Site Information

 Loading... Please wait...
  • Call us on (754) 444-0679
  • My Account
  • Gift Certificates

Blog

What Defines a Coffee’s Terroir?

Posted on

Taken From Slate.com

I started drinking coffee in grad school but I didn’t enjoy it until I discovered Ethiopian coffee. Its characteristics were distinct from the scorched, flavored blends I was used to, and it came from a place rather than a company, which made it seem more real. As I slowly settled into Washington, where I now live, I sampled the city’s numerous Ethiopian restaurants and started to fixate on the coffee, which was always on the menu and always enriched my meals. Initially, I didn’t have the sophistication to acknowledge the differences between the coffees, so I decided that Ethiopian coffee in general was my favorite. But as I drank more, the vast differences between certain cups became too prominent to ignore. Many of the restaurants and cafes I frequented used similar bean types and brewing methods, but some cups were heavenly while others were repulsive. I didn’t get it: Did I like Ethiopian coffee or not?

Entering Nagadi Coffee of Silver Spring, Maryland, earlier this year, I was pretty convinced of my taste, particularly for Yirgacheffe beans. But within minutes of shaking the hand of Felix Tansil, Nagadi’s manager and head roaster, I was unsure if Ethiopian coffee even existed. Terroir, he explains, is too particular to be meaningful on the level of country. Countries are just too variable in geography and climate to be thought of singularly. For example, Brazil—one of the world’s largest coffee producers—contains rainforests, mountains, grasslands, and swamps. Can you imagine a supermarket in Brazil selling honeycrisps, McIntoshes, and pink ladies as American apples?

In fact, terroir is so specific that even narrower parameters like climate or geography are shaky. Terroir is microclimate: altitude, soil quality, temperature, humidity, access to sunlight. Slight modifications to any of these variables will affect the eventual profile of the coffee, even when coffee plants of the same species are grown on the same farm, in the same region, in the same country. Finca Kilimanjaro, the El Salvadorean farm of renowned coffee producer Aida Batlle, for example, produces the cultivars Bourbon and Kenyan SL-28, which vary in acidity and body.

Swing’s Coffee, he explains that changes in weather over the course of a year, or from year to year, can have a huge effect on coffee’s flavor. “I can have my finger on the pulse pretty much on everything in-house, but as far as this time next year, what that’s gonna taste like, that’s a different story,” he says. Because Swing’s produces many blended mixes, which must be consistent between changing yields and unforeseen weather patterns, Balkcom has to regularly adjust blend recipes to maintain customer expectations. This can involve switching farms or declining beans from established suppliers.

Does this mean that geography is a useless way of thinking about coffee? Not exactly. Generally, there are discernible differences between coffee beans from various regions—but they’re very broad. “African coffees tend to be light in body, but they’re bright. Latin American coffee tends to fall between Asian coffee and Indonesian and Indian coffee, which tend to be full in body and light in acidity,” Tansil says.

“I would say that you certainly are going to find, very generally speaking, a certain kind of flavor in East Africa, certainly Ethiopia. You’re gonna find a certain flavor in India, in southeast Asia. That’s not in anyone’s imagination, those are real differences,” Balkcom explains as we slurp a fruity Zimbabwean pour-over.

Continue Reading HERE 

View Comments


Is Single Origin Coffee really better?

The challenge for importing coffee has always been the authenticity of the bean and when you taste something really good, how do you know which farm produced such a superior taste? To resolve this, importers have worked closely with coffee farms to separate the processes to help identify the individual farms and lots where the coffee is produced. There are [...]

Read More »


How To Make Instant Coffee - Turkish Grind Coffee

Enjoy drinking high quality coffee but want something quick? Turkish coffee may be your answer.

Read More »


How To Make Better Iced Coffee

This article gives you some ideas on how to improve your coffee game this summer. Take full advantage of those vacation days and get your coffee spot on. It will help you when you hibernate in the winter and all you want to do is snuggle in bed and sip delicious flavorful coffee. Read more http://www.bustle.com/articles/169705-how-to-make-...

Read More »


The Struggles of Mexican Fair Trade Coffee Growers

Mexican coffee is good. Real good. In fact, Mexican growers compete with Brazil for the best cups of coffee. The Chiapas mountain region makes some amazing coffees and they have all types of struggles which this article discusses.Read more here http://www.marketplace.org/2016/06/28/world/low-pr...

Read More »


How Is Coffee Decaffeinated?

If you are a purist....close this post, as decaf is a sin that shouldn't be spoken about. For the rest of you, interested in learning a little bit more about the decaf process and how it becomes decaf, read on. The Chosen Bean only uses Swiss Water decaf. This is a natural process for decaffeination out of [...]

Read More »


NEW Espresso Launched: Samson - Fresh Roasted Coffee To Order

It has arrived! After many tireless hours of roasting R&D, Moshe (Morey) Ruza figured out the perfect recipe for our newest coffee. The beans are a mix from around the world and roasted to perfection. This is a medium roast and delivers the ultimate espresso - syrupy, bitter & acidic balance with an underlying sweet [...]

Read More »


Anonymous Drop Off

Cant give most of the details...but this was crazy! For the longest time I have wanted to get my hands on some coffee from a certain country which its almost impossible to get. Someone dropped this off at my door...and to my horror I discovered why we ALWAYS buy high quality coffee and reference check [...]

Read More »


Gimme Some Fresh Roasted Coffee Aroma

There is just nothing...I repeat...nothing like it. Have you ever passed coffee on the shelf and had the urge to just squeeze the bag and let that sweet delicious aroma light up your soul? Actually, the aroma of each coffee is different and fresh coffee has a special aroma that cannot be beat. Some smell sweet while others [...]

Read More »


The Chosen Bean, Whole Foods, Kedem Partner Up For Passover

While this has been under wraps for a while now, we are finally excited to announce that our coffee will be available nationally at Whole Foods through an exclusive partnership with Kedem. The coffee will be rolled out in the fall. All the coffees are fair trade and will include our Kosher for Passover Swiss [...]

Read More »