Growing and Harvesting : Altitude

Whereas arabica trees planted at low altitudes in the tropics overbear, weaken, and fall prey to disease, trees grown at higher altitudes, 3,000 to 6,000 feet, usually produce coffee with a "hard bean." The colder climate encourages a slower-maturing fruit, which in turn produces a smaller, denser, less porous bean with less moisture and more flavor.

Beware, however, of easy distinctions. Some of the world’s most celebrated coffees are softer bean, including Hawaii Kona, Sumatra Lintong, and Jamaica Blue Mountain.