Which coffee-growing countries are the main suppliers of coffee?
Coffee plants need certain climatic conditions because they can be very sensitive, and even climate change has left its mark on them. In fact, the conditions for growing coffee exist only around the equator. This zone is often referred to as the Coffee Belt.
Today, I am going to present to you the top 10 coffee growing countries around the equator and explain how their coffees can be so different from one another.
Let’s dive in!
10th place: Guatemala
Guatemalan coffee is as diverse as the country is. Different microclimates shape the aroma of the coffees between the various regions. Guatemala's coffees grow mainly on mountain slopes and lowlands.
Some taste like cocoa and toffee, while others have completely different flavours such as lemon, but others can taste floral with a pronounced acidity.
Around 100,000 coffee producers work on 270,000 hectares, mostly on areas averaging 2-3 hectares, working with Arabica varieties such as Caturra and Bourbon.
9th place: Peru
The 9th place amongst the coffee growing countries belongs to Peru. This country in South America with high mountain ranges produces 3% of the world market share. The main species is Arabica with the varieties Typica, Bourbon, and Caturra being the most common.
However, quality assurance is difficult in Peru. A lack of logistics and infrastructure doesn't make things any easier for coffee farmers. The government is trying to remedy these shortcomings through funding, and is investing in training and new growing areas.
Peru produces excellent coffee in small quantities with unusual earthy and herbaceous notes.
8th place: Mexico
Mexican coffee ranks 8th on the international list of coffee-growing countries. Mexico produces 3% of the world market share, of which 90% Arabica and 10% Robusta. The coffee industry as an employer feeds more than 300,000 people.
Most coffee farmers have small coffee farms that do not cover more than 25 hectares of land.
Bourbon and Typica are the most commonly cultivated types of coffee in the state that still belongs to North America. The coffees from Mexico are increasing in demand on the specialty market. In addition, the Arabica varieties, which are mostly washed, are pleasantly low in acid.
7th place: Honduras
With 3% market share, Honduras ranks 7th among the coffee producing countries. The country only produces Arabica coffee— mainly the Pacas and Typica varieties. The coffee from Honduras offers a wide range of flavours too.
Some coffees are soft and low in acid, nutty, toffee-like, while others are acidic and aromatic. The coffee trees cultivated under shade do not need any chemicals in their natural environment.
The coffee quality improvement from the Central American country is promoted with government subsidies in order to position itself as a future strong contender in the specialty coffee market.
6th place: India
In India, with around 1,000,000 people, 250,000 of those are small farmers who earn their livelihood with coffee. The coffee of the peninsula, be it Robusta or Arabica, is characterised by a full body and little acidity.
The taste of the beans varies immensely depending on the region. These coffee trees grow in the shade surrounded by pepper, ginger, cardamom, nuts, oranges, bananas, mangoes, jackfruit and vanilla.
Farmers use wet, dry, semi-dry and monsooned process: a technique that is only available there. The coffee cherries are deliberately exposed to the monsoons, which gives the coffee beans its very own aroma.
This coffee is also known as Monsooned Malabar and is grown in the southwest of the country.
5th place: Ethiopia
Ethiopia is the cradle of Arabica coffee. This country in the east of Africa, has lush vegetation in the high elevations, and makes up 5% of the world market share. Coffee growing gives work to around 15 million people in Ethiopia.
Local heirloom varieties are prepared wet or dry and inspire with their unique, versatile character: heirloom varieties such as mocha and geisha are elegant, floral to herbaceous, citrus-like and are therefore something very special among the coffees in the world.
The great diversity is seen as a beacon of hope in times of climate change, because many wild species, which may hold the key to the continued existence of coffee, are considered to be threatened.
Ethiopia coffee is processed dry, which underlines its unique character: a flowery floral aroma is paired with a balanced sweetness and a pleasantly light texture.
4th place: Colombia
Colombia ranks fourth among the coffee-growing countries. The South American country produces 6% of the world market share with an upward trend. Around 2,000,000 people make a living from coffee, while 650,000 of them are smallholders who cultivate one to two hectares of land and use it to make a living.
Many Arabica varieties are cultivated in different growing areas. Typica, Bourbon, Tabi, Caturra, Colombia, Maragopie and Castillo give the coffee from Colombia from the respective regions an enormous abundance of notes from nutty, chocolate, flowery, fruity to a tropical sweetness.
3rd place: Indonesia
Coffee from Indonesia includes coffees from Sulawesi and Sumatra, and makes 3rd place in the ranking list among the top 10 coffee-growing countries. Together these regions represent 7% of the world market share.
Indonesian coffee has an extremely broad taste profile. This is especially true of the Arabica coffee from Sulawesi, where 95% Arabica and 5% Robusta are grown, impressing drinkers with notes of berries, grapefruit, nuts and spices. It is also hearty bodied with low acidity and has a dense texture.
2nd place: Vietnam
With a world market share of 14%, Vietnam has been growing coffee since 1857 and has risen to number two, but only in terms of the amount of coffee produced - unfortunately not in terms of quality.
Vietnam cultivates 95% Robusta and only 5% Arabica coffee. The Robusta beans are often exported and are used to produce instant coffee.
On the north coast of Vietnam, mountains protect against the monsoon wind. This is where the country's 5% Arabica flourishes, and the beans have a sweet and nutty flavour profile, which proves that coffee from Vietnam can be of great quality.
1st place: Brazil
Brazil leads the list of the top 10 coffee-growing countries with a world market share of 35%. The world's largest coffee producer grows 80% Arabica and 20% Robusta.
Around 300,000 farms from tiny to huge produce dry, semi-dry, semi-wet and wet processed Arabica coffee and cultivate different varieties such as Mundo Novo, Icatu, Catuai, Acaia and Bourbon.
Traditionally, Brazilian coffees have a very chocolaty and nutty taste. The spectrum ranges from milk chocolate and hazelnut to dark chocolate and Brazil nut.
It’s amazing to see that the top 10 coffee-growing countries around the equator span four continents. Each of these locations has its own distinct climate conditions and biodiverse characteristics.
A balanced climate with temperatures that don't experience extreme fluctuations, sufficient rainfall, nutrient-rich soil and protection from the sun are just as important for the coffee plants as the geographical location.
We are actually privileged to be able to try coffees from so many different origins with unique characteristics. And let’s not forget that for many, coffee is their livelihood. We should keep that in mind as we are tackling climate change.