Coffee For Dummies
Book image
Explore Book Buy On Amazon
Growing coffee requires Mother Nature’s cooperation. Geography shapes the perceived quality and taste of a given coffee. These conditions have a big impact on any coffee crop:
  • Temperature
  • Rainfall
  • Soil conditions
  • Sun, shade, and wind

Coffee grown in the Western Hemisphere

In the Americas, coffee has been grown successfully in several countries.

Central America

Some of these smaller countries feature a few of the most noteworthy coffees and coffee success stories of the last century:
  • Costa Rica: Known as the Switzerland of Central America, Costa Rica offers a perfect environment for growing coffee. Peace and neutrality have allowed for the growth of an enviable coffee infrastructure.
Coffee plants in Costa Rica Photo by Major Cohen
Costa Rica has great coffee farms.
  • El Salvador: The country and the coffee industry in El Salvador have benefited and suffered together over the past 25 years. A solid but still not fully realized coffee opportunity exists there.
  • Guatemala: This country is the source of some of the most exquisite and treasured coffees in the world.
  • Honduras: This country has a burgeoning coffee industry and an increasing premium crop production.
  • Mexico: One of the world’s top 10 coffee producers, Mexico features diverse, mountainous terrain and an equally diverse range of potential flavor profiles.
  • Nicaragua: Although coffee is a principal crop in Nicaragua, an opportunity remains for both increased output and better quality.
  • Panama: The famed Boquete Valley, and an interest and investment in producing the Geisha varietal, have cemented Panama’s reputation for amazing coffees.

South America

An almost perfect coffee-growing climate and vast land made South America a prime spot for cultivating a relatively new crop all the way back to the 1700s. Today it’s home to Brazil and Colombia, the top annual coffee producers in the world. Here are countries in South American known for coffee production:
  • Bolivia: A forest called the Yungas in the Andes Mountains is home to some strikingly beautiful, high-elevation coffee farms. Bolivia has had a reputation for lower-quality output, but the industry is waiting to see what the future holds.
  • Brazil: The largest coffee producer hasn’t always been the best, but Brazil has focused on fine-tuning its crops; its goal to be a top premium coffee source has spurred a resurgence.
  • Colombia: Thanks to stellar marketing and some beautiful coffees, Colombia is widely viewed as “the most coffee” of coffees when it comes to flavor in a cup.
  • Ecuador: Small farms in the Andes are producing limited quantities, but more infrastructure will help Ecuador reach its considerable potential.
  • Peru: A diversity of growing regions in this country has resulted in a wide variety of intriguing flavor profiles.
  • Venezuela: At one time, Venezuela had a coffee output that was comparable to its high-production neighbors. But Venezuela is producing less, so most of the interesting and good-quality crop is consumed in country rather than exported.

The Islands

With striking mountainous regions and situated perfectly in the tropical climate of the equatorial belt, these islands have history and heritage in coffee. Three are in the Caribbean Sea and one is in the Pacific Ocean, but all continue to have tremendous potential and some considerable pedigree as coffee growing origins:
  • Cuba: Although Cuba has been growing coffee since the mid-18th century, the political situation has all but eliminated any output from what is a coffee-growing environment with great potential.
  • Dominican Republic: This is another country with a long-established history of coffee farming and recognized potential for investment and renewed effort.
  • Hawaii: These islands host some of the most beautiful coffee farms and celebrate production of some of the most popular and pricey coffees in the world.
  • Jamaica: The famed Blue Mountains, located in the eastern third of the island, are home to coffee farms with a heritage that dates back to 1723 and French King Louis XV. King Louis sent three plants as a gift to Martinique, and five years later the governor of Martinique gave one of those as a gift to Jamaica’s governor.

Coffee grown in Africa

The birthplace of coffee, Africa today is an important frontier for innovation and growth in the coffee industry. Here are the countries in Africa that are known for coffee.

Northeast Africa

The Great Rift Valley, Mt. Kenya, and the Ethiopian Plateau combine to establish a splendid geography for coffee production in these two countries:
  • Ethiopia: The birthplace of coffee, Ethiopia is home to a long-standing, established culture that is centered on coffee and its place in community. Ethiopian coffees are some of the most exotic in the world.
  • Kenya: Although not the largest in terms of output among the African coffee countries, Kenya is certainly recognized and celebrated for its unusual and often high-quality, noteworthy coffees with unique flavor characteristics all their own.

Southern Africa

This region is home to countries that are often seen as having the greatest potential in the industry. These are the main coffee producers in southern Africa:
  • Burundi: An on-again, off-again approach has impacted Burundi’s coffee consistency; despite that, this small country is often the source of some unique offerings.
  • Congo: Some refreshingly bright and flavorful coffees have come out of Congo in recent years.
  • Malawi: Despite the fact that this country has experienced political instability, Malawi still has been able to export some tasty coffees that have found their way to consumers in Europe and the United States.
  • Rwanda: Highly respected for their response to the tragedy of genocide in the 1990s and the ensuing focus on coffee as a key to a brighter, more prosperous future, Rwandan coffee growers have established a reputation for producing some terrific coffees.
  • Tanzania: Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru are home to some highly regarded coffee farms, and coffee plays an important role in Tanzania’s economy.
  • Zambia: A small country with a growing interest in expanding its coffee industry, Zambia is another country to keep an eye on.

Coffee grown in the Eastern Hemisphere

Perhaps the most remote and exotic environments for coffee growing exist in the region known as the Asia Pacific.

Consider coffee in the following countries:

  • China: Although coffee production in China didn’t really begin in earnest until the late 1980s, what has been developed, primarily in the Yunnan Region, has been impressive, and green coffee buyers now recognize coffee from China as having huge potential.
  • India: An incredibly long history of both coffee and tea production has made India a long-standing and important source of both beverages.
  • Indonesia: The thousands of islands that make up Indonesia include a few that have established an enduring and respected place in the world of coffee.
  • Papua New Guinea: Coffee represents an important export for Papua New Guinea. The industry began here with the importation of coffee seeds from the Jamaican Blue Mountains in the early 1920s.
  • Vietnam: The number two coffee producer in the world, Vietnam has made progress in establishing itself as a source for quality and not just quantity; high-quality coffee exports are what the country is known for, more and more.
  • Yemen: Coffee dates way back to the sixth century in Yemen. The Arabian Port of Mokha, a Yemen coffee variety called Mocha, and a drink named mocha make it confusing, but Yemen has been the source of some of the greatest coffees.

About This Article

This article can be found in the category: