What Makes Our Coffee Beans Great?

February 22, 2023

by Natasha Nesic

Have you ever wondered what makes great coffee great?

It’s tasty, delicious, utterly drinkable…

Yes, those are things that make coffee great to have, but what about the factors that produce all that greatness that we ultimately get to sip on a cold winter morning, while the rest of the world sits under snow and sleep until the run rises across the windowpane?

(Mm, just thinking about it makes me crave coffee.)

You’ll notice— if you’ve been a good student and paying close attention to the Lardera articles! — that we talk a lot about environmental factors that contribute to the aroma and flavor of really, and I mean truly, excellent coffee beans.

Those factors are:

1. Mountains
2. Valleys
3. Soil
4. Shade
5. Seasons

All of these things can make— or break — your favorite cup.

Now, it might seem strange that non-leaf or non-plant matter can make actual plant matter taste the way it does. So, what is the exact effect of all these different circumstances? Read on to find out!

1. Mountains

The name of the coffee game here is altitude. Chart how far a landform is located above sea level, and you’ll notice how that means that its inhabitants are exposed to a vastly different sense of air pressure and atmosphere than you might be used to, especially if you live in a relatively flat, easy-to-travel-to place of residence.

This means that coffee beans grown at high altitudes are affected by reduced level of oxygen, which might result in more or less flavor depending on the other environmental factors, as well as the harvest it comes from.

For example, the https://www.lardera.com/peru-geisha-caturra-washed.html Geisha Caturra Washed coffee beans are produced by the excellent elevation of Peru’s mountain range.

2. Valleys

The same logic goes for lower altitudes, which you’ll get in coffee grown in areas with valleys that are below sea level.

If plants get to thrive and mature closer to the center of the earth, then that gives them greater access to whatever nutrients are in the soil— and if the soil itself is already a powerhouse, then you definitely want to capitalize on that benefit!

To taste what I mean, try popping a drip pack of Tipica Honey into your pour-over of choice (I love this one!).

3. Soil

Or better yet, try Lardera’s Junin Anaerobic before you read further about what we mentioned about soil containing beneficial, flavor-making nutrients.

As you sip, taste the varied and vivid nuances of the liquid. Every single drop is a product of everything that soil the coffee grew in— minerals, vitamins, even antioxidants! And in case you haven’t heard, antioxidants are awesome.)

4. Shade

But if you’re still feeling unclear about how this all ties together, that’s totally okay! From here, we get to bring you out of the shade and into the light.

Shade is vital to the growing process because it means that the farmer can control how much— or how little— sunlight the beans (safely housed inside their nurturing coffee berry, of course) are exposed to. As those beans mature, sufficient sunlight will help increase the flavors that get yielded in the cup, while poor or excess sun exposure will essentially dry them out by overheating the plants.

Lardera’s Junin Natural is an excellent example of a farm that found the perfect sun balance— not to dry, and not too shady!

5. Seasons

You’ll also notice that Lardera mentions “microclimates” around the regions that it sources its coffee. This is because different regions can have individual climates in certain small areas that are unlike the neighboring town or zone, hence calling them “microclimates” because of their smaller size in comparison to regular, large-scale climate areas covering whole countries or state lines, which you might see on television, or streaming weather updates online.

Since seasons are huge weather opportunities to play with the above factors of sun, soil, and shade, this means that different areas will be affected differently by the weather— even if the beans are located within a few miles of each other!

For example, if a particularly bad rainstorm hits, then suddenly those beans get an increase in shade, a decrease in soil (if some gets washed away), and a huge decrease in sunlight, because what sun can shine while there’s a hurricane overhead? All of these effects will impact the beans’ flavor at the end of the growing season.

If you yourself are also experiencing microclimates in rapid succession, we’d highly recommend checking out the Travel section of Lardera coffee! These are all great ways to make sure that you can tackle any kind of weather with a hot cup by your side through it all.

What surprised you about learning these factors? Let us know in the comments!