste that lingers pleasantly on the palate.
Where to Get It: Mad Cap Coffee, Buy Coffee Canada
Tanzania is also well known for its coffee. The region in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, close to Tanzania’s border with Kenya, produces Tanzania Peaberry coffee. This variety has less acidity than Kenyan coffee. Round, small peaberry beans are richer in flavor than oval beans. These rare peaberries account for only 10% of total yield and require hand sorting.
Where to Get It: Zecuppa
Coffee trees come in two main types, Arabica and Robusta. Arabicas produce better-tasting beans. The Robusta tree is hardier and begets harsher beans. Ethiopia is the land of Arabica and the origin of coffee production. As Africa’s top Arabica exporter, Ethiopia employs 12 million people in coffee production. The Yirgacheffe region produces a variety of beans prized by connoisseurs.
The most popular coffee from the country is the Ethiopia Yirgacheffe. Regarded as Ethiopia’s crowning glory because of its high quality and distinctive flavor. Yirgacheffe is meticulously hand sorted, harvested and wet processed to improve its acidity and enhance its clean, floral notes. Full-bodied with mild earthy flavors, this coffee is truly at its finest when roasted medium-light; it produces a unique fragrance and a lingering, intensified finish.
Where to Get It: Coffeam, Laughing Man Coffee and Tea
If you are unsure where to start you can also try a regional sample pack. A Coffee Sampler is a great option.