What’s The Deal With High Elevation Coffee?
Roasters love high elevation coffee because there's way more flavor potential, let me explain.
When coffee is grown at a higher elevation, the plant matures more slowly. So if you know about plants, you know about chlorophyll and that plants use sunlight to feed themselves, that's... How cool is that? Anyways, when the plant has direct sunlight kept off of it, the coffee cherries are given a lot more time to ripen, and in the meantime the coffee plant is fortifying its seeds with food for really, really healthy seeds.
When the seeds are fortified by the plants they end up packed full of sucrose and simple sugars and the flavor potential is leaps and bounds beyond something that was grown on a flat surface, low elevation, in the sun. As a roaster, it’s super exciting to get a new bag of coffee and immediately know, "Oh it was grown way up high."
When the green coffee goes into the roaster it doubles or triples in size but loses about 15% of its weight. The roasting process also creates over 800 compounds, just based on what was there in that green coffee to begin with. The roaster’s goal is to bring the flavor out, rather than incinerate it. A lot of times cheaper coffee that doesn't have exciting flavor will be roasted super dark because people are trying to mask some of the imperfections. You don't really want to let all the characteristics of cheaper coffee come out because they're not all good. It's kind of the same as getting a cheap cut of meat, cooking all the flavor out, and dousing it in ketchup. High elevation coffee is like a filet mignon, so don’t overcook it, and hold the ketchup!
Every type of coffee has something it does really well. High elevation coffee is something special that needs to be savored.
For an example of high elevation coffee, check out our Ethiopian Shakiso, below: