What Does Altura Mean in Coffee Terms?

Altura is a term commonly used in the world of coffee, and it holds significance for both baristas and coffee enthusiasts alike. But what exactly does it mean? Let’s explore the meaning and implications of Altura in coffee terms.

1. Altura Definition

In coffee terms, Altura refers to high-grown coffee beans cultivated at higher altitudes, typically above 4,000 feet (1,200 meters) above sea level. These elevated growing conditions have a profound impact on the flavor profile and characteristics of the coffee beans.

Altura coffee beans are known for their distinct qualities, often exhibiting a vibrant acidity, complex flavors, and exceptional aroma. The unique combination of altitude, climate, soil composition, and other environmental factors contribute to the coveted attributes found in Altura coffee.

2. The Impact of Altitude on Coffee

The altitude at which coffee is grown plays a significant role in determining its taste, characteristics, and quality. Here’s how altitude affects coffee beans:

  • Slow Maturation: Altitude slows down the growth and maturation process of coffee cherries, resulting in denser and more refined flavors.
  • Increased Acidity: High altitudes often lead to a higher level of acidity in the coffee, contributing to its brightness and tanginess.
  • Enhanced Complexity: The stress that coffee plants experience at higher altitudes prompts them to develop more complex chemical compositions, adding layers of flavor complexity.
  • Flavor Concentration: Altura coffee tends to have a concentrated flavor profile, with notes of fruit, floral, and sometimes even wine-like characteristics.
  • Slower Ripening: Coffee cherries take longer to ripen at higher altitudes, allowing more time for sugars to develop, resulting in a sweeter and more nuanced cup of coffee.

3. Certifications and Regions

Altura coffee is closely associated with certain coffee-growing regions known for their high-altitude plantations. Some countries renowned for producing exceptional Altura coffee beans include:

CountryNotable Regions
ColombiaAntioquia, Huila, Nariño
Costa RicaTarrazu, Tres Rios, Dota
EthiopiaSidamo, Yirgacheffe, Limu
GuatemalaAntigua, Huehuetenango, Cobán
KenyaNyeri, Kirinyaga, Embu

Certification bodies, such as the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), also recognize Altura coffee through their grading systems. The SCA, for example, designates coffees with a minimum altitude of 3,937 feet (1,200 meters) as “Strictly High Grown” (SHG) or “Strictly Hard Bean” (SHB).

4. Why Altura Matters

The term Altura holds importance for coffee lovers for various reasons. Here are a few key reasons why Altura coffee is sought after:

  • Superior Quality: Altura coffee often exhibits a superior quality and unique flavor characteristics, making it highly desirable among coffee enthusiasts.
  • Regional Identity: Altura coffee is closely linked to specific coffee-growing regions, showcasing the distinct terroir and bringing forth a sense of regional identity.
  • Artisanal Production: Many Altura coffees are produced by small-scale farmers using traditional and sustainable farming methods, supporting local communities and ensuring the preservation of traditional practices.
  • Enhanced Coffee Experience: The complex flavors and vibrant acidity found in Altura coffee offer a memorable and elevated coffee-drinking experience.

5. Conclusion

Altura is more than just a term; it represents a world of exquisite coffee cultivated at remarkable altitudes. The unique growing conditions found at higher elevations result in coffee beans that possess extraordinary flavors, captivating aroma, and an overall exceptional coffee experience. Next time you indulge in a cup of Altura coffee, savor the intricate flavors that make it so special.