What is SHG Coffee? Unveiling the High-Altitude Delight

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As a coffee enthusiast, you may have come across the term SHG coffee, which stands for Strictly High Grown Coffee. This unique and sought-after type of coffee refers to coffee beans that are grown at high altitudes, usually over 1,200 meters (4,000 feet) above sea level. The high altitude plays a crucial role in the development of the coffee beans, impacting their flavor and quality.

When coffee is grown at such high elevations, the beans develop more slowly, allowing for a higher concentration of nutrients to be delivered to them. This results in more complex and desirable flavor profiles for coffee connoisseurs. SHG coffee is often considered a premium coffee due to its rich taste and the fact that it can only be found in specific growing regions that meet the altitude requirements.

What is SHG Coffee?

What is SHG Coffee

SHG Coffee, or Strictly High Grown Coffee, is a term used to classify coffee beans that are grown at high altitudes, typically above 1,200 meters (4,000 feet) above sea level. This classification is important because the altitude at which coffee is grown can significantly impact its flavor and quality.

When you encounter coffee labeled as SHG, or sometimes Strictly Hard Bean (SHB), it indicates that the beans have been grown at higher elevations, which contributes to their slow development. This slow growth allows for more nutrients to be delivered to the beans, resulting in a higher nutrient concentration and a denser, harder bean.

In Central American countries such as Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Costa Rica, the SHG classification is used as the highest grade in their coffee grading systems. Coffee beans grown at higher elevations are often considered to be of superior quality, as the altitude creates the ideal environmental conditions for the beans to develop complex, nuanced flavors and retain their natural acidity.

When selecting a coffee, looking for the SHG or SHB label can be a valuable indicator of the taste and quality you can expect from the beans, as well as the potential sustainability and positive environmental impact of the coffee-growing practices used in creating the product.

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Growing Conditions and Altitude

Understanding the growing conditions and altitude of SHG coffee is crucial for appreciating its unique qualities.

High Altitude

SHG (Strictly High Grown) coffee is defined as coffee trees grown at an altitude of between 1,200 – 1,370 meters above sea level. Growing at these higher altitudes exposes the coffee trees to cooler temperatures and increased rainfall. As a result, the coffee cherries mature more slowly, leading to the development of richer flavors, and a more complex acidity and body.

Temperature and Climate

The ideal temperature range for SHG coffee trees is between 18°C and 24°C. This range ensures a steady, slow growth of the coffee cherries, allowing the beans to absorb valuable nutrients from the soil. Temperature variations can impact the yield and quality of the coffee beans.

In addition to temperature, climate conditions play a significant role in shaping the characteristics of SHG coffee. Coffee trees require an adequate balance of rainfall and sunshine with a well-defined dry season. This ensures proper development and drying of coffee cherries, ultimately contributing to a better overall cup quality.

As you explore SHG coffee, it’s essential to consider these factors that influence the unique qualities of the beans. High altitude, temperature, and climate all contribute to the flavor profile and characteristics of this highly sought-after coffee.

Flavor Profile and Quality

As you explore the world of Strictly High Grown (SHG) Coffee, it’s important to understand its flavor profile and quality aspects. SHG coffee beans are grown at elevations of more than 1,200 meters (4,000 ft) above sea level, which contributes to their distinct characteristics in terms of acidity, body, and complexity.


One of the key aspects of SHG coffee’s flavor profile is its noticeable acidity. The high altitude at which these beans are grown allows them to develop a bright and crisp acidity. This type of acidity is often described as a lively, fruity, or citrusy sensation on the palate. The higher altitude also contributes to a longer maturation process, giving the beans a fruitier flavor.


The body of SHG coffee is typically medium to full, with a rich and satisfying mouthfeel. This is because the slow maturation process at higher altitudes results in higher nutrient concentrations in the coffee beans, which translates to a more substantial and well-rounded body in the brewed coffee.


SHG coffee also boasts a higher level of complexity in its flavor profile. As a result of the ideal growing conditions at higher elevations, these beans often develop unique and nuanced flavors, such as citrus, vanilla, nutty, or chocolate notes, as seen in High Grown coffees from Kenya, Sulawesi, Sumatra, Ethiopia, and Tanzania. The combination of crisp acidity, full body, and diverse flavors creates a coffee that is both enjoyable and intriguing to taste.

As you experience different SHG coffees, remember that the altitude, growing conditions, and processing methods all contribute to the distinct acidity, body, and complexity of the final brew. By appreciating these nuances, you’ll be able to fully savor the unique flavors of Strictly High Grown coffee.

Regions Producing SHG Coffee

When it comes to SHG coffee, certain regions around the world are known for their high-altitude coffee production. These regions provide a unique combination of high elevation, optimal climate conditions, and rich soil that cultivates the finest SHG coffee beans.

Famous regions in Africa for producing SHG coffee include Kenya, Ethiopia, and Tanzania. These countries offer ideal altitudes for coffee production, with many growing areas meeting or even exceeding SHG standards.

South America is another key region for SHG coffee, particularly from countries like Brazil and Colombia. In Brazil, areas such as Sao Paulo are known for their favorable coffee-growing conditions, while Colombia has gained widespread recognition and appreciation for its coffee quality. The South America coffee region also consists of countries such as Bolivia and Ecuador, both contributing to the high-altitude coffee production.

In Central America, Guatemala, and Costa Rica are particularly esteemed for their SHG coffee beans. Honduras is another country worth noting, as it is home to six distinct coffee-growing regions that produce sought-after SHG coffees, each offering unique flavors ranging from chocolate to fruity notes.

As you explore the world of SHG coffee, you’ll find that each region contributes something distinct and extraordinary, which is why it’s worth experiencing the various beans originating from these high-altitude locations.


In conclusion, Strictly High Grown (SHG) Coffee is grown at high altitudes, resulting in a slow growth process that leads to a more complex flavor profile and higher nutrient concentration. While altitude is significant, other factors like soil quality and processing methods also impact coffee quality. Knowing about SHG coffee can lead to discovering new blends and origins. So, keep this in mind when choosing coffee beans next time.

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