The country and region a coffee originates from is often the most defining characteristic by which a roasted specialty coffee is labeled. Specialty coffees that are not a blend (called single origin) often distinguish themselves by the country they are from and a regional or trade name to specify where in that country the coffee was grown. Most of the time a roaster will put a few flavor descriptors about the coffee profile.
Side Note: If your coffee is solely described as being “Pure Arabica beans,” you can usually translate this to mean “At least we didn’t use robusta.” It may be time to switch it up.
Defining a coffee by an origin country is helpful because you can get a basic sense of what to expect. While there are definitely broad distinctions that can be made by coffee growing regions, there is so much variation and other variables that impact flavor (read about coffee processing). Geographic coffee flavor profiles don’t really fit into neat little boxes. A coffee taster should certainly be able to pick out the distinctive flavors of a Sumatra coffee in a field of Central American coffees, but may not be able to single out a Mexican Chiapas from a field of Guatemalan Huehuetenangos (I certainly could not).
Because altitude, varietal, processing and origin all play an important role in coffee flavor development, you will find many differences in coffees grown in the same section of the world. There can even be some dramatic flavor swings year to year at the same farms. Keeping that in mind, I don’t recommend ever writing off a particular region of the coffee world. You should should always be willing to mix it up and try new coffees. You never know when one might surprise and delight you.
Here are some coffee regions of the world and some general flavor profiles you can expect to find with in them.