I don’t know about you but I’ve been curious as to who the big coffee producing countries were. So I did a little data diving and found out some interesting stuff.
Thing is, when you buy online or at the local coffee specialty store, it’s hard to picture that the beans can travel 15,000 miles or more depending on where you are in relation to where they’re grown.
I thought it would be interesting and fun to be able to see what kind of trip your favorite coffee has to make before it winds up in your cup.
After a little slicing and dicing and le voila!
The result is the map above and this post with the amounts of coffee up to July 2016. Also for some additional curiosity, some historical coffee background related to the year’s top ten was sprinkled in.
I used data supplied by worldatlas.com. This was from information that they had derived from the International Coffee Association.
To start the coffee bag rolling, the total amount of coffee produced as of July 2016 was 8,372,482 US tons. Or, if you’d prefer, 126,589,798 bags of coffee.
Well, that certainly makes for a lot of coffee and espresso doesn’t it. . .
Use the links below if you’d like to jump to a particular country
If you take a look at the map you can see that the subtropical and equatorial regions are the great growing grounds for coffee.
In the subtropical regions, Arabica beans at altitudes of between 1800 to 3600 feet are the norm. In addition, the seasons need to be well defined between rainy and dry. When these conditions are met, there is one full coffee growing and maturation season.
For Arabica beans in the equatorial regions, you’ll find coffee growing at higher altitudes of between 3600 to 6300 feet. This area also means there’s going to be continuous rainfall throughout the year. In fact, some countries grow their coffee during monsoon seasons. Because of the continual water, the plants are always flowering which results in two harvesting seasons.
Robusta beans on the other hand are more tolerant of warm weather and can grow at lower altitudes of sea level to 3000 feet. There is only one full growth and harvest season.
Where coffee is grown will also sometimes dictate how it’s processed. If it’s raining most of the time, the beans can’t be left out to dry. Some sort of mechanical process is needed. If there’s a stretch of hot weather, the beans are left out and raked periodically.
Where IS Coffee Grown? The Top Ten Coffee Producers Worldwide
There are 21 countries highlighted on the map. The ones in yellow are the top ten up to July 2016. Here’s a little more on them:
Brazil comes in at the number one spot with production total of 2,859,502 US tons. As it has for many years, its total production is about 1/3 of the total world production.
Coffee came to Brazil by way of Cayenne, French Guiana in 1727. The equatorial conditions have proven to be beneficial, though, interestingly enough, Brazil is the only coffee making country that is subject to the hazards of frost.
In the recent past there have been several severe frosts that trimmed production, sometimes badly. Even though it helps the competition, it’s a problem as it raises prices worldwide. But the country has bounced back each time.
Another curious fact is that Brazil is the 14th largest consumer of coffee. Brazil and Ethiopia are the only coffee producers with large domestic consumption.
Some of the most popular beans coming from Brazil are the Bahia, the Bourbon Santos, and the Cerrado.
Vietnam takes the number two spot with 1,818,811 US tons of coffee. Introduced to Vietnam by French missionaries in the mid-1860s, coffee production in Vietnam didn’t do much until the late 1980s and early 1990s. Production rose at a pretty rapid pace which has resulted in its current world position.
In the past, Colombia was number 2 but has slipped as Vietnam’s production has increased. Most of the beans coming out of Vietnam are the Robusta style.
Columbia takes third place with 892,871 US tons of coffee. Colombia’s coffee is grown at a higher altitude in a moisture climate and in volcanic soil which results in a richer, milder cup of coffee. Notable coffees coming out of Columbia are from Medellin, Supremo, and Bogotá.
It’s thought that coffee got its start in Columbia when the first Jesuit priests came in the mid-16th century. After a slow start, in 1835 Columbia exported its first 2500 bags to the US. It lost its second place position to Vietnam in the mid-1990s due to Vietnam’s rapid growth.
Coming in at the fourth spot is Indonesia with 814,629 US tons. There are a number of specialty Arabicas that are grown in Indonesia and the island of Java. But Indonesia’s main claims is it is the world’s largest producer of Robusta beans. A selection of the more popular beans coming out are from Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi (Celebes.)
Indonesia is probably best known for these specialty coffees: kopi luwak, Toraja coffee, Aceh, and Mandheling/Mandailing.
Ethiopia is number five with 423,287 US tons. The country is the legendary origin of coffee. The story is that coffee was discovered by a shepherd when he noticed how active his goats were after eating the fruit of the coffee trees.
Ethiopia is the natural home to the Arabica coffee tree that grows wild in the country’s forests. Coffee is so important to Ethiopian society, there are coffee ceremonies that last as long as an hour and are major events.
Popular beans coming from Ethiopia are the Harrar, Sidamo/Yirgacheffe and Ghimbi.
India takes the sixth spot and comes in with 385,786 US tons. According to yet another legend is considered to be the birthplace of coffee cultivation east of Arabia starting in the 17th century.
Most coffee is grown under monsoon conditions in the southern areas of India and is shade grown as well. Formerly fairly weak coffee, India has improved the quality and, as a result, has moved up in ranking. The majority of the beans produced are Robusta.
India’s popular beans are the Mysore, Monsooned Malabar
At number seven is Honduras with 380,296 US tons. Coffee production started around 1804 when Honduras was still part of Spain. Coffee didn’t get a foothold until the latter part of the 20th century due to the influence of banana production. With a stable government and help, it quickly became an important cash crop.
The Bourbon, Typica, and Caturra are very popular beans from the region.
Uganda stakes a claim at number eight with 314,489 US tons. Very little Arabica is grown in Uganda. It is mostly grown in the mountainous border areas with production having started in the 1900’s.
Robusta is the major crop and is a native plant to Uganda. The higher elevation grown beans are of higher quality. These are slated to be used in espresso while the lower quality beans are used as fillers and in instant coffee.
Uganda ships these popular robusta beans: the Bugisu and Wugar.
Mexico snags the number nine spot with 257,940 tons. Coffee was introduced into Veracruz, Mexico in the late 18th century. Oddly, even though Mexico is the closest coffee producing country to the US, those coffees don’t make it as exports to the United States.
Instead, the beans go to Europe with apparent great popularity in Germany. But fortunately, Mexico is relatively close for a trip and the coffee can be bought on line as well.
Popular beans are the Altura, Liquidamber MS, and Pluma Coixtepec.
And closing the list at number ten is Guatemala with 224,871 US tons. Coffee production was brought to Guatemala by German immigrants in the 19th century. The beans are grown at higher altitudes of 4000-6000 feet. They grow generally on volcanic or limestone soil.
The beans exposed to ocean weather are thought to have a tendency to be milder, while those that have more mountain protection are more potent.
Considered by many to be the world’s best beans. The more sought after are the Antiqua, Atitlan and Huehuetenango.
There you have it, the current reigning top ten. There’s a great way to experiment and taste different coffees from around the world. That’s through a coffee subscription or sampler. You can try out different beans, roasting styles and blends.
Give one a try.
Tell me, where’s your favorite bean from?