Top 5 Coffee Destinations
By Samantha Fergusson
There aren’t many aromas that can top the scent rising from your cup of freshly-brewed coffee in the morning. It is – in a word – heavenly. One day, you may find yourself wondering about where the coffee in your cup has come from… is it South American? African? Or perhaps Asian?
If you’ve ever felt the desire to trace your beans back to their source and see how they develop from fresh-out-the-earth to freshly ground, we’ve gathered together five of the best coffee destinations where you can see it all happening in some of the most beautiful countries the world has to offer.
Colombian coffee is frequently regarded as some of the highest quality coffee in the world. The country’s incredible geography - with the Andes providing all the altitude you could ever desire, as well as breath-taking views - lends itself perfectly to producing fantastic arabica beans. They have been exporting coffee since the 1860s (though it’s believed that coffee could have been in the country from as early as the 17th century) and are still ranked as one of the world’s top producers. When you visit, make sure you venture into the verdant, green mountains of the Quindío department to wander through the traditional coffee villages, tour the plantations, then rest your weary feet whilst sipping on a hot cup of the local brew, savouring the hints of nuts and caramel sweetness… bliss.
Around 95% of Nicaragua’s coffee comes from small-scale farmers, and much of it is “shade-grown”. Therefore, by drinking their produce, not only are you supporting independent suppliers, you are also enjoying coffee that has been produced in a very sustainable fashion; the beans being grown beneath the existing native foliage maintains the country’s delicate ecosystem.
This makes the coffee plantations incredibly beautiful places through which to wander, as not only is Nicaraguan coffee grown in wonderful lush forest, it is also some of the highest grown, with farms in regions such as Matagalpa resting at altitudes often topping those in the rest of Central America. At some points in your walks you are surrounded by plants and vegetation, then the dense foliage suddenly breaks, revealing views of deep valleys and soaring volcanic mountains. The winning combination of shade-growing and altitude brings the tendency for acidity in the coffee beans to a minimum and delivers a medium-bodied, well-balanced brew to your cup.
It is highly likely that you have sipped upon Ugandan Arabica coffee before (these popular beans are grown on the dramatic slopes of Mount Elgon or in the mountains bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo), but you may not be aware that Uganda has its own native variety of coffee – Robusta. Some varieties of the wild Robusta coffee can still be found scattered through the rainforests, but they are thought to be among the rarest examples of naturally occurring coffee trees anywhere in the world. Most of the Robusta is grown at high altitudes, and is very popular with the espresso industry – keep your eyes peeled if you’re partial to a caffeine shot…
The coffee plant (coffea arabica) actually originates in Ethiopia, supposedly having been discovered by goatherds around 1,000 years ago, and coffee in its liquid form is an integral part of Ethiopian culture, even featuring in its own ceremony. Where better to go if you want to get to the true home of this wonderful drink? Most of the country’s coffee is grown in the south-western highlands in the Kaffa and Buno districts, with about 40,000 hectares of these areas being covered in coffee plants. Ethiopia’s beans are renowned for their exceptional range in flavours, from winey to fruity to citrusy, but like their Nicaraguan counter-parts they are also low in acidity. This makes them, in our opinion, perfect for all coffee lovers; whatever flavour you tend to prefer, Ethiopia can most likely provide.
Indonesia has a fantastic repertoire of coffee varieties sourced from across its islands. Each region produces coffee beans with their own distinct flavour (we’re sure a coffee sommelier exists somewhere who can sit and distinguish one from the other with just a sniff). For example, Java coffee is known for its heavy body with a nice lasting finish and herbaceous notes, while Bali’s brew is distinctly sweeter than that of the rest of Indonesia. If you want to sample the delights of Indonesian coffee in its homeland, then we strongly suggest heading to east Java, where heavenly beaches riddle the shoreline and volcanoes burst through the thick forest canopies. Coffee plantations are scattered throughout Indonesia though, so we know that anywhere you go will be sure to provide that perfect steaming cup!
Make it happen
Inspired to visit some of the world's most beautiful coffee destinations? Get in touch with our local travel experts in Indonesia, Ethiopia, Uganda, Nicaragua and Colombia, and let them know what you are after. All they need are a few details to get the planning underway. To speak with someone in the TravelLocal office, call 0117 325 7898.