Not all coffees are created equal. And, while the care and love of the coffee growers, harvesters, roasters, shippers, storers, and brewers display do indeed have an effect on the flavor of your cup o’ joe, the truth is that much of its flavor is determined by where its beans were grown.
Generally speaking, coffee needs to be grown at elevations of at least 3,000 feet so that it grows slowly to let its oils and sugars to fully develop. Coffee grown at lower heights may be exposed to higher temperatures that speed up the growth rate. The ideal climate for coffee growing is a frost-free 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit year round.
Though beans grown at 3,000 feet are mighty fine, it is widely accepted that the planet’s best coffees are grown from 4,000 to 6,000 feet in elevation. The rule of thumb is that the higher the bush is the better its beans will be since the flavor profile of these beans will have the time it needs to wholly evolve to become something that is distinctly pronounced. However, not all coffee drinkers want this type of mature flavors in her coffee. No, some prefer sweeter, milder coffees, such as those that are grown lower on the slopes. Also, these beans are often more earthy in taste, which is a flavor some folks love.
Another benefit to growing on the slopes of tall hills and mountains is that sloped land drains well. Coffee beans that are naturally on the dry side possess the concentrated flavors for which coffee experts search. This is also one reason coffee does so well in soil of volcanic origin; besides draining well, this soil is likewise very fertile and found in many of the the hills and mountains of the world.