Coffee Regions of the World: Central America
Central American Coffee
Have you ever wondered about what type of terroir and natural landscape go into producing as masterful beans as the legendary Geisha? Or how about those succulent honeyed beans one may find from the ecological powerhouse Costa Rica? Come take a tour right in the heart of the ancient Mayan and Aztec Empires. While the ancient Aztecs and Mayans themselves enjoyed the cocoa bean more than the coffee bean (there was no coffee in Central America, yet!) their descendants in Mesoamerica certainly can conjure up some of the world’s most intriguing, vivacious and energetic beans like its magic. From majestic mountains to verdant jungles, once we get through cataloguing all the coffee regions of Central America you will want to book a plane ticket after grabbing a bag or two of Central American coffee beans courtesy of Fuzzy Monkey coffee co. The congenial and adorable squirrel monkey is our animal guide through this breathtaking coffee region today, and is also the mascot of Fuzzy Monkey’s delectable Costa Rican coffee beans!
To begin with a bit of a flavor overview, coffee from Central America will often times have considerable acidity but mostly a good balanced body. The coffee from this region is mild in terms of its bitterness and a smooth drinking experience. Some chocolaty and nutty hints and notes are noticeable, as are some fruity, honey and sweet hints and notes from time to time.
Coffee cultivation began in Costa Rica back in 1779 when the first Arabica plants were brought to the area. Because of Costa Rica’s terrain and climate, which hit all the sweet spots for amazing Arabica plants, it became a cash crop. What is this terrain you may ask? The Cordillera Mountains not only allow the coffee plants some beneficial altitude to grow, but it also creates a windward climate for the plants between the Pacific Ocean and the mountains. And there is volcanic soil on top of that! Raised elevations? Check! Tropical climate? Check! High amounts of moisture, rainfall and precipitation like cloud coverage? Check! And volcanic and nutrient rich soil? Also check! Costa Rica’s has many coffee producing regions, with one of the most famous being Tarrazu. The other regions include West Central Valley, East Central Valley, Orosi, Brunca, Turrialba, North Central Valley and Guanacaste. If you want to enjoy a Costa Rican bean then one can usually expect a good aroma, a good body, some remarkable acidity that is usually rather balanced. Oh, and don’t pass up on some of Costa Rica’s unique honey processed coffee beans. Honey process is where the soft mucilage of the coffee cherry, found under the skin and pulp is left to dry. The honeyed beans are on a scale from washed to yellow to red to black to natural. This refers to the level of fermentation that the beans are allowed to undergo before being prepared for roasting. Washed and yellow are the least fermented, while red, black and natural are the most fermented. This affects the level of acidity and sweetness a coffee may display. The honey technique is a true art form in the world of Costa Rican coffee but it is also found in other coffee producing regions, too.
For those hoping to try some superb beans courtesy of Costa Rica, check out Fuzzy Monkey’s Squirrel Monkey Costa Rican. This single origin selection hails from the Brunca region of Costa Rica. Like other Costa Rican beans it is balanced with a bit of acidity to keep things interesting. It is also sweet! With some trademark Costa Rican aroma qualities akin to chocolate and tropical fruits. Fuzzy Monkey’s Costa Rica is a perfect specimen of Costa Rican coffee beans for a curious coffee adventurer.
A century of coffee cultivation places Guatemalan coffee amongst some of the other greats. Out of Guatemala’s 22 departments, 20 of them produce coffee, and just about all of it is superb quality. Arabica plants and Arabica variants are the main coffee crops of choice and the washed method takes the lead for processing, but other unique processing methods are also employed in Guatemala. The coffee crops are produced way up high, and don’t be fooled by Guatemala’s size on a map, about 300 or so microclimates all play a role in weaving a rich pastiche of conditions that result in some very brilliant coffee beans. Just like other countries in Mesoamerica, regular heavy rains, tropical climate, high altitudes and volcano and jungle plant enriched soil all coalesce into a stunning palette of variables that makes Guatemala’s coffee out of this world.
Guatemala’s coffee regions include the famous Antigua, Acatenango Valley, Atitlan, Coban, Fraijanes Plateau, Huehuetenango, Nueva Orienta and San Marcos. Guatemalan beans generally have a mild and balanced flavor with acidity indicative of the high altitudes these beans are cultivated at. Don’t confuse this coffee for fruit juice! Though the aroma is citrusy, fruity and at times spicy, so the confusion is understandably. The flavor? Hints and notes of ancient Mayan chocolate with sweet and nutty hints and notes in a stunning ensemble!
Coffee culture in Mexico has a storied and vibrant past that still plays a role in the daily lives and culture of Mexicans today. Most Mexican coffee beans are wet processed and derived from Arabica plants. Mexican beans are generally considered to be lighter in comparison to other Central American coffee beans from say, Panama or another country in the same region. A light body and acidity with some nutty and chocolate flavor hints and notes contribute to a typical cup of Mexican coffee. These tasting notes are found in other Central American coffee beans as well, but certainly a distinction of Mexican coffee that puts it in a unique position worthy of praise.
The regions in Mexico where coffee production takes place are mostly situated in the southern regions of the country. They include Chiapas, Veracruz, Oaxaca and Puebla. Veracruz in particular is a popular region for many reasons. The coffee from Veracruz is a national treasure all its own!
Here it is the region of the world where the famous Geisha coffee plant varietal, which has taken on a legendary reputation in the coffee world, is cultivated. And while Geisha is an incredible coffee bean, Panama has other spectacular coffee beans to offer as well, so don’t overlook them! Like other countries in the region, wet processing is often times the chosen method for processing the beans, and Panama also features some vulcanized and jungle plant enriched soil, tropical and humid climate to contribute to excellent beans, too.
Taking a look at coffee regions there is the Chiriqui province and the Boquete Valley. Chiriqui has the distinction of producing Geisha, which can be found most famously at the Café Ruiz plantation. Café Ruiz is said to have cultivated Geisha for generations and producers some excellent quality coffee. Geisha beans are known for having elongated coffee cherries, a light body and an acidity that is on the bright end of the spectrum. As for aroma and flavor, this is where things get legendarily tasty. The aroma is akin to jasmine and a honey and citrusy flavor join into a mosaic of a tasting experience that demonstrates how Geisha became a virtuoso of the coffee bean world. As for beans not of the Geisha plant varietal but are still produced in Panama, you will still be treated to an excellent bean that is bright, well balanced and has flavor hints and notes that evoke the memory of fruits and cocoa. Whether Geisha or not, Panamanian beans are well worth a try!
Rain-forests, mountains and marvelous coffee
Imagine, scaling the jungle-entwined mountains. Monkeys, tropical birds and fruit bats chirp, squeak and sing in the canopy. The mountain you are scaling, a former volcano, and the humid air casting clouds as you climb higher and higher. Conditions similar to this one abound in Central America. And besides being the perfect place to have an adventure, it is also the perfect place to cultivate outstanding coffee. Light, well-balanced body, some acidity that adds a pleasant and invigorating bite, and flavor hints and notes that generally range from nutty and chocolaty to sweet and fruity. Central America’s coffee is as diverse as the flora and fauna of the rainforest. And Fuzzy Monkey even offers a superb example of Costa Rican coffee. Check out Fuzzy Monkey’s vibrant and energetic “Squirrel Monkey”. This Costa Rican selection will make you want to travel out to see the real squirrel monkeys as they frolic in the rainforest. You may feel a similar carefree and playful feeling when you enjoy this selection akin to the way squirrel monkeys climb and play in the canopy, too. Come and discover this superb coffee and others of this astounding region today!
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