“Generally, coffees from Central America are washed coffees, and sun dried on raised tables or on patios, which creates a profile that is very clean with bright acidity,” says Crema’s owner Geoff Polci, who used to live in the region. A lot of coffee in this region, which includes Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Panama, are grown in the shade of pre-existing banana and citrus trees, and whether as a direct result of through biochemical coincidence, the coffee tends to have a lot of fruity notes, including banana, pineapple and citrus.
The standard Central American coffee, according to Polci, evinces “gentle citrus with a chocolatey-nutty flavour. They’re normally balanced, clean and mild.”
But each country has its own character, which is influenced here more to a greater than average extent by reasons other than soil and climate. El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua all had their coffee industries disrupted by political troubles, and Honduras had a series of natural disasters that decimated its ability to produce. The best coffee from the region is generally considered to be Guatemalan, with the Costa Rican crops taking a close second as a popular favourite. But as industry habits change, with more growers and distributors aiming at the higher end of the market, these countries of small producers are in a good position to cultivate any number of new flavour nuances.