Sometimes in the world of coffee you may come across a term where you will hesitate over the meaning. Let's explain some of them.
SHG stands for "Strictly High Grown"
SHB stands for "Strictly Hard Bean"
When you see these terms, it means that the coffee was grown at a high altitude, usually above 1200 meters above sea level. Higher altitudes mean cooler air for coffee trees, especially at night, and more rainfall.
Coffee does not like too hot or too cold temperatures. Therefore, most coffee is grown in the area between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer, where temperatures remain more stable throughout the year than in other parts of the world. At higher altitudes, coffee is grown in colder air and therefore takes longer to ripen, bloom and form berries. This longer ripening time gives the beans more time to develop and enhance their taste. The coffee bean thus absorbs more fruitiness of the surrounding pulp. It is also heavier, so the second term, SHB, is sometimes used to describe grain hardness. Harder and thicker grains can usually be roasted darker without destroying the nuances in the taste. A number of roasting levels can be seen for these grains, from light to dark.
The higher the altitude, the more work usually requires moving the equipment to heights and transporting the harvested coffee down to the ports for transportation. This results in higher costs for farmers, but is not necessarily reflected in the market price - higher SHG coffee prices are usually due to better quality from growing at higher altitudes. This is also the case in the slower cultivation process, where fewer crops per year lead to less overall coffee production, which should theoretically increase the price of coffee, but higher prices are in fact a reflection of higher quality.
EP (European Preparation)
EP is a term that means that green coffee has been hand-picked and stripped of defective beans. In this case, the maximum number of defective grains allowed for a certain weight is set, but these values may vary. The best coffees are taken twice, sometimes three times.
You may also have come across the acronym PB, which means "Peaberry". This shows that only one grain was born in the coffee cherry. Usually two grains are grown. This one grain is therefore rounder and resembles a pearl in this rounded shape. You could say that Peaberry coffee is basically a defect. However, you may find that some processing plants sort these small grains and then sell them at a premium price.
This abbreviation is used to indicate the quality of a given coffee. In this case, the lower the number, the fewer defects the coffee contains and is therefore better and more expensive. We have a total of 5 of these classes and, of course, coffees, which belong to group 1, have the fewest defects and have the highest number of points in the scoring according to the SCA standards. Of course, these coffees also fall into the higher price category.
In the following articles, we will introduce other selected terms.