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What is SHG Coffee?

You might be asking what the term SHG (or SHB) stand for. Well, the terms are used interchangeably usually depending on which country the coffee beans come from.

SHG means "Strictly High Grown".

SHB means "Strictly Hard Bean".

In both cases, what it essentially boils down to is the altitude at which the coffee is grown.

SHG means High Altitude Coffee

When you see these terms, it means that the coffee was grown at high altitude, usually over 1,200 metres above sea level. Higher altitudes mean cooler air, especially at night, and more rainfall.

Much like baby bear, the coffee tree doesn't like temperatures that are too hot or too cold. That's why most coffee is grown in the region between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer, where temperatures remain more stable throughout the year.

At higher altitude the coffee is grown in cooler air and therefore takes longer to mature, flower and produce its berries. This longer maturation period allows more time for the bean to develop and enhance its flavour. The bean (seed of the fruit) absorbs more of the fruitiness of the surrounding pulp. It also gets harder, hence the occasional use of the second term, SHB, representing the hardness of the bean.

The harder, more dense, beans can usually be roasted darker without destroying the nuances in flavour. You'll see a range of roast levels from these beans from light to quite dark.

The Drawbacks

There are of course downsides to these high-grown coffee beans, particularly for the coffee farmer. You see, in order to get your coffee trees growing higher you need to plant them on mountain sides.

This means the coffee is less accessible and harvesting is much harder and time consuming because only manual picking methods can be used. It's therefore more expensive to collect those beans for processing.

It also means that the slower time for the fruit to mature means a later harvest and limits the farm to only one harvest per year. At lower elevations, the fruit is ripened more quickly resulting in a harvest earlier in the season. This leaves more time for the possibility of a fly crop to maximise the earning potential of the farm.

SHG is a Grade of Coffee

Many Central American countries use the altitude at which the coffee is grown as a grading method. The higher the altitude, the better the quality and, because the seed or bean has been in its pulp for longer, a fruitier flavour.

The other grades of coffee bean used widely in addition to SHG are:

High Grown

Coffee beans are cultivated between 900 and 1,200 metres above sea level resulting in a mild flavour with some fruity overtones.

Central Standard

Coffee beans grown up to 900 metres above sea level and tend to be very mild, with little fruitiness.

So there you go. Higher altitude generally means higher quality but at the expense of greater cost. As always, you get what you pay for. 

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Customer Reviews

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Works perfect with a good cause

I like that I can buy this pack of filters when I order my coffee, streamlining my purchases and giving more money back to such a fabulous independent roaster. It’s also great that these specific filters are a collaboration supporting a great cause.

I would be interested in future to see unbleached filter options, but until then am perfectly satisfied with these.

one of my favourites so far, smooth and tasty

My new favourite

I've tried most of the medium roasts from Pebble and Pine over last few years. My favourite used to be Santa Elena (Honduras), but after that was discontinued I found this to be equally beautiful coffee for my morning shot.

J
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Jonathan Broadhurst
Always a great cup of coffee

I have been a subscriber for well over a year now and have never been disappointed by the coffee or the service. I love that you can change the coffee and try new flavours. After lots of different blends, we’ve found one that we all like. Highly recommended

Great taste and no bitterness

Perfect. I make our coffee in a stove top which works really well and produces the best flavours. Have also tried this in a cafetiere but not quite as good. We just love the Pebble and Pine coffees. They never fail to please.