How the origin of coffee beans impacts the taste

Michael Elligett

With over 70 countries growing coffee, it can be hard to know what differentiates them and where to turn to for the perfect beans.  

The origin of your beans creates a major difference in taste. Knowing these differences is useful whether you’re picking a unique blend for your café, office or home addiction.  

The difference in taste comes down to processing methods, climate, altitude, sunlight, and what coffee varieties are available in the region. 

Most of the world’s coffee supply is produced by four main regions: South America, Central America, Africa and Asia. Read on for the broad common characteristics found in each of them, so that you can choose the right fit.  

South America 

Known for its sweetness and aroma. Main contributors include: 


  • Common flavours include nuts, chocolate and caramel  
  • A more mellow acidity 


  • Common flavours include chocolate and spice 
  • Nuttery, buttery, chocolate-like
  • Long-lasting taste
  • Frequent component in espresso blends due to heavy body 

Central America  

  • Main contributors include Guatemala, Honduras, and Costa Rica 
  • Due to the climate and higher altitude at which the beans are grown, the coffee tends to be more acidic 
  • Characterised by a balance of acidity and fruitiness 
  • Common flavours include fruit and nuts 
  • Commonly used across the US due to its close proximity


  • Main contributors include Kenya and Ethiopia  
  • Known for fruity and floral notes 
  • Coffee grown in a completely different climate to America, mostly without shade, giving a distinct and bold tropical, savory-sweet characteristic  
  • High levels of acidity
  • Diverse range of beans due to multiple processing methods used, but commonly include a tea-like body, berry aromas and/or lighter lemongrass or jasmine characteristics 


  • Main contributors include Indonesia and Vietnam  
  • Known for earthy, spicy and smoky notes
  • Dark and robust flavours
  • Bitter, less aromatic, often likened to dark chocolate
  • Beans often used for dark roasts

These differences are just a guide and will vary across each individual producer. In an increasingly global world, technologies and methods are being shared across borders.  

So, what’s the best way to notice the different tastes? Drink your coffee black! If you want to observe distinct regional flavours, make sure that your coffee is single origin.  

At The Café Supplier, our in-house roasted Mount K. signature coffee blend uses beans from across various regions. With beans from Brazil, Colombia, Sumatra and India, it has the perfect balance of worldly flavours.  

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