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Do All Vanilla Beans Taste the Same?

Wine, chili, coffee, and dozens of other things have specific flavor profiles based on where it was cultivated and how it was made. But did you know the vanilla bean tastes different depending on which region they were grown in?

Vanilla beans all taste differently based on their country of origin. Some vanilla beans taste like figs, some have a fruity note and taste like cherries, while others taste like licorice. All of them, however, have a primary vanilla-base flavor. 

Is There Really a Significant Different Between Each Vanilla Bean?

Vanilla beans are often found within the bean belt, which is roughly around 25 degrees north and south of the equator. The climate in this area is the most ideal for growing cacao beans, coffee beans, and, yes, the vanilla bean too. Just like coffee and chocolate, the vanilla bean absorbs the taste of the soil and acquires the flavor of their environment wherever they are grown. Quite similar to how a coffee aficionado will tell you that Columbian coffee is not the same as Costa Rican coffee, a vanilla bean’s flavor will also vary. A Tahitian vanilla bean is very different from Madagascar vanilla bean. To answer the question, yes, each vanilla bean has a significant difference depending on its flavor profile. (Source: Vanilla Pura Gourmet Vanilla)

What is the Difference?

In general, there are three types of vanilla bean species; Planifolia, Pompona, and Tahitensis. The Planifolia is the most common vanilla that is often harvested from Central America. Whereas the Pompona is not cultivated as much. The Tahitensis, however, is gaining popularity worldwide.

The DNA of each species of vanilla contributes to its unique aroma and flavor. However, their distinct flavors are dictated by the climate and soil from where the beans were grown. The post-processing techniques also play a vital role in determining the quality and taste of the vanilla bean. (Source: Vanilla Pura Gourmet Vanilla)

Different Types of Vanilla and Their Distinctive Tastes

Based on geography and cultivation methods, here are some vanilla bean species and a summary of their taste characteristics.

Ecuadorian (Tahitensis Family)

The Ecuadorian vanilla bean is one of the most exquisite beans with a rather unique flavor profile. It possesses a bold vanilla essence with a fruity note. The plum, apricot, and cherry hints contribute to its distinctive flavor. Upon extraction, a flowery vanilla aroma will surface, but the subtleties of the fruity notes will present fully.

Hawaiian (Planifolia Family)

These vanilla beans are commonly found on the northern shores of Hawaii. While they present with a strong vanilla base, the aroma of the beans possesses a tropical fruit tone. There is a hint of mango, papaya, guava, and amazingly has a cocoa undertone that completes everything.

Sri Lanka (Planifolia Family)

While this little island in the South of Asia is home to the best teas, their rich floral soil also produces some of the most elegant vanilla beans. The bold vanilla taste is softened by a hint of date and rich chocolate. It possesses an earthy vanilla aroma complemented with a subtle fruity undertone. (Source: Vanilla Pura Gourmet Vanilla)

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