Mapping the Magic: The World’s Biggest Coffee Growing Regions

Coffee Cherries Ready For Harvest

You already know you love coffee. But how much do you know about where it’s made? If you’re on the hunt for clues about your coffee’s origin, we invite you to take our little tour of the world’s coffee growing regions—without having to leave your seat.

The roughly 70 countries that make up the Coffee Belt are scattered around the world, generally between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, comprising parts of Latin America, Africa, Southeast Asia, and South Asia. Being close to the Equator, these countries are able to offer coffee its favorite climate: average temps a balmy 70 degrees, rich soil, and a healthy mix of both sun and rain.

Why care? Beans from different places have big differences in terms of flavor, body, and acidity. So to help you navigate the geo-lingo, we’ve rounded up a few of the biggest producers, with a little help from the National Coffee Association.

First Stop: Central and South America

Guatemala has three main growing regions, each characterized by rugged terrain and rich volcanic soil. Guatemalan coffee tends to be medium-to-full bodied, with a slightly chocolate-y, slightly spicy twist. Costa Rica produces a wet processed Arabica, making for a nicely balanced cup of coffee.

South America’s home to two giants in the coffee world. First, we’ve got Brazil, where coffee has been thriving since the early 18th century. Today, Brazil is now responsible for producing a third of the coffee supply worldwide, and is “unquestionably the biggest coffee producing country in the world,” according to the NCA. Most of Brazil’s coffee tends to the sweet, medium-bodied, and low-acid side of the spectrum.

Meanwhile, Colombia holds its own in terms of worldwide reputation and production. Colombian coffee tends to have a balanced acidity and delicate aroma.

On to Africa

Ethiopia, where coffee berries were first appreciated for their energizing properties, still makes much of its coffee from wild coffee tree forests. Usually wet processed, Ethopian coffee is known for its rich, earthy, full-bodied taste.

Elsewhere in Africa, Kenya turns out a sharp, fruity, full-bodied coffee, while the Ivory Coast is one of the biggest producers of Arabica coffee, which is strongly aromatic with a light body and acidity.

Asia Steps Up

Yemen holds the honor as first country to commercially cultivate coffee. Its arid climate means these beans tend to be small and irregularly shaped, and are generally dry processed after harvest. The resulting flavor is deep, rich, and unique.

In Indonesia, three of the country’s thousands of islands are especially well known for their coffee: Sumatra, Java, and Sulawesi. Dutch colonists first introduced the coffee plant to Java in the 17th century, and the area quickly became one the world’s leading suppliers. Indonesian coffee tends to be rich, full-bodied, and mildly acidic.

Vietnam is best known for its robusta, which is lightly acidic, mild bodied, and good for blending. They’ve been perfecting the cultivation process since French missionaries introduced the Arabica tree there in the mid-19th century.

And there you have it – some of the countries most responsible for providing our daily joe. Now, who’s up for a tour?

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