Shakajava Senior Member Joined: 10 Feb 2004 Posts: 1 Location: Windsor, Ontario, Can Expertise: I live coffee
Posted Wed Mar 10, 2010, 7:25pm Subject: High Altitude effect on coffee bean growth
Everyone on the web explains that the sought after arabica beans, that we need to make quality coffee, grow at high altitudes resulting in a denser harder bean but I don't get it. Higher altitudes means there's less atmospheric pressure exerting force on the growing coffee bean and at 7000 feet there is 75% less air pressure (1/25th atm) so in theory, the bean would grow bigger with less density right? Except, in the case of coffee beans the opposite seems true? Am I just having a brain fart here or is there a simple explanation for this?
Posted Wed Mar 10, 2010, 8:23pm Subject: Re: High Altitude effect on coffee bean growth
Certainly not a botanist but I don't think the atmospheric pressure amounts to much of an influence whatsoever. I believe higher altitude results in slower growth, which in turn results in higher bean density. Same principle when it is shade grown; slows it down and makes it denser.
Doing a Google search I found "the average air pressure drops from 1,013 mb at sea level to about 700 mb at an altitude of 10,000 ft and to about 300 mb at 30,000 ft (Mt Everest)." So the air pressure at 7000ft is about 760mb, so about 25% less air pressure.
khuzdul Senior Member Joined: 24 Mar 2009 Posts: 86 Location: U.S. North East
Posted Fri Mar 19, 2010, 6:54am Subject: Re: High Altitude effect on coffee bean growth
The altitude does not affect bean growth from change in atmospheric pressure - the change comes from the overall change in the environment as you go higher in altitudes reflecting harsher general growing conditions relative to the environment of the same growing region at a lower altitude. From changes to rainfall, temperature differentials from day to night, what pests survive and thrive at any given altitude, differences of soil composition and soil chemistry, etc.
There are other ways to retard growth at lower altitudes in the quest to produce a better bean. One very old traditional version of this is creating "harsher environmental conditions" based on the percentage of shade trees under. Others are experimenting with the aggressiveness with which they prune or experimenting with removing flowering buds. However, you can only stress the coffee plant and retard growth so much before the trees die (otherwise the commercial growing range of coffee would be much larger) and all methods that retard growth will reduce productivity of the tree, so there is a very significant economic dimension to each producer deciding on their crop quality/yield ratio. Even with the best efforts, sometimes you just can't make a silk purse out of a sows ear.
kamelonu Senior Member Joined: 7 Dec 2013 Posts: 1 Location: NYC Expertise: I live coffee
Posted Sat Dec 7, 2013, 11:33am Subject: Re: High Altitude effect on coffee bean growth
I know this is a really late reply but I was curious on the question and this forum popped up so I did more research and found this http://www.scribblerscoffee.com/flavor_effect_of_altitude It basically says the high mountain altitude cooler weather cause the coffee bean to grow slowly which causes a more dense bean. That link also shows a cool scale on how a bean will taste due to altitude I am definitely a 4k and above coffee drinker, my wife on the other hand is 3.5k and below. For example kona coffee a more mild and subtle coffee is low altitude Ethiopian and Guatemalan coffee is 5K and up and sumatra is 4-5k.
CoffeeLoversMag Senior Member Joined: 10 Jan 2013 Posts: 218 Location: Seattle Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Fri Dec 13, 2013, 4:58am Subject: Re: High Altitude effect on coffee bean growth
Coffee in higher altitude is denser because the growth is slower which made the beans finer. Other environmental factors of higher altitude are the weather, amount of light, less oxygen that made the beans harder. And harder beans are high quality beans.
Did you know...? Dark roast coffees actually have less caffeine than lighter roasts due to the fact that the process of roasting burns off caffeine. www.coffeeloversmag.com/theMagazine
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