Three Waves of Coffee: The History of Coffee Processing and Making. Part 3
Why is Belgium Regarded as a Coffee Hub?
Belgium's role as a hub for coffee imports dates back to the colonial era, when the country played a significant role in the coffee trade in its colonies in Central Africa. Due to its geographical location and specific legislation, Belgium has concentrated the main destinations for coffee imports on its territory. Today, Belgium remains a major player in the global coffee trade, importing coffee beans from a wide range of countries, including Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia, and Vietnam.
Belgium's coffee industry has a long history of investment in research and development. In fact, Belgium was one of the first countries to develop the concept of "cupping," a standardized system for evaluating the quality of coffee beans through taste and aroma. Today, cupping is widely used throughout the coffee industry and is an important tool for assessing the quality of coffee beans. Cupping labs are set up in countries such as Congo, Colombia, Rwanda, and Indonesia, using professional tasting techniques and engaging the best taste testers who have undergone dedicated training.
Strict adherence to regulations guarantees a top-quality, certified product that complies with all national and international standards. The products come directly from the producers and are distributed further to the European Union countries. The Belgian coffee market is developed due to its efficient logistics, strict quality assurance, and direct deliveries. This approach ensures a transparent chain that can be traced from the plantation to roasters and producers. This meets the needs of today's coffee consumers who are interested in the origin of the beans. Thanks to improved traceability, the coffee buyer can even contact the specific farmer that sold the beans.
Today, many of the countries where coffee beans are grown and harvested are direct suppliers to Belgian ports. Then the products are distributed to the domestic market, as well as re-exported to other European countries. There are several criteria for classifying beans by quality, such as region and elevation, variety, method of processing, calibration and color, the presence of flaws in beans, appearance after roasting, and taste and flavor properties in the cup. A cupping profile is required for specialty coffee. It shows whether the beans have been subjected to tasting by professionals. This information is not mandatory but it is often provided to add value to the product.
Belgium has many other requirements for labeling, packaging, and other standards. They guarantee that coffee from Belgian ports has a special value and quality assurance. Additionally, many Belgian coffee companies work closely with coffee growers in developing countries, providing support and training to help them improve the quality of their beans and the sustainability of their farming practices. This commitment to sustainability and social responsibility is another reason why Belgium is regarded as a leader in the global coffee industry.
Differences in Coffee from Different Countries
Why are coffee gourmets interested in the country where the fruit is grown? It's very simple. The flavor qualities depend a lot on the climate, the soil, and the processing of the berries. Coffee trees are quite sensitive to the climate, so they cannot be grown all over the planet. A number of conditions are necessary for the trees to grow and produce crops, including the altitude at which they are grown. Coffee grown at high altitudes tends to be more acidic and flavorful compared to coffee grown at lower altitudes.
In addition, the harvesting and processing methods used can greatly impact the flavor of the coffee. For example, "washed" coffees tend to have a cleaner taste with more acidity, while "natural" coffees have a more fruity and earthy flavor. "Honey" processed coffees fall somewhere in between, with a sweetness and body that can vary depending on the level of processing.
Contemporary gourmets clearly distinguish not only the varieties but also the region of cultivation. Therefore, it is extremely important to know the country where the beans come from. Let's take a look at a few countries to see the differences in coffee flavor:
- Brazil is the supplier of a third of all Arabica imports. The product has a pronounced acidity, which is softened by nutty-chocolate notes;
- Colombia is a coffee variety from plantations of this country that has even more pronounced lemon acidity, however, when roasted dark, the beverage does not get thicker and retains its mildness;
- Ethiopia is a coffee with a tea aroma, berry, and jasmine flavor. Fairly pronounced acidity complements the composition;
- Congo - several Arabica varieties differ from each other by saturation and flavor. All of them have common fruity notes of a touch of peculiar fruits;
- India - the market is focused on Arabica, which is mixed to produce new varieties. For example, there is a variety that resembles fried onions but the main options are endowed with nutty notes.
The choice of coffee is individual and specific to each particular consumer. We, BOSECO, offer a special medium roasted beverage, which will please the connoisseurs of mildness, tenderness, and elegant richness. The beans harvested in special plantations are carefully and gently processed by our experts to delight true gourmets with the purest pleasure.
BOSECO Coffee Pods is a true craftsmanship that combines innovative technology with the tradition of genuine Belgian coffee. The variety of flavors and aromas offered in capsules will enable consumers to find their own preferences. Our team does not stop there. It makes continuous efforts to improve the quality of our coffee.
Illustration made with neuronet Midjourney