The cultivation altitude is usually indicated on the coffee bag. It is probably one of the most important values, because it says a lot about the quality of the coffee.
What does it mean exactly?
The cultivation altitude is an indicator of the quality. At higher altitudes, coffee plants are exposed to a different climate. The usually lower temperatures between 15-25°C ensure slower growth or arrest the ripening process of the coffee cherry. Since the ripening process is related to the development of sugars, the slower ripening leads to a more complex flavour profile and higher acidity.
If you see 1,200 meters above sea level (masl) on a bag, that's a solid value, though far from really high. The highest altitudes at which coffees are grown that we have on the shelf are about 2,100 meters. By comparison, Mount Everest is 8,800 meters high, so there's definitely more headroom there. The picture above shows Mount Kenya, which is just under 5,200 meters high. Here, in the lower foothills at about 2,000 meters, outstanding coffees are grown. So you could say: the higher the better.