Check and mark your calendar for your favorite coffee season. “To everything, (brew, brew, brew) there is a season – that goes for coffee as much as it does tomatoes, squash, and garlic: A time to reap, and a time to sow.” This comes from Erin Meister, writer of many coffee articles, and appeared in Serious Eats this week. Meister presents a handy guide to the timing of different coffee harvests.
From coffee blossom to roasting takes about a year, but seasons vary by region. The beans are best when they are freshest, when the ship pulls in. The coffee bean’s luster is the first thing to go, followed by their flavor radiance. If the beans sit for too long, they can take on an unpleasant woody or grassy flavor. One general guideline is that the northernmost regions, such as Central America, are in season from mid-spring to early autumn.
Not surprisingly, South American and other southern coffees are in season during the opposite months, from mid-autumn to early spring. Equatorial coffees – Kenyan, Colombian, Sumatran, etc) enjoy multiple harvests year-round. This means coffees are being harvested throughout the year, so fresh ones should be available any time. It just means the origins will change, so we get to try different nuances all of the time. At this wintry cold season for the US, the coffees that are freshest (if beans are fresh off the boat and haven’t been stored in warehouses for months) are from Papua New Guinea, Bolivia and Peru. Other South American regions will also pop with freshness. Coffee-lovers should also be able to find the freshest equatorial coffees in winter as in summer.