Countries and Coffee

Countries and Coffee

Did you ever wonder where in the world they grow coffee? How about who drinks the most? Here are the top coffee producing and coffee consuming countries with links to posts that go into deeper detail about them. Don’t worry, I’ll eventually get them finished!

Top Coffee Producers by Geographical Location

Africa & Arabia

Ethiopia

Located in the horn of Africa and the birthplace of Coffea arabica, Ethiopian coffee production is the largest in Africa and the seventh largest in the world.  According to legend, coffee was discovered in the 9th-century by a goatherd named Kaldi. This story is probably apocryphal but still worth reading about.

Kenya

An African country located south of Ethiopia. There are approximately 150,000 farms in Kena and Kenyan coffees are among the world’s most consistently excellent. Kenya (at the time, British East Africa) was the setting for Karen Blixen’s memoir, Out of Africa. You know, the one that was made into the movie starring Meryl Streep.

Tanzania

This African country is located on the Indian Ocean, just south of Kenya. well known for its production of peaberry. Coffee is mainly grown on Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru and is wet processed. The coffee tends to be rich in flavor and full in body.

Yemen

The southernmost country on the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen is thought to be the origin of drinking coffee. Coffee came from Ethiopia in the early 16th century and Yemen developed the first cultivated variety of Coffea. Yemeni coffee is grown in the central mountains of the country, is usually dry-processed, and tends to be distinguished by full body and a distinctive winy acidity. One of Yemen’s main ports became extremely important to the coffee trade; maybe you’ve heard of it? It was the port of Mocha.

Asia & The Pacific

India

A large, diverse country located in southern Asia. On returning from a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1670, the Indian Muslim saint, Baba Budan smuggled seven coffee seeds in his beard. He planted them and the seeds of the coffee industry in India. Coffee is grown in the south of the country and tends toward moderate body and acidity. In addition to the usual pests that coffee growers face, Indian growers also have the singular pleasure of contending with cobras.

Indonesia

The nation with the world’s fourth-largest coffee production, Indonesia is made up of more than seventeen thousand volcanic islands located along the equator between Australia and Asia. The Dutch East India Company brought arabica seedlings from the Netherlands (grown from plants smuggled out of Yemen) to the island of Java in the late 17th century. Additionally, coffee is widely grown on Bali, Sulawesi (Celebes), and Sumatra. It is also the home of the famous kopi luwak.

Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea is a country located north of Australia, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea. It has both large, state of the art coffee estates and small-scale coffee farms. While coffee was introduced by the British in the 1890s, the planting of Jamaican Blue Mountain seeds in the late 1920s marks the true beginning of the industry. The coffees are generally complex and mildly acid.

Timor

An island in the Malay Archipelago, Timor’s coffee industry is rapidly improving since East Timor’s independence from Indonesia in 2002.

North & Central America

Costa Rica

This Central American country has a well-regarded coffee industry and a reputation for excellent coffee. They are among the most admired of Central American coffees. In fact, for many years I have been chasing the taste of a Costa Rican coffee some friends purchase while on a vacation. I almost had it on my farm in Kona.

Cuba

An island nation located in the Caribbean Sea, south of the United States. They once had a strong coffee industry but since the revolution in the 1950s production has fallen off. Currently, Cuban citizens receive a ration of 2 ounces of coffee, twice per month. Pour souls… when I visited Havana in 2017, it was pretty tasty.

El Salvador

This Central American country is bordered by Guatemala and Honduras and produces primarily arabica, mostly on small farms and co-ops. Coffee has been grown in El Salvador since the 18th century and became almost its sole export crop by 1880. The civil war in the 1980s caused upsets in the industry from which they have not fully recovered.

In the news: https://theweek.com/articles/838488/decline-el-salvadors-coffee

Hawaii

The only US state that grows coffee commercially. Most know of Kona which is grown in a specific region of the west coast of the Big Island of Hawaii but other parts of the island grow coffee as well. For instance, coffee grown in the Kau district is starting to gain notoriety. On the other Hawaiian Islands, sugar-cane and pineapple plantations have been converted to premium coffee farms. Kauai, Molokai, Maui, and Oahu all now produce coffee commercially.

Honduras

A Central American country bordered by Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua with production primarily of arabica, mostly on small farms and co-ops. The coffee industry was severely damaged by a hurricane in 1998 and has not yet fully recovered. Great soil and climate, so if the coffee I had back in 1994 is any indication, it should recover.

Jamaica

This Caribbean island nation is located south of Cuba and developed its industry after the successes in Martinique in the 1720s. It became “coffee famous” for its exceptional Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee. Its relatively short supply made it one of the world’s most celebrated and expensive coffees and also made it more subject to blending, adulteration and outright counterfeiting. Watch your wallet and know your supplier.

Mexico

The North American country located south of The United States with the world’s eighth largest coffee production. Coffee trees spread to Mexico from the Caribbean islands in the late 18th century, descendants of a single tree from France. Its main growing regions in the states of Veracruz, Oaxaca, and Chiapas located in the south-central and southern areas of the country, tend to produce a light bodied, low acid cup. It is also home to Kahlúa.

Nicaragua

This Central American country can be found north of Costa Rica and south of Honduras. Given that, it has the climate and terrain to develop outstanding coffees. Politics and natural disasters have conspired to keep the industry from flourishing. The cupping profile tends toward medium-bodied with a straightforward acidity, and flavorful.

Panama

This country is located between Costa Rica and Columbia in Central America and is the home to small family farms producing delicious coffees by traditional methods. A mature industry with good wages and worker protections yields some of the best coffees in the region.

South America

Brazil

Brazil is the easternmost South American country and is the world’s largest coffee producer. It accounts for almost 1/3 of total world production. Coffee has been grown in Brazil since the 18th century and became a major industry in the 1830s. Most of the coffee farms are located in the southeastern states of Minas Gerais, São Paulo and Paraná where the environment and climate provide ideal growing conditions.

Colombia

South American country with the world’s second largest arabica production. Tradition holds that coffee came to Colombia with Jesuit priests in the 17th century, but this cannot be verified. The coffee industry is well-organized, requiring most small farmers like Juan Valdez (HA!) to wet process their beans and submit them to the Colombia Federation of Coffee Growers, where the beans are milled, sorted, and graded. The result of this system is a high quality, consistent, and distinctive cup.

Guatemala

A country, located south of Mexico, whose unique topography creates eight distinct growing regions. Strictly Hard Bean coffees from the central highlands are generally rich, with spicy or floral acidity and excellent body. Mountainous areas exposed to either Pacific or Caribbean weather tend to display a bit less acidity and more fruit. Coffee has been grown in Guatemala since the 1850s and the country became the largest producer in Central America for most of the 20th century.

Peru

This South American country located south of Ecuador and Colombia has the world’s eleventh largest coffee production. Coffee has been grown in Peru since the 18th century and most farmers are focused on growing high quality, organic arabica from typica stock. The best of Peru’s coffees come from the high Andes in the Chanchamayo Valley as well as Norte and Cusco to the south near Machu Picchu.


Countries with the Highest Per Capita Coffee Consumption (in Kg/year)

  1. Finland           12.0
  2. Norway           9.9
  3. Iceland           9.0
  4. Denmark           8.7
  5. Netherlands           8.4
  6. Sweden           8.2
  7. Switzerland           7.9
  8. Belgium           6.8
  9. Luxembourg           6.5
  10. Canada           6.5
  11. Bosnia and Herzegovina           6.2
  12. Austria           6.1
  13. Italy           5.9
  14. Brazil           5.8
  15. Slovenia           5.8
  16. Germany           5.5
  17. Greece           5.4
  18. France           5.4
  19. Croatia           5.1
  20. Cyprus           4.9
  21. Lebanon           4.8
  22. Estonia           4.5
  23. Spain           4.5
  24. Portugal           4.3
  25. United States           4.2

Countries with the Highest Domestic Coffee Consumption
(in 1000s of 60 Kg Bags per year)

  1. European Union           45,070 (I will dig into this and split out the individual countries)
  2. United States           25,840
  3. Brazil           22,195
  4. Japan           8,025
  5. Philippines           5,950
  6. Canada           4,875
  7. Russia           
4,750
  8. China           4,115
  9. Indonesia           3,290
  10. Ethiopia           3,240
  11. Vietnam           2,880

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