Regional characteristics of coffee

Much like wine, there are many different varieties of coffee beans each with their own qualities and preferred uses. We recommend trying as many different varieties as you can and seeing what you enjoy the most. There is a whole world of coffee to explore.

Arabica vs Robusta

Arabica and robusta are the two most common varieties of coffee plant grown for consumption. Arabica is usually considered higher quality (and more expensive) while robusta contains much more caffeine and is easier to grow. Bulk coffee you might buy in the supermarket is almost always robusta. The specialty coffee industry is typically much more interested in arabica varieties though. Keep in mind that just because a coffee is an arabica does not guarantee it is high quality, but a robusta coffee is almost always still lower quality.

A Note on Caffeine

For people interested in coffee for the energy it gives us, keep in mind that more caffeine doesn’t always equal more energy. There are many factors that influence how energized we feel after consuming caffeine. For example, espresso is thought to be more energizing than regular drip coffee, yet a cup of drip coffee has more caffeine in it than a shot of espresso. Matcha tea has much less caffeine than coffee, but tannins present in matcha slow the release of caffeine, making for a more even energy spike throughout the day. Higher quality coffee with less caffeine can be just as energizing, if not moreso, than lower quality coffee with more caffeine. 

Regional Differences Between Beans

One of the biggest factors that determines how a coffee tastes is the place it’s grown. The type of soil, climate, elevation, and cultivation practices all subtly influence the taste and quality of coffee. There is no one region that is universally more desirable than the others. Each has unique characteristics that fit different roasters, cafes, and even specific drinks. 

Central American Regions


  • light body 
  • mild acidity
  • often a little nutty
  • good for pour overs or as an all-purpose coffee


  • rich body
  • sugary and chocolatey
  • flavors often very intense
  • especially good for french press and espresso

El Salvador

  • balanced
  • pleasant acidity
  • crisp and sweet flavor


  • good body and balance
  • can lack clarity 
  • smokey and roasty notes more common

Costa Rica

  • creamy body
  • sweet chocolate flavors
  • mild acidity


  • clean taste
  • floral
  • very reminiscent of wine

South American Regions


  • intense flavor and texture
  • reminiscent of berries 
  • often leaves a slight tingling sensation in the mouth 


  • savory with slight sweetness
  • pleasing body


  • creamy and chocolaty
  • nutty
  • mellow acidity


  • pleasing coffees with a dessert like quality 
  • often malty or cocoa flavors
  • crisp citrusy acidity

African Regions


  • balanced taste
  • less intense flavor
  • sweet aftertaste


  • juicy, sweet, and slightly savory 
  • distinct and bold character
  • highly acidic, but good quality


  • similar to tea  
  • rosy and sweet 
  • well-rounded and excellent pour over coffee


  • bright and fruity
  • desirable body
  • well-balanced


  • similar to Kenyan and Rwandan coffees
  • lower acidity

Asia Pacific Regions


  • cloves and white pepper
  • often more herbal
  • less sweetness 


  • earthy, peppery, spicy
  • high body with low acidity
  • interesting french press option

Papua New Guinea

  • sweeter than other Asia Pacific regions
  • sometimes slightly leathy 
  • decent  acidity
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