High Altitude Coffee – What does it mean?

Coffee Extraction Techniques
Altitude and flavour graph

Coffee is what gives life and purpose to our business. We only source specialty grade Arabica beans grown at high altitude, mostly over 1200 masl. We sometimes make exceptions depending on the origin and the purpose or role it could play in our blends.

Sipping Duck specializes in high-altitude coffee. At high altitudes, coffee develops complex, delicate, deep, and intricate flavors. When coffee is grown at high elevations (1200 masl+), the rich (often volcanic), well-draining soils and the cooler tropical temperatures help the plant grow under less stressful conditions, and the cherries develop slower, resulting in more flavor concentration, lower yields, and a harder bean. The harder the bean, the better it responds to different roasting techniques, allowing the roaster to produce different outcomes, notes, aromas, acidity, and flavors.

Low altitude coffee grows faster and has lower density, making it softer and less versatile for roasting. Low altitude coffees often lack body and can taste bland in comparison. The higher the altitude, the richer and fruitier the coffee (generally speaking). The lowest altitude we source at Sipping Duck, is from Brazil (900 masl+). The reason why we use Brazil is for the sweet, nutty, and often chocolaty notes. It’s also comfortable for a lot of people and blends really well with the rest of our beans.

Coffee grows in the equatorial regions of all continents, and there are two main varieties: Arabica and Robusta. Robusta grows at low altitudes – as low as sea level – it is very resistant to disease and yields significantly more than Arabica varieties. Most instant coffees are made with Robusta beans, and some companies use these lower quality coffees to bulk up their blends. Our Instant coffee is made using fair-trade Arabica beans from Colombia. Arabica varieties perform better at higher altitudes, yield less per plant, and are more susceptible to disease and pests, but the quality is far better.

African coffees are the highest altitudes we source, ranging around 1800-2100 masl. These beans are floral, fruity, often high in acidity, and have very distinctive flavors. These coffees add depth and uniqueness to the blends; they are used in small percentages (except Flight mode that has 50% Kenya).

Guatemalan and other Central American coffees that we source grow at around 1500 masl. These coffees are sweet, full-bodied, with stone or tropical fruit notes, and beautiful balance. Our Seasonal blend is 50% Honduras and all of our blends have central american coffee beans.

PNG beans grow at 1800-2200 masl and deliver sweet, sugar cane, biscuit-like flavors. House Blend, Organic, Face Kicker, Frank’s Blend have PNG beans. You’ll find it at a 50% in Flight Mode.

The Sumatran coffees that we choose are slightly savory, with dried fruit and chocolate notes, and the flavor varies greatly depending on how it’s roasted and brewed. They are very interesting and different coffees. You can find it in Frank’s Blend, Seasonal Blend and sometimes as a single origin.

We hope you enjoyed this blog post and that you now have a better understanding of the coffee that you love.


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