What is MASL and why does it Matter?
When we see MASL on packages of coffee it’s referring to the altitude in which the particular coffee was grown at. Some people think that coffee grown at higher altitudes is better, which isn’t necessarily true.
Higher Altitudes means cooler temperatures…Cooler temperatures are imperative in growing quality beans. At cooler temps the beans grow at a slower pace, taking their time as the cherry ripens. The extra development time allows time for more complex flavours to marinate within the coffee plant. We see this with a lot of Ethiopian, Guatemalan, and Colombian coffee. These coffees are known to bring out big notes of berries, floral and stone fruit.
As we descend in altitude we start to see less complex flavours. For altitudes less than 1200 MASL you’ll find nutty, chocolate and citrus notes. Any coffee grown lower may yield earthy and mild notes. (Think Samatra) Totally not a bad thing! Many dark roast coffee lovers will gravitate towards these coffees and they still fall under the umbrella of specialty coffee.
Taking into account that coffees grown at higher altitudes come at a higher price due to the labor costs. The slower a crop grows the more it costs to look after it. This also causes a later harvest and lower yield than with flatter terrain. These crops also tend to be quite mountainous, proving difficult to transport from producer to market. So taking into account all of the above you are going to pay more for these coffees. But definitely worth it as they are so delicious.