Bolivia has potential for great coffee, and produces it at a very small scale. At this moment, the country’s entire production is smaller than that of one average Brazilian farm and it’s shrinking every year. These small farms cannot compete with the reputation of neighbouring countries, creating a vicious circle that might finally make all coffee production from Bolivia disappear.

Flavour: sweet and clean, sometimes lacking some fruitiness.

Brazil is famous as the largest coffee producing country: 1/3 of the world production comes from Brazil. There’s numerous causes for this, some of which being the large harbour in Rio de Janeiro and the historical slave imports, which started an industrial approach to things in the country. In 1830, 30% of the world coffee production came from Brazil, and in 1840 already 40%. In the 1920s 80% of the coffee in the world came from Brazil. The Great Depression in the 1930s caused a plummet in prices, so in 1962 the International Coffee Agreement set a quote for minimum prices. In 1989, Brazil broke this contract and prices kept plummeting, inspiring the Fair Trade movement. Because of the market share of the Brazilian industry, this also affected the rest of the world. In the end, it became the most industrially advanved coffee producing country. Pretty much every coffee can be traced to a specfic farm since most are big enough to process and ship coffee themselves. The relatively flat country and the industrial approach means farms in Brazil tend to have little natural shade, more use of pesticides and generally mechanical harvesting.

Flavour: low acidity, full bodied and sweet. Usually nutty and chocolate-like.

Colombia began very early with marketing its coffee under the Juan Valdez label in 1958. Colombian coffee prices inflated so more investments were possible. This was all coordinated by the national coffee federation. This federation is unique in the world in its size and influence; this means it can also be a bureaucratic nightmare for exporters. It does not only meddle with coffee exports and prices, but also with infrastructure, education and health. It even invests in other industries to stimulate the entire economy so that the coffee industry may profit. General coffee quality depends partially on this federation: about 10 years ago the coffee production was in danger and farmers were stimulated to plant the Castillo variety. This is definitely not bad for quality, but it was noticeable that farmers were not educated enough about how to process this coffee compared to the Caturra variety they used to have. Some farmers therefore thought Castillo was inferior in quality, and later started planting Caturra again.

Flavour: full bodied and chocolate-like, with jam-like complex fruitiness. Extremely diverse flavour potential.

Costa Rica had contact with Western countries early on and built an excellent infrastructure for coffee. This westernization allowed for higher prices and therefore more investments. This approach is still noticeable these days, as many experimential processing methods originate from Costa Rica.

Flavour: clean and sweet, generally with a medium, nutty body.

El Salvador was the third largest coffee producing country at the end of the 19th century, but nowadays only produces half as much. Coffee helped building the infrastructure in the country and allowed for more westernization. Farmers generally have a lot of contact with consuming countries and can be quite innovative. Most farms produce Bourbon, but also Pacas and Pacamara are often used for high-grade coffee. Farms are pretty much always traceable and usually also work with microlots.

Flavour: nutty and juicy, a bit Kenya-like, sweet and balanced with a soft acidity.

Guatemala has been producing less and less coffee in the past few years because of the 2001 financial crisis and a leaf rust plague. Many farms still sell single estate coffee and are open to collaborations with consuming countries. Still, a lot of coffee is produced by smallholder farms and sold to cooperatives.

Some coffees have SHB in their name: Strictly Hard Bean, which is a certain quality descriptor, usually used for low specialty grades.

There is also another name, EP, or European Preparation. Coffee with this label is 100% above screen 15 and has a maximum of 8 defects per 300 grams of coffee. AP, or American Preparation, is 100% above screen 13 and has a maximum of 23 defects per 300 grams. These two categories are used in the commercial market.

Flavour: diverse, light-bodied and sweet. Usually orange-like, rich but also woody.

Honduras hasn’t produced high-grade coffee for a long term, but it’s getting better and better. The geography is excellent, but the climate is not: a lot of rain makes drying coffee difficult. Most coffees from Honduras are commercial grade, but some of the direct trade farms nowadays, after years of work, produce extremely high grade coffee.

Flavour: usually nutty and mellow with a delicately layered sweetness.

Mexico relied very much on the International Coffee Agreement, but when it was broken by Brazil in 1989, the country got divided. Some farmers stopped caring about quality and took the commercial route, some even stopped picking cherries. Others formed cooperatives and starting collaborating with international brands to resume production. Nowadays, lots of certificates like Fair Trade and RFA are used for commercial reasons, and most coffee is exported to the United States.

Flavour: high body, lots of dark chocolate and caramel.

Nicaragua had a very diverse coffee production in the past. After the last crash in coffee prices a large part of the entire economy  crashed, but now the country is recovering. Coffee is getting more and more traceable and more and more investments are made. Sometimes, fantastic coffee can already be found, where others are not amazing yet but are definitely improving every year.

Flavour: diverse, usually complex with forest fruits, clean acidity, nutty body.

Panama has many different microclimates in many different regions, making its coffee diverse in flavour. It got a lot of attention from producers and consumers alike, the famous La Esmeralda Geisha being one reason, making extreme quality more common but also more expensive. Working conditions for employees are generally great and houses are quite expensive, which also adds to the costs of coffee. Almost every coffee can be traced back to a specific farm and even a microlot.

Flavour: citrus-like and light body. Forest fruits, delicate, complex and floral.

Peru had a slow start, but lately the focus has shifted to coffee. It’s starting to grow exponentially in quantity of exported coffee, and the quality is improving as well, though not as quickly. Many varieties grown in this origin, like Typica, have difficulties dealing with leaf rust, still.

Flavour: clean and soft, but often too mellow. Sweet and full bodied, but not always a balanced complexity.

Venezuela used to produce a lot of coffee, but its production has diminished in the past few years. The government started to set the price which is below production costs, so the industry is moving backwards rapidly. This also means coffee is generally sold per region, because the only reason for its production to remain financially viable by collectively processing all lots.

Flavour: sweet, little acidity, balanced mouthfeel, heavy body.


Burundi suffered from political instability for a long time, which also affected the coffee production and macro economy. Since 1991 it has slowly but steadily started increasing its coffee output and quality. Generally, coffee is grown by smallholder farms and collected in collective washing stations. Since 2008, more and more coffees are traceable back to the washing stations, so there is more transparancy and quality assurance over the years. Good coffee from Burundi is often of the Bourbon variety, but other varieties may also occur. Burundi is, along Rwanda, one of the countries suffering from the potato defect. This is an extremely noticeable defect with which one infected bean can absolutely destroy a beverage. The cause for this defect is generally bacteria in an unclean fermentation tank.

Flavour: berry-like and juicy, but with more body and less florals than most Kenyans.

Cameroon is an origin where you will not often find anything better than commercial grade coffee that people produce just because they can to earn some money. Getting in touch with farmer groups is no easy task, and convincing them to put more energy and effort into coffee is even more difficult. Some projects have proven to be successful though, and more and more coffees start heading towards the specialty segment.

Flavour: dark chocolate, spices, some red fruits.

The Democratic Republic of Congo was one of the biggest coffee exporters in Africa in the 1970s and 1980s, mainly in the Lake Kivu area. In the 1990s, however, a wave of violence crashed upon the country. Still, around 4,000 small farmers kept on producing coffee. Since 2012, the World Coffee Research has already invested 6 million dollars in the Congolese coffee industry to revitalise the area. An analysis from 2016 by the WCR showed that most farmers actually lose money by growing coffee. The most important reasons for this are exhausted soil, the combination of coffee and beans production, and the lack of good varieties. Based on these results, the WCR shipped 26 new varieties to Kivu to experiment with.

Flavour: comparable with Rwandan Bourbons: somewhat fruity, chocolate-like and creamy.

Ethiopia is one of the most renowned coffee origins in the specialty industry, due to the coffee’s inherit flavour as well as the local coffee culture and its mysteries. Here, coffee is grown in forests, gardens and actual farms and collected in washing stations. Generally, this means coffee is traceable back to the cooperative and is comprised of many naturally mutated varieties, yet there are some single farm projects nowadays.

Flavour: citrus-like acidity, jasmin aromas and a tea-like body. Naturals generally develop an intense, peach-like sweetness.

Kenya only started producing coffee quite late at the end of the 19th century. Despite Ethiopia being a neighbouring country, the first coffee was brought by French missionaries from the island Reunion. First, all production was done under British colonial reign; in 1933 the Coffee Act was written and Kenya became a self-producing country. In 1934, the auction and quality systems were developed that are still used at present.In 1963, Kenya became independent and farmers became more innovative and proactive.

Kenya has a systematic and reliable system for its quality grading. Since flavour is not easily graded in origin, their sorting mainly focuses on size of the beans, which results in the following grades:

  • E – elephant beans
  • AA – one of the larger screen sizes (above screen 18 or 7.22mm)
  • AB – about 30% of Kenyan coffee consists of this combination of grade A (screen 16, 6.80mm) and grade B (screen 15, 6.20mm). In general, AB coffees see, to have more sparkling acidity, whereas AA coffees are more delicate and balanced.
  • PB – peaberries are mutations where there’s a single bean in a cherry. These are often praised for their pungent, excitable and seemingly concentrated flavours.
  • There are also other categories like C, TT, T and MH/ML that include a wide range of commercial grades.

Kenyan coffee can come from single farms, but is generally traceable back to the washing station. Most washing stations make microlot selections based on harvest date, quality, weather patterns, etc, but still these may consist of a lot of different small farms.

Flavour: complex, bright and juicy. High sweetness and acidity, with taste descriptors like berries, flowers and forest fruits.

Malawi is an origin you don’t come across very often in the specialty industry. In the past, the country suffered from many different diseases and plant infections, so people started planting cultivars with high resistance to these diseases and pests. Coffee can be traaceable to cooperatives as well as single farms.

Flavour: sweet and bright, but with less body and clarity than other East-African origins.

Rwanda only started producing coffee in the beginning of the 20th century. The mandate by the Belgian rulers to produce coffee caused many farmers to produce low quality coffee with high yields. This approach, which also caused some soil fatigue, combined with the large genocide in the 1990s, caused very low prices and therefore low quality coffee. International aid after the genocide helped rebuilding the country and the coffee industry. Coffee became the symbol of the Rwandese economy and modern washing stations were built. The only issue was that the large-scale forced rebuilding also left scars on the ground. Coffee is traceable back to cooperatives and washing stations, because most farmers only have a small bit of land to produce coffee on.

Flavour: intense, sometimes tropical sweetness or berry-like acidity. Medium body. Can be very diverse, similar to Colombian coffee.

Tanzania received its first coffee from Ethiopia very early in the 16th century. Exports were still controlled by the government until the 1990s. A few years later, a huge epidemic spread through the country that made farmers have to cut down most of the coffee plants. This is why nowadays, most coffee is of high-resistance varieties like robusta. Around 10% of the coffee is grown on big farms that can produce high quality coffee. Most other coffee is traceable back to the washing station and can vary in quality.

Flavour: bright acidity, often fruity. Generally juicy with a medium body, though not very articulate.

Zambia is often ignored in the specialty coffee industry. This leads to few to no investments, so the country has difficulties with increasing its quality and renown. Coffee was introduced in the 1950s and was only grown on a larger scale in the 1980s. Diseases convinced farmers to start planting resistant cultivars like Catimor, but shortly after, the government stimulated planting Bourbon trees to increase the quality of exported coffee. Good coffee is difficult to find, but can sometimes be found on the larger farms. The main problem is that there is little interest in specialty coffee, despite the great geography, varieties and modern installations.

Flavour: the few good coffees can be bright and floral and very clean.


India is mainly known for its commercial grade coffee. The relatively low altitudes and the climate are much more suitable for Robusta coffees rather than high-grade specialties. The people do spend a lot of energy on their coffee, so their robustas are relatively good. One famous other type of coffee from India is the Monsoon Malabar; this coffee is “rained wet” during the processing like happened in early days during the monsoon. The coffee loses acidity, but gets wild, distinctive flavours back in return. Farms in India are quite small, so mostly coffee is traceable to an area or even just the port.

Flavour: heavy, creamy, spicy, low acidity, not very complex

Indonesia got their first coffee as a gift from the East India trading Company in the early 18th century. Most farms here have their own, unique way of processing coffee that involves fermentation in closed, plastic bags which generally imparts unpleasant flavours from a specialty perspective. The last few years more and more farmers started producing high-grade washed coffees, based on recommendations from the industry. These coffees may now be traceable to single farms or cooperatives, but are getting better and better every year.

Kopi Luwak, the famous coffee that makes its way through the intestinal system of civet cats, is a famous story from Indonesia, but also a disgrace to the industry. People are (nowadays fortunately less and less) too obsessed with the story to realize that cats are being mistreated and force-fed bad coffee, just so the people are able to sell it at ten times the price.

Flavour: full bodied, somewhat earthy, woody and low acidity for traditional coffee. Bright red fruits and sparkly acidity for properly washed coffee.

Myanmar has only recently begun to produce specialty coffee, but has done so at incredible speed. It is even difficult to say you’re dealing with the country rather than a specific village or farmour group, because of the primitive, uncentralized way of doing business.

Flavour: so diverse and unknown that nothing much can be written about it just yet

Papua Nieuw Guinea started taking coffee more seriously in the 20th century. In the 1970s, cooperatives got into trouble because of plummeting market prices and the coffee industry got decentralized. Nowadays the industry consists for 95% of smallholder farms. Many of these farmers work together to create the amounts of coffee needed for export.

Flavour: creamy and rich, a lot of sweetness and high complexity. Tricky to find good lots, though.

Yemen got coffee very early on from Ethiopia. Only a small part of the country is actually suitable for growing coffee and the production is not done very precisely. It does, however, have very recognizable and unique flavours, creating a stable demand for this origin. This also inflated the prices. It is difficult to trace coffee back to farmers; usually it can only go as far as the harbour Mocha or certain regions.

Flavour: wild, lightly fermented, complex and crisp.

An interesting thing about Thailand as a coffee origin, is that its domestic use of specialty coffee is quite big. This means there are many specialty roasters making use of the local produce. Compared to other origins, Thailand has therefore taken huge leaps in direct trade models and experimentation in processes.

Flavour: usually fruity, with a strong body like cacao and spices.


Most people are aware of the differences between Arabica and Robusta coffee. We work only with Arabica as it is of much higher quality than Robusta. However, within the Arabica family there are thousands of different varieties, each having its own, unique flavour profile. In the past years, many of these have been flown across the world,  so nowadays you often see Kenyan varieties being cultivated in Colombia or El Salvador, for instance. We explain a little about some of the more common varieties below, categorized by continent in which it’s most commonly found.


One of the oldest varieties in the world. It can give very high quality coffee, but its cherry production is quite limited.

Flavour: sweet and clean, usually with a strong body and less acidity.

A natural Bourbon-Typica hybrid, named after the place in Brazil where it was first found in the 1940s. It’s still most commonly found in Brazil. Its high yield and high resistance to diseases make it easier to cultivate at those low altitudes and with machine harvesting.

Flavour: lower acidity and full bodied. Usually nutty and chocolate-like, but can have a clear yet simple fruity note.

A Bourbon mutation discovered in Brazil in 1937. It has such a high yield, that it sometimes produces more fruits than it can handle. This can be prevented with proper farm maintenance. It’s very popular in most Central- and South-American origins, especially Costa Rica and Colombia. The berries can be red and yellow and usually grow quite low, making it easier to pick.

Flavour: light to medium body, clear acidity like red or yellow fruits and sometimes some floral notes. Less intense than its Bourbon parent.

A hybrid between Caturra and Mundo Novo, created by the Instituto Agronomico do Campinas in Brazil in the 1950s and 1960s. It has the low growth of Caturra with the body of Mundo Novo. Once again, the cherries can be both red and yellow. It is seen less commonly than Caturra, but still cultivated as separate lots in especially Panama and Brazil.

Flavour: quite easy-going, with some fruitiness, some florals and a medium body.

A Caturra – Timor hybrid, designed to be fully resistant against leaf rust. The Timor gives the coffee a lot more body which can distract from the fruity Caturra and can remind one of Robusta. It is mostly used in high commercial grade coffee since the specialty market prefers cleaner, brighter coffees.

Flavour: nutty, strong body with the sweetness pushed a little to the background.

A Typica mutation that is easily recognizable by its large size. These beans are therefore sometimes called “elephant beans”. Its distinctive size and shape require a slightly different processing and roasting. If done properly, it can produce excellent coffees!

Flavour: intense sweetness like red fruits with a medium acidity and medium body.

For years, Geisha has been the most prized and also the most controversial coffee variety in the world. Most of the awards for best coffee in the world and most expensive coffee ever traded go to this variety. Its origin might be found in Ethiopia, yet this is still often debated. It became famous in Panama, where the Peterson Family cultivated it at Finca La Esmeralda and became the most famous coffee farm in the world. Nowadays, most competition coffees are of the Geisha variety.

Flavour: extreme florals, bright and lively sweetness, clean acidity, tea-like body.

A natural Bourbon mutation, discovered in 1949 in El Salvador. It looks quite similar to the Caturra, though usually found to be of higher quality.

Flavour: clean sweetness, medium body, medium acidity, less florals btu more sweetness than Caturra.

Named after the village in Costa Rica where it was first found, Villa Sarchi is also a natural Bourbon mutation. Its quality is very high, but it is very difficult to find.

Flavour: similar to Bourbon with high sweetness, nicely balanced with a medium body.

Obata was designed in Brazil in the early 21st century as an Arabica – Robusta hybrid to make it more resistant. It was then also exported to Costa Rica, though it is now still more commonly found in Brazil.

Flavour: a lot of body with nutty flavours, with a soft sweetness and low acidity.

A hybrid between Pacas and Maragogype, created in El Salvador in 1958. Its high yield and big beans make it very popular. If properly cultivated and processed, it can give excellent quality coffee.

Flavour: some florals, bright berry-like sweetness and medium body.

Introduced in Colombia in 2005, Castillo is a Robusta – Arabica hybrid made to be more resistant to leaf rust and diseases. In the 2010s, the Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia (FNC) heavily stimulated the cultivation of Castillo instead of Caturra trees. What farmers didn’t know was that Castillo needs to be picked a little later (early purple) than Caturra (late red). Too early picking made people think Castillo tastes more nutty and less sweet than Caturra and gave it a bad name. In recent years, though, comparisons showed the potential that Castillo has if properly processed.

Flavour: intense, diverse sweetness like red fruits. Medium to high body. 


A natural Typica mutation that originated on the island of Reunion (back then called Bourbon). Early on, it was shipped to Brazil, from where it spread across Central and South America. Later, it was reintroduced in East-Africa, especially in Rwanda and Burundi. Nowadays, almost all coffee from those two countries is Red Bourbon. Yellow Bourbon, Orange Bourbon and Pink Bourbon are more commonly found in American origins.

It has a higher yield than Typica, though still relatively small. Its inherent sweetness can be bright and lively and is often praised in specialty coffee. The Red and Pink varieties have more brightness and acidity, whereas the Orange and Yellow Bourbons have a more smooth mouthfeel and more body.

Flavour: berry-like, juicy and bright.

One of the most prized varieties in the world. Designed in the 1930s by Scott Laboraties, based on a drought-resistant variety from Tanzania. This variety was originally used in Kenya from where it spread across the world. It is still quite susceptible to leaf rust and performs a lot better at higher altitudes. The coffee beans are usually quite large.

Flavour: very recognizable acidity like blackcurrant. Medium to low body and lots of florals.

Very comparable to SL-28 and often used together in microlot selections. Though comparisons are tricky to make, the general consensus is that SL28 is of slightly higher quality. SL-34 is aimed at even higher altitudes than SL-28.

Flavour: blackcurrants, similar to SL-28, also with florals and a low body, but a little less brightness.

Heirloom is not a variety by itself; rather it is a name given to a group of uncategorized varieties. In Ethiopia, a low of coffee grows in the wild, allowing for a lot of natural mutations. These have never been categorized very extensively, so nowadays people keep discovering new varieties in this country. Sometimes you will find varieties with names like Setami, though usually it’s just a catalogue number. Still, most Ethiopian coffees are simply given the “heirloom” title for convenience’s sake.

Flavour: extremely diverse as it is one big mish-mash, though usually quite floral and a bright citric acidity with very low body.


Originally found in Ethiopia, then brought to Indonesia where it got its name. It was then shipped to Cameroon because it’s a strong plant that’s relatively easy to cultivate.

Flavour: usually more body-focused with a mild sweetness and acidity, though it can produce unique flavour profiles.


Ever since the connection between purchasers and producers became more intensive, more and more experiments with processing has been done. There are a few basic processes that we will first describe, after which we will go more into more detail regarding interesting variations.


Natural processing may seem the easiest way to process coffee cherries, as all one needs to do is dry the cherries. Once the beans inside are properly dried, they are then taken out of the cherry and hulled. The tricky thing is that the cherries contain a lot of moisture and sugars, so there is a high risk of mold. Proper airflow and regular turning of the cherries can prevent this.

Flavour: more intense sweetness and more body, usually with a “wild, fermenty” flavour. Naturals tend to taste more similar to each other than washed coffees. Properly processed, a natural can still be extremely bright and clean, though this is very difficult to achieve.


The complete opposite of a natural. Washed coffees are first depulped after picking and then fermented for some time to loosen the mucilage from the beans. The beans are then washed to get all the mucilage off and then dried. This process is easier to control and the coffee dries quicker, but it does require a lot of water.

Flavour: enhanced brightness and acidity, usually with less body.

Pulped natural

Pulped natural coffees are most commonly found in Brazil. Coffee cherries are depulped after picking, but then immediately put on drying beds rather than being fermented and washed first.

Flavour: enhanced body and less acidity, yet with more clarity than a natural.

Honey process / semi-washed

Honey process lies in between washed and pulped natural. The coffee cherries are depulped and fermented, but the producer can decide how much mucilage stays on the beans by taking them out of the fermentation tank a little earlier. Leaving a lot of mucilage on is called Black Honey, and taking more off ranges from Black to Red, Orange, Yellow and White Honey.

Flavour: depends on the amount of mucilage: more mucilage means more body and less florals or acidity.

Cherry Ferment

This is a processing method that we designed together with Juan Pablo Argote. It is a hybrid between washed and natural coffee. The coffee cherries are fermented before being depulped, and then immediately washed to get as much mucilage off as possible.

Flavour: the bold sweetness of a natural, but with more clarity and a more bright body like a washed coffee.


Anaerobic processing has become insanely popular in the past years due to its success in the competition scene. Anaerobic fermentation allows for prolonged fermentation times with lower risk of defects. It changes the type of fermentation to produce wildly new flavour profiles.

Flavour: more pungent sweetness, more complexity, more brightness and usually a boozy, candy-like body.