Yesterday I stopped by the downtown Phoenix, Pour, and Rising Star and had a shot of espresso at each place. They were all quite nice and all quite different. Some of the things we'll discuss and taste on the Tour are what influences the flavor of coffees.
There are probably even more factors than this, but these are things I know influence how our delicious coffee tastes:
1. Coffee variety - specialty coffee is almost always a variety of the coffee species Arabica. There are thousands of unnamed wild coffee varieties in Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee, but there are many well known and cultivated varieties too. They're varieties of the same species, arabica. See more here: http://scaa.org/index.php?goto=&page=resources&d=a-botanists-guide-to-specialty-coffee
2. Where/how it's grown. The elevation, surrounding vegetation (shade level, companion plants, etc), and soil affect the productivity and stress of the coffee tree. See/read more about this at Tim Wendelboe's cool Farm of the Soil project in Nicaragua: https://www.instagram.com/fincaelsuelo/
3. How it's processed. The coffee beans we buy are the seed of the coffee tree, and when they grow they're surrounded by a husk. How that husk is taken off affects the final flavor. There are 2 main processes, washed and natural, and a newer one "honey" that is in between. Learn more here: https://beanbox.co/blog/difference-between-washed-vs-unwashed-coffee-processes/
4. How it's roasted. This is probably the most familiar to us American end buyers of coffee. It seems that each roaster has her own aesthetic about what coffee ought to taste like, or how she likes to influence coffee by roasting. By that I mean two different roasters might get the same green coffee beans, but one roaster thinks the coffee tastes better lighter roasted and the other likes it better a bit darker. Neither one is "right" because flavor is up to whoever's drinking it! Roast is determined by how hot beans are roasted for how long in what kind of roaster with what kind of moisture. See more: http://www.coffeecrossroads.com/coffee-101/coffee-roasts-from-light-to-dark