Coffee in Belize can be a real dice roll. There is a couple of reasons why coffee can be great or awful here on our little island and those reasons are elevation and politics.
Let's start with the easy one to understand, elevation:
The elevation that a coffee bean is grown at really affects how the brew will taste. A simple overview is as follows:
- below 2,500 feet will be soft, mild, simple, and bland
- around 3,000 feet will be sweet and smooth
- around 4,000 feet may have citrus, vanilla, chocolate, or nutty notes
- above 5,000 feet might be spicy, floral, or fruity
At the end of the day if you can grow coffee above 4,000 feet it will taste more complex and rich than coffee made below that level. I know what you're thinking now; Why?
Well it turns out coffee like wine and humans is affected by the old saying "whatever doesn't kill us will make us stronger", or in this case better.
When coffee beans are grown at elevation the cooler temperature slows down the maturation of the berry and this "stress" helps the coffee develop some amazing taste.
With all this said you must remember that the highest point in Belize is Doyle's Delight which is only 3,668 feet tall. As you see in the picture the mountain is very sparse and not many coffee beans are grown there.
So the effect of Belize coffee is many people feel it is weak and bland. We tend to agree. Arguably the best place in the immediate area to get coffee grown at elevation is Guatemala. This leads into our next issue with coffee in Belize.
In a nutshell Guatemala has considered Belize part of their country since the 1700's and lets just say Belize does not agree. This conflict has meant trade between the countries is not as smooth as it could be.
So...... Coffee from Guatemala is hard to find in Belize and even harder to find here on Caye Caulker.
Now to the important section of our little tour, where to find great coffee on Caye Caulker!
First is my house. We order coffee from Guatemala and have it flown in by the case. I know this sounds nuts but it isn't as bad in price as you might think. Coffee this way costs less than $12 per pound and flying a case in costs us about $10 total.
So, if you're coming to our island consider Ice and Beans or stopping by our place and enjoying a cup of coffee on our roof.