Coffee grows in the sunny equatorial belt around the world. It's 1000 miles big and runs from The Tropic of Cancer to The Tropic of Capricorn. Through the years many have tried and failed to proliferate this bean outside of its warm and snuggly comfort zone and thankfully have failed, insuring that we only have the best.
While dimming the lights and soft music is in order to encourage reproduction of many species, this is quite the opposite of the coffee plant. With the exception of shade grown, the promiscuous, yet fickle coffee plant most often produces its cherries in hot, passionate sunny regions whilst in the mood. Tropical mist and fruity drinks encourage such frisky behavior. They have the same effect on me!... Warm, year-round climes and generous rainfall are commonplace here, and required of coffee. But did you know that coffee grown at higher elevations in these tropical areas produces some of the finest brews? Some say the best. Think of the rugged mountains of Colombia and Guatemala or the volcanic slopes of Java and Sumatra -- high places known for their full-flavored, robust coffee. Does altitude make cultivation more difficult? Does working on a hillside require one leg to be shorter than the other? Yes and no.
There's no doubt that coffees grown at lower altitudes can also be exceptional, though the conditions at lower elevations are often less than ideal. Beans can over-ripen or receive too much moisture. And because the trees produce beans non-stop, the flavor and quality can be diluted. Some say that's why these types of coffees are best suited for mass production, where low elevation coffee plantations are easier and more efficient to farm.
Over 75 countries grow coffee and the world's best farmers cultivate specialty beans. These farmers are often from countries that are not the largest volume producers of beans but I believe they are the best. They nurture their plants with love and are fueled on a quest to create the ultimate cup of excellence. Quality over quantity is what specialty coffee farmers are about.
Now, hop on my balloon and join me as we float quickly over many extraordinary coffeegrowing regions...