According to SCAA definitions, specialty coffee “refers to the highest quality green coffee beans roasted to their greatest flavor potential by true craftspeople and then properly brewed to well-established SCAA developed standards.”
 
These standards include an 80 point scale and excellent or outstanding quality in fragrance, aroma, flavor, aftertaste, acidity, body, uniformity, balance, clean cup, sweetness, and overall better taste than your average cup of joe.

The continent that any given coffee is grown in has a remarkable affect on the coffee’s flavor profile, and the profiles vastly differ from each other from continent to continent. Flavor profiles also differ from region to region within a continent, and even from farm to farm within any given region! 

This quick guide can serve as a basic overview of how coffees taste from region to region:

CENTRAL AMERICA

  • Costa Rica – medium body, citrus, nutty

  • Guatemala – can be spicy, smoky, chocolate, earthy or delicate, floral, fruity, sweet

  • Honduras – crisp, light-bodied, nutty, spicy

  • Mexico – light/medium bodied, milk chocolate, bright, lively, fruity

  • Nicaragua – mild acidity, vanilla, hazelnut, chocolate, pear

  • Panama – zesty, lively, spicy, lemongrass, herbal

  • El Salvador – pretty similar to Nicaraguas

SOUTH AMERICA

  • Bolivia – medium body, caramel, chocolate, can be flowery and fruity

  • Brazil – medium/full body, low acidity, milk chocolate, fruity

  • Colombia – medium body, medium acidity, fruity, nutty

  • Ecuador – light/medium body, medium acidity, caramel, fruit, nutty

  • Peru – medium body, medium acidity, spice, nutty, chocolate, earthy

 

AFRICA AND ARABIA

  • Congo – full body, low acidity, intense, chocolate, nutty, tobacco, vanilla, earthy, spicy

  • Ethiopia – the birthplace of coffee and the most diverse region in the world, full body, chocolate, cherry, creamy, earthy, blueberry or medium body, flowery, herbal, nutty

  • Kenya – full body, zesty, citrus, floral, herbal

  • Rwanda – medium body, chocolate, floral, nutty

  • Tanzania – medium body, woody, earthy, spicy

  • Uganda – full body, chocolate, creamy, vanilla

  • Yemen – full body, chocolate, winy

  • Zimbabwe – medium body, woody, low acidity, herbal, vegetal, spicy

INDONESIA AND ASIA

  • Bali – full body, low acidity, creamy, nutty, chocolate, vanilla, earthy

  • India – full body, spicy, medium acidity, tropical fruit; monsooned

  • Malabars are very intense, full body, tobacco, low acidity

  • Sumatra – full body, intense, earthy, woody, gritty, low acidity

ISLANDS AND OTHERS

  • Australia – medium body, medium acidity, mild, juicy, syrupy

  • Dominican Republic – medium body, medium acidity, mild, sweet, caramel,

  • Hawaii – medium body, low acidity, creamy, vanilla, brown sugar

  • Jamaica – medium body, low acidity, tobacco, mellow, sweet

  • Puerto Rico – medium body, low acidity, smoky, creamy, buttery, nutty, sweet

So what's with the labels?

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