Coffee Flavour Characteristics by Country.

Michael Mac Donald
Sep 3, 2016 · 2 min read
Image for post
Image for post
The Old SCAA flavour wheel.

I thought about this for a while and realized that it’s unrealistic to generalize when it comes to this kind of thing.

There are simply too many variables in play- like processing and varietals etc.

Disclaimer: This info is based on my own opinions that I’ve formulated over the years of Roasting and working with coffee in general. Some may find it interesting and useful, and others may not. All these descriptors are based on coffees with roast profiles somewhere between light and medium. I’ve tried to eliminate the obvious differences with varieties and processing to find a commonality with coffees of the same country.

I tried anyway- just for fun.


Mexico- Light bodied and very mild acidity with delicate flavours, often a little nutty.

Guatemala- Rich texture/body. Can have a lovely ‘deep’ fragrance. Sugar- driven flavour- often in the chocolate spectrum. Higher intensity level.

El Salvador- Balanced, High quality acidity, lots of clarity. Normally red-fruit driven flavour. Red apple and plum seem to be common.

Nicaragua- Good body and balance. Stone- fruit. Occasional diverse flavour potential (but not complex). Lacks clarity. Often tobacco and/or leather notes.

Costa Rica- Elegant, milk-chocolate, floral, stone-fruit, balanced. Mild acidity.

Panama- Exotic, clean, soft, floral aromas, very fruity and winey, can be complex.


Colombia- Bold( texture and intensity), sweet. Grapes, Berries. Often an enjoyable liquor-like quality. Medium acidity.

Peru-Tree nuts, savoury, plum, some other mellow fruit flavours, good body potential. Medium acidity.

Brazil- Creamy, chocolaty, nutty, very mellow fruit notes( melon etc.) . Good body. Mellow acidity.

Bolivia- Tasty, dessert-like coffees, Often malty, cocoa, tree-nut and subtle fruit flavours. Normally fairly high quality orange/peach- like acidity.


Rwanda-Balanced, high quality acidity- often medium, diverse flavour. Clean and sweet aftertaste.

Kenya- Bold, bright, juicy, winey, blackcurrant, hibiscus, grapefruit. Distinct character, Excellent acidity quality. High acidity.

Ethiopia-Highly distinct flavour, exotic, lemon/ bergamot, tea-like, rose, jasmine, turkish- delight, round, sweet.

Tanzania-Bright and fruity. Good body. Good balance.

Uganda- Kenyan and Rwandan like- although much lower acidity. Good fruit notes, good balance.


India-Spices like clove and white pepper, sometimes herbal, good body, nose. Less sweet taste character than other countries, pairs well with milk.

Indonesia -Intense, sometimes wild, spices, herbs, earthy, pepper. Varying mellow fruit notes of dates, prunes and plums. Often curry-like. Some mushrooms. And sometimes blueberry. Big body. Low acidity.

Papua New Guinea- Sweet, red fruit, some tropical. Very slight leather seems to be common. Medium quality acidity.

So that’s it……for now.

Enjoy the brews.

Until next time.

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