Coffee drinking has become very popular around the world, especially since it’s available from nearly every street corner coffee shop and petrol stations! Coffee beans are grown in many regions between the Tropic of Cancer to the North and the Tropic of Capricorn below the equator (see coffee bean belt map below).
Coffee Bean Belt
Coffee can grow anywhere from sea level up to about 7,000 feet, which leads to many different possibilities to satisfy any taste. However, the highest quality grades of coffee are grown at the higher altitudes. There are over eighty countries that produce coffee and the following are some of the larger coffee producing regions in the world today but they are not the only ones as you will see:
Coffee was first introduced to Brazil in 1727. Today, Brazil (part of the coffee bean belt) is the world’s largest producer of coffee beans, producing about 25% of the world’s supply. About 80% of the coffee beans grown in Brazil are Arabica. Brazil is also known in the specialty coffee industry with Brazilian farms growing primarily Bourbon, Typica, Caturra and Mundo Novo coffee beans.
The Brazilian harvests take place between March and October. The farmers harvest the coffee cherries by strip picking and other mechanical methods and depending on the weather conditions, either the dry or wet method of bean processing is used.
Coffee was introduced to Columbia in the early 1800’s. Today Columbia (part of the coffee bean belt) is second only to Brazil as the world’s largest coffee producer and Columbia produces about 12% of the world’s supply of coffee. The
Columbian coffees are rich in flavor with a heavy body and bright acidity. They are known to be intensely aromatic. The Columbian harvests take place between October and February, and then again between April and June with Columbian farmers growing Bourbon, Typica, Caturra and Maragogype coffee varieties.
Coffee was first planted in Mexico in the late 1700’s. The coffee bean grown in Mexico is generally considered to be an uncomplicated bean and is used more as a base for blending. The Mexican farms grow Bourbon, Mundo Novo, Caturra and Maragogype varieties which are usually grown organically on small farms.
The climate in Guatemala is very diverse due to the soil, rainfall, humidity, altitude and temperature. For this reason, Guatemala has seven distinct coffees that are produced. The time of harvest varies throughout the regions but is primarily October through January.
Indonesia and New Guinea
Sumatran coffees are some the heaviest, yet smoothest and most complex coffees in the world. Their most notable coffees are the Mandheling and Lintong varieties which are grown inland.
The coffees produced in Honduras are generally considered unremarkable in quality but are a good base for use in blending. The Honduran harvesting takes place between October and March and generally the wet process method is used. The Honduran farms grow Bourbon, Caturra and Typica coffee varieties.
The coffees grown in Ethiopia (part of the coffee bean belt) are widely considered the most unique and fascinating coffees in the world. The three common types of coffees grown in Ethiopia are Harrar, Ghimbi and Sidamo. These are known for their full bodies and rich aromas, and each has its own fruit-like tastes.
Some other countries that also produce coffee are Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Jamaica, Kenya (see below), Malawi, Nicaragua, Tanzania, Uganda and Venezuela.
Although many African countries such as Kenya and the Ivory Coast are only small coffee producers they are by no means insignificant on the world scene. From humble beginnings the continent of Africa has become world-famous for producing dark, large coffee beans of the highest quality and the most superb taste
In the foothills of Mount Kenya some of the best beans in the world are cultivated on small farms. Coffee is sold by the size of the bean, with AA being the largest grade and Kenyan coffee is known for consistently achieving this rating.
Estate Kenya ranks as one of the best coffees in the world and as such it is definitely on the expensive side, sometimes retailing for twice the price of other products from the range but let me assure you it is well worth the money. Their best bean has huge body combined with an astonishing winy, acidic blackcurrant flavour, the aroma alone is irresistible. From experience I can guarantee it will seduce any coffee connoisseur’s taste buds purely from the rich aroma as it wafts across the room.
The Ivory Coast is well established as one of the world’s largest producers of the Robusta coffee bean variety which is specifically used to make espresso blends, unfortunately,
since the country has been affected by political unrest the production has fallen considerably.
Today, in the strife torn country of Rwanda, coffee growing is making a major contribution to the hope for lasting peace and economic recovery of this small nation which has been so devastated by civil war. Since 2001, A.I.D. has invested over $10 million in helping Rwandan’s improve the quality of their coffee mainly by establishing farmer’s cooperatives and assisting small entrepreneurs with finance to purchase washing stations and training in their use. The Rwanda government’s goal is to make all coffee produced in the country specialty coffee by 2017.
A little known fact is that Australia began growing coffee in 1880 but the fledgling industry was short lived and wound up in 1926. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that it sparked up again. The district of Mareeba in north Queensland claims to be the coffee capital of Australia. With a similar latitude south of the equator as San Paulo in Brazil and Hawaii are north of the equator, the Arabica beans have adapted perfectly to the climate. Also a number of smaller farms have sprung up in the northern rivers area of New South Wales around the regions of Lismore and Byron Bay.
As the world increases its desire for this beautifully flavored bean there is sure to be an array of different varieties surface on the market. Just keep a look out.