Tasting Vocabulary : Tasting Origin

If a coffee displays characteristics that both set it off from other coffees, yet identify it as what it is, it has varietal or origin distinction. In one sense, all of our three samples are distinctive, because they probably embody the best and most characteristic traits of the growing region from which they came. In another sense the Kenya and the Sumatra could be seen as more distinctive than the Costa Rica, simply because the Costa Rica embodies what for North Americans is a normative coffee taste, whereas the Kenya and Sumatra display characteristics that set them off from that norm. The rich, winy acidity of the Kenya immediately suggests that it is an East Africa coffee, probably a Kenya. The Sumatra may be less distinctive, but it also may, depending on how it was handled after picking, exhibit pungency or mustiness or earthiness, all (hopefully) combined with a softening sweetness. On the other hand, it would be difficult to distinguish the Costa Rica La Minita conclusively from other high-quality, high-grown Central America coffees except in its power and perfection.