What is terroir and how does it influence coffee?

Terroir is complex, but most simply, it’s the thing that makes coffee special.

Altitude, soil quality, humidity, rainfall, the temperature, and density of the crops are just a few of the elements that affect the taste of the coffee we love.

Collectively, these elements are called terroir (pronounced ‘ter-war’); a term that’s applied to all crops. However, it’s generally only the terroirs, or ‘microclimates’, of speciality crops, like wine, maple, tea, and coffee, that are studied.

An almost endless number of factors can be included in terroir. Even nearby flora and fauna have an effect on the ecosystem in which the varietals or cultivars are grown.

Terroir is a word that encapsulates all environmental factors that could influence the final product. There’s a lot to consider!

Terroir and flavour profiles

While terroir refers to crop microclimates, we can get a sense of which regions produce certain coffee characteristics due to its conditions. But these similarities are extremely broad.

Just as it would be a shame to refer to the countless varieties of wines grown across Italy as ‘Italian’ or even ‘European’, it’s difficult to simply call a coffee the product of a certain country, given all the nuances that come from its terroir.

Terroir is most simply the thing that makes coffee special. It helps define the taste profile which, if roasted with care and expertise, could elevate the amazing flavours that nature intended.

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