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The Best Coffee From Each Continent
Do you fancy yourself a coffee connoisseur? Are you on a quest to track down the ever elusive best coffee in the world? Hold on, backup a second. As a self proclaimed coffee connoisseur, you should know that everyone has a unique palate, and what is the best to you, may not be the best to someone else!
So where does that leave you? Well, it leaves you on a solo journey to discover which coffee is the best in the world to you! There are hundreds of different coffee growing regions spread out through numerous countries across the globe, each offering different coffee beans what could end up being your favorite!
Don’t be overwhelmed, we’ll help you navigate the immense world of coffee, continent by continent. We’ll even include our picks for the best coffee from each continent!
We begin our discussion with Africa partially because it is considered to be the birthplace of coffee, and partially because Africa comes first alphabetically.
The majority of Africa sits within an ideal latitude range that contains the appropriate climate for coffee growth. The major players in African coffee production are Ethiopia, Uganda, Ivory Coast, Tanzania and Kenya.
Although African coffee can vary quite widely, there are a few trademark aspects that you can expect from the majority of African beans;
-Floral or fruity aroma
-Notes of citrus, berries and wine
There is of course, plenty of deviations from this standard profile. With so many options, it can be difficult to have any idea where to begin. To save you this immense stress, we’ll provide our pick for the best African coffee. And the winner is…
Tanzanian Peaberry coffee is considered by many to be among the best coffee in the world. While a claim like that is hard to back up, these beans are most definitely among the world’s elite.
Tanzanian Peaberry beans make for a rich, full-bodied cup of coffee with a wine-toned acidity. Notes of fruit and wine are on display in a highly concentrated fashion. If you are unfamiliar with what peaberries are, they are a type of coffee bean that has grown as a single rounded bean, instead of the usual two halves. This occurs rarely in nature, and is said to lead to an amplified flavor! You really need to try this one to understand the hype surrounding it.
Ethiopian Yirgacheffe deserves an honorable mention here too. It’s pretty difficult to pick a favorite coffee for any one African country, let alone the entire continent! You can check out a more comprehensive list of the best African coffee beans here!
Next up is Asia, home to a numerous distinguished coffee profiles. The majority of coffee production coming out of Asia is from the Southern countries, that are close enough to the equator to benefit from a warm climate. Vietnam, Indonesia and India are the biggest contributors in the Asian coffee market. According to the International Coffee Organization, Vietnam is second only to Brazil in coffee production!
It is difficult to describe an average cup of Asian coffee, because there is such immense variety. Vietnam produces primarily Robusta coffee beans, India produces both Arabica and Robusta beans, and Indonesia is made up of a number islands with distinct growing conditions! You can probably expect your Asian coffee to include at least a few of the following characteristics;
-Smooth & full-bodied
-Notes of chocolate, earth and ripe fruit
Again the overwhelming issue of picking from a seemingly infinite number of options comes in to play. To be honest, it would be hard to pick a top 5 for Indonesian coffees alone. That being said, we’ve managed to make a decision. Our pick for the best Asian coffee is…
Sumatra is a world renowned Indonesian island that produces some seriously top notch coffee. Sumatra Mandheling beans produce a cup of coffee that is rich, full-bodied and low in acidity. Notes of chocolate and herbs are balanced with some earthy character. This coffee is very highly regarded by coffee connoisseurs around the world, and is sure to be appreciated by the experienced coffee drinker.
Indonesia has so many different islands and growing regions, that you really need to try multiple coffees to experience everything the country has to offer. You can check out a closer look at the best Indonesian coffees here!
You may be surprised to hear that there is actually a booming coffee production industry Antarctica.
Just kidding, there isn’t. Let’s move on!
Australia has access to some of the best coffee in the world from Indonesia and many nearby islands. Australia has a coffee culture that is as popular as that of North America and Europe, and Australians expect the best from their roasters. Rest assured, the high quality imported beans are in good hands, and the highly experienced Australian roasters are able to satisfy the expectations of their customers.
There are a few coffee growing regions in Australia, mostly scattered along the East coast. And while we would tend to recommend sticking with an Indonesian born, Australian roasted bean, there are definitely some worthy Australian coffees that are worth trying! If you’re dead set on giving an Australian grown coffee a try, go for…
Mackellar Range New South Wales
Full disclosure, this is the only Australian coffee that we’ve tried, but it’s good! We would definitely drink it again if the opportunity were to present itself. This one is fairly mild, low in acidity and caffeine, and showcases some tasty fruit and floral notes. Makes for a great light breakfast coffee!
Central American Coffee
Central America isn’t technically a continent and that we could have just included it with North America, but too late for that now. In terms of coffee growth, Central America and North America are very much separate entities. Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Costa Rica produce the most coffee, but it’s worth noting that Jamaica produces a highly regarded product as well.
There is again, believe it or not, quite a variety on display throughout Central America. Without getting too specific, you can expect Central American coffees to go something like this;
-Smooth & balanced
-wine-toned or fruity acidity
-Notes of citrus, tropical fruit, and spices
It’s that time again to decide what the best coffee of the continent is. While there are tons of great Central American beans, if we had to pick one, it would be…
Like we said before, Jamaica is not a large producer of coffee, but their Blue Moon beans are something special. These beans make a cup of coffee that is silky smooth, rich and creamy with notes of chocolate. This is another contender for the title of best coffee in the world. This one is not cheap, but is great for special occasions!
French roast, Italian roast, Spanish roast, Vienna roast… The point we’re trying to make is that there are a number of European countries and cities with roasts named after them. It goes without saying that Europe has an advanced coffee industry and consumers expect the best. In spite of this, Europe does not actually grow a whole lot of coffee, as the conditions are not ideal in most areas.
In order to taste the offerings of Europe, just give any dark roast a try, as French, Italian and Spanish roasts are all on the darker side (Vienna is medium-dark). If you are curious about beans that were physically grown in Europe, there are some available. And by some, we mean that pretty much your only option is…
We’ll be honest, none of us have tried this coffee, but we’d definitely like to! If you have tried it, please let us know how it is, as we’re quite curious. For the time being, we’re happy to stick with our European inspired dark roasts!
North American Coffee
When Central America is excluded, Mexico is the main large producer of coffee in North America. While there are definitely some very high quality Mexican coffees,the conversations needs to be steered toward the esteemed Kona coffee.
Hawaii is part of the United States. Hawaii may not technically be in the geographical region of North America, but come on, give North American coffee this one. It probably won’t come as a surprise that our pick for best “North American” coffee is…
Hawaiian Kona Coffee is widely considered to be one of the best coffees in the world. The western coast of the island of Kona puts forth optimal coffee growing conditions year round. A typical day in this region consists of a balance between sun and rain, and remains quite warm through the night.
Hawaiian Kona coffee can contain a variety of notes, including fruit, wine, chocolate, nuts and spices. A typically mild acidity is paired with a fruity or sugary sweetness. Kona coffee beans are quite expensive, but every coffee drinker should splash out and try some at least once.
On to South America, a juggernaut in the coffee production game. According to the International Coffee Organization, Brazil and Colombia are the first and third highest coffee producing countries respectively. Peru also produces a significant amount of coffee. The extensive mountainous ranges within South America allow for growth at high elevations. Pairing this with an ideal climate leads to some seriously high quality beans.
South American coffees vary quite widely, so much that trying to pinpoint an expected profile isn’t really very informative.
The majority of Brazilian coffee is thought to be quite mild and is often used in blends. Available at a very reasonable price, Brazilian beans can safely be blended with other beans without compromising the taste.
Now Colombian coffee on the other hand, has quite a high reputation. Our pick for best South American coffee is…
Colombian coffee, while also considered to be somewhat mild, has a much more prolific taste. What most people consider to be the taste of coffee in general, is the taste of Colombian coffee. You can expect a sweet aroma, medium to full body, and rich taste. Notes of fruit, nuts chocolate are common, along with a caramel-toned sweetness and citric acidity.
Supremo means more than just that the coffee is supremely good, (which it is). Supremo is actually the highest possible grade assigned to Colombian coffee. Supremo coffees are sorted to include only the biggest and best beans!
Colombia has a huge variety of coffees from several different regions. You can read more about the best Colombian coffees here!
The world is enormous and the coffee options are plentiful. Our picks for the best coffee from each continent represent the collective opinion of a small group, your favorites could very well be different! With so many different beans out there to try, you’d better get started! Cheers!
Zach Parkes is a self proclaimed coffee connoisseur and the founder of Try New Coffee, which provides a collection of in depth profiles for different coffees from around the world! When he’s not traveling or seeking out new coffees, you might find him on Twitter!