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Why Elevation Matters



A loyal customer asked me why I added the elevation to our labels. Great question! We add the average elevation of the harvested beans based on information we get from our supplier, The Coffee Shrub. And, yes, the elevation matters. Altitude, shade, and terroir are all significant variables in the quality of harvested green beans (Lara-Estrada, 2007). What kind of elevations are we talking about? Generally, anything above 1600 meters above sea level is considered high-grown coffee.


High-grown coffee has brighter notes in the flavor profile: think citrus and floral. That's not to say you won't experience things like cacao and chocolate in the cup. It does mean that altitude seems to bring out the full range of a bean's flavor.

Image credit: https://perccoffee.com/pages/seed-to-cup

Another characteristic of high-grown coffee is the density and size of the bean. Worku, Astatkie, & Boeckx (2022) argue that higher-grown coffees have higher density and lower bean size (generally), leading to higher costs in many cases.


Ultimately, elevation significantly affects the quality of the bean and ultimately (if roasted properly) the cup (Tassew, Yadessa, & Obso, 2021). We generally won't source coffee that is low-grown. Ultimately, we see the altitude as a factor in quality, and we want you to know about this critical variable.


References


Lara-Estrada, L. D. (2007). Effects of altitude, shade, yield and fertilization on coffee quality (Coffea arabica L. var. Caturra) produced. Journal of Food Science, 68(7), 2356-2361.


Tassew, A. A., Yadessa, G. B., Bote, A. D., & Obso, T. K. (2021). Influence of location, elevation gradients, processing methods, and soil quality on the physical and cup quality of coffee in the Kafa Biosphere Reserve of SW Ethiopia. Heliyon, 7(8), e07790. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2021.e07790


Worku, M., Astatkie, T., & Boeckx, P. (2022). Effect of growing conditions and postharvest processing on arabica coffee bean physical quality features and defects. Heliyon, 8(4).





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