Biggest Coffee Producing Countries

Biggest coffee growing countries

Coffee is the third most widely consumed beverage worldwide, after water and tea. We consume about 10 million tons of roasted coffee beans and more than 400 billion cups each year! People mostly enjoy the beverage hot, although iced coffee is increasingly popular in the summer. However, there is a high possibility that you do not know where the coffee grows: unfortunately, like many plants, it doesn't grow well or sustainably in all parts of the world. The Arabica variety, which comprises about 70 percent of world’s coffee supply, thrives at high altitudes in rich soils. The heartier Robusta, on the other hand, grows best at higher temperatures and thrives on the lower ground.

Which Countries grow coffee?

Coffee beans come from an evergreen shrub growing in about 70 countries around the world. The ideal conditions for coffee trees are along the Equatorial zone called 'The Coffee Belt' or 'The Bean Belt.' It is a strip of land between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, 23.5 degrees north and south of the equator. The climate is typically tropical, similar to that of the coffee origin in Ethiopia, and characterized by rich soils, cool to warm temperatures, and an alternating wet and dry season. Notably, many of the countries in the Coffee Belt are also part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, whose volcanic activity contributes to the richness of the soil that coffee plants flourish.

Iburu Coffee - Coffee belt

The coffee belt is approximately 3200 miles (5100 km) and passes through 70 countries on five continents; Africa, Asia, North America, South America, and Oceania. However, only 44 of these countries produce coffee in significant amounts, and Oceania has little coffee compared to the other four continents. Notably, many of these countries. A list of 78 coffee-producing countries and quantities is at the bottom of this article.

Biggest coffee-producing countries

The most consumed coffee types are Arabica and Robusta. We have highlighted the countries that make coffee from the highest to the lowest quantities.

Brazil

Brazil has remained one of the highest coffee producers in the world for over 150 years.   In 2020, it produced a total of 2,598,000 metric tons making the coffee trade one of the country's most prolific industries.

Due to the favorable climatic conditions, most coffee is in the country's southeastern parts, with São Paulo, Minas Gerais, and Parana as the top three growing cities.  Brazil's coffee farms cover 27000 sq. km approximately and account for 40 percent of the global coffee supply. 

Dry or natural processing is the most widely used method of coffee production, meaning that water is not used to clean the coffee in a technique known as wet processing. Instead, the coffee cherries are left out to air dry using the sun's natural heat.

Vietnam

If you have had the experience of Vietnamese coffee, you probably know what Vietnam can offer! It is famous for its strong coffee brews with high caffeine content and higher acidity.  That is because the coffee is almost always Robusta and a darker roast. The traditional Vietnamese brewing method with a Phin also uses a lot of coffee grounds for the water amount and a more extended brewing time, making the coffee stronger.

The French introduced coffee to Vietnam in the 19th century, and after the Vietnam War, the government instituted a large-scale coffee production program. Production took off by the 1990's, and today, Vietnam has earned itself the second-biggest producer spot in the world, accounting for more than 1.73 million tons of coffee annually.  The country primarily cultivates the Robusta coffee variety, accounting for more than 96 percent of the total production. Vietnamese coffee is commonly used for blending.

Columbia

Colombia used to be the second coffee producer globally after Brazil, until Vietnam's recent entry into the market. The drop in yields is mainly attributed to the changes experienced in temperatures and rainfall not favorable to coffee. The change has been taking place since 2011, with the temperatures drastically rising.

In 2020, Columbia produced only 810,000 metric tons, which was relatively low compared to its competitors. In addition, the growth of standard coffee flavors has also greatly affected the quality of coffee the country has been growing. However, in the international league of coffee production, it is still a key player in the market.  Traditionally, Colombia processes most of its coffees using the fully washed method, but ecological systems that use less water are becoming common.

Indonesia

Indonesia is not at the top and has never emerged at the top, but it is one of the most famous coffee producers in the world. Some of the rarest coffees in the Western world originate in Indonesia, including but certainly not limited to the exclusive and most expensive coffee; Kopi Luwak! In 2016, the country managed 660000 metric tons and 770,000 metric tons in 2020, taking the fourth position globally. 

Indonesia is composed of thousands of Islands. Indonesia's strategic location close to the equator and geographical features creates favourable conditions for the beverage plant. Thousands of islands and mountains comprise the country's landscape and several larger ones -Java, Sumatra, and Sulawesi, well known for their fine coffees. Today, more than 90% of Indonesia's coffee is grown by smallholders on farms averaging around one hectare. The coffees have a pronounced rich, full body and mild acidity and are mostly dry processed. Currently, coffee amounts to 85% of all the exports Indonesia makes.  

Indonesia is also known for its fine-aged coffees, which resulted when farmers who wanted to sell them at higher prices held them over some time. Warehousing gently ages the coffee in Indonesia's warm, damp climate yielding a coffee prized for an even deeper body and less acidity. It is a process that, even today's technology, cannot match!

Ethiopia

Coffee is native to Ethiopia, and the high-quality coffees and multiple varieties have made the country globally renowned. So, it may not come as a surprise to know that Ethiopia has been in coffee production for more than 1100 years. Production has steadily grown over the last three years and is forecasted to reach 457,200 metric tons in 2021/22 under suitable growing conditions. Last year, Ethiopia produced 440000 metric tons coming fifth.

More than 16 million Ethiopians work in the coffee fields, constituting 28% of exports annually. The cultivation type can be categorized into plantation, garden, forest, and semi-forest coffee. The total land area covered by Arabica plants and other varieties is approximately 400,000 hectares. Coffee variants produced in Ethiopia vary with the geographic location, and Sidamo, Harar, Limu, and Yirgacheffe beans are among the widely consumed worldwide. The trademarked coffee brands are entirely under the control of the government.

Since Ethiopia is the origin of coffee, the beverage has been an essential part of everyday life and culture long before it became commercialized. Thus, about 50-55% of the total coffee is domestically consumed. The coffee was traditionally dry processed, but wet processing is increasingly becoming common. 

India

India's coffee industry is diverse and vibrant. The country grows some of the finest Robusta coffee and represents about 3.5 percent of total global production. The favorable topography and climatic conditions have enabled the growth of coffee beans in the country's Southern and Northeast regions.

Coffee is grown both on a large scale and small scale in India, with the acreage standing at about 350,000 hectares. The primary growing regions are located in the Southern states; Karnataka accounting for 71%, followed by Kerala, with 21 percent, and Tamil Nadu, which yields 5 percent.   About 98 percent of the 250,000 coffee growers are smallholders.

Most of the coffee is shade-grown and together with other crops as cinnamon and cardamon. As a result, India's top-grade Robusta yields a clean and smooth flavor with no rubbery aftertaste typical of different Robusta coffees.  Second only to tea, this crop is the most sought-after commodity in India, and the export of both items account for more than 80 percent.

Honduras

Honduras is a prolific coffee producer and the largest in Central America. Its coffee is grown at high altitudes, with 61 percent of the farms located between 3900 and 5200 feet above sea level. The country has a significant growers population involving more than 100,000 families, 95 percent of which are smallholders. Most of the coffee variety is arabica accounting for 91 percent, and Robusta, the remaining 9 percent. 

Historically, Honduras did not export the coffee due to a lack of adequate transport and shipping alternatives; thus, they domestically consumed about 90 percent of the coffee. The flavor profiles are typically mild, robust, and sweet but this varies depending on the region's unique climate and elevation. The weather is generally more temperate in the mountains and more tropical in the lowlands.  Honduras contributes 3.9 percent of global production.

Uganda

Uganda is the 2nd largest coffee producer in Africa after Ethiopia. It is also the 4th largest Robusta producing country! Uganda has 1.7 million coffee-growing households, 85 percent of which are smallholders annually, making 0.6 tons per hectare on average. Coffee accounts for 20-30 percent of the country's foreign exchange earnings annually, and more than 3.5 million families work in coffee-related activities.

Uganda's coffee industry was fully liberalized from total state control between 1991 and 1992 and is entirely in private hands, and production has since increased. However, the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) remains export quality control that grades liquors and classifies all export shipments. In 2016 the country bragged about having produced over 288,000 metric tons, which was a significant improvement. However, you will also note that in 1989 the export still crossed 2.5 million coffee bags.

Mexico

Coffee is one of Mexico's most lucrative exports, and nearly half a million small farmers and their families are economically dependent on the crop. Most farms are in the south-central and southern regions of the country - Veracruz, Oaxaca, and Chiapas.

Besides being the top producer in North America, another little-known fact is that Mexico is one of the world's largest exporters of organic-certified coffee. Up to 8% of producers grow organic coffee, especially in the southernmost states of Chiapas and Oaxaca. Unfortunately, these two states also happen to be the poorest in the country, and not coincidentally, have the largest indigenous populations.

The coffee is mainly Arabica which grows particularly well in the coastal region of Soconusco and Chiapas near the border of Guatemala. The coffee is of excellent quality and in 2016 was 234,000 metric tons but production most recently dropped to 153,794 metric tons.

Guatemala

For a long time, Guatemala has been holding the 9th position before letting Mexico. It was also central America's top producer for most of the 20th and beginning of the 21st century until Honduras overtook it in 2011. So often, you will see Guatemala as a tiny country with a vast coffee industry base on the world map.

Coffee was introduced in 1700s and has helped fuel Guatemala's economy for over a hundred years. Today, an estimated 125,000 coffee producers drive Guatemala's coffee industry on around 270,000 hectares, almost all of which (98%) is shade-grown. The country's production is almost exclusively Arabica, mainly processed using the washed method, though natural and various semi-washed ways are gaining popularity.

Coffee remains one of Guatemala's top export products, accounting for 40% of agricultural export revenue.

Combined, Guatemalan coffee farms make up 2.7% of the world coffee market. Diverse regions throughout this small country contain varied soil, rainfall, humidity, altitude, and temperature resulting in seven distinct types of Arabica coffee.

What makes these countries get the highest export shares in the markets

For the most part, coffee grows inside the earth's equatorial zone, between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. This fact is seemingly due to environmental conditions and not to geographical constraints. The most important conditions necessary for a coffee tree to grow are the presence of a temperate or tropical climate where there is no frost, ample sunshine, and plenty of water. In addition, the combination of altitude and temperatures influences the type of coffee the crops will yield and its demand by consumers. Thus, most of these countries have favorable conditions that make the production of coffee stand out.

For instance, there are two conditions optimal for growing Arabica coffee:

Coffee belt

First, in the equatorial regions at 3600-6300 feet and at latitudes lower than 10°, frequent rainfall causes almost continuous flowering, resulting in two harvesting seasons. The highest rainfall period determines the main harvesting period. Artificial drying with mechanical dryers is performed in this coffee-growing environment because rainfall is too frequent for patio drying to occur. Kenya, Columbia, and Ethiopia are examples of countries experiencing this climate.

Secondly, the rainy and dry seasons must be well defined, and altitude must be between 1800-3600 feet in the subtropical regions. These conditions result in one coffee growing season and one maturation season, usually in the coldest part of autumn. Countries such as Mexico, Jamaica, the S. Paulo and Minas Gerais regions in Brazil, and Zimbabwe have these climate conditions.

On the other hand, Robusta coffee is grown at much lower altitudes (sea level-3000 feet) in the area 10° North and South of the equator. That is because it is much more tolerant to warm conditions than Arabica coffee.

Apart from having favorable climatic conditions, the countries have also invested in the production technologies which make their winnings stand out. Employment of various methods and technologies makes the quality of coffee these countries produce healthier and extensive production, hence having a proper market supply.

List of countries which grow coffee:

 

Country

Quantity (metric tons)

 

Country

Quantity (metric tons)

 

Country

Quantity (metric tons)

1

Brazil

2,680,515

 

Cameroon

30,984

 

Mozambique

793

2

Vietnam

1,542,398

 

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

29,912

 

Ghana

727

3

Columbia

754,376

 

Bolivia

21,181

 

Zimbabwe

608

4

Indonesia

668,677

 

Yemen

19,514

 

Liberia

594

5

Honduras

475,042

 

Togo

18,476

 

Nepal

466

6

Ethiopia

471,247

 

Rwanda

17,824

 

Paraguay

442

7

Peru

346,466

 

Guinea

17,813

 

Guyana

401

8

India

312,000

 

Angola

15,436

 

Cambodia

365

9

Guatemala

245,441

 

Dominican Republic

15,241

 

Dominica

287

10

Uganda

209,325

 

Burundi

14,000

 

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

184

11

Mexico

153,794

 

Timor - Leste

10,827

 

Comoros

140

12

Laos

150,795

 

Central African Republic

9,355

 

Gabon

94

13

Nicaragua

128,111

 

Myanmar

8,546

 

Belize

80

14

China

115,150

 

Malawi

8,420

 

Benin

50

15

Ivory Coast

103,514

 

Malaysia

8,109

 

Cape Verde

47

16

Costa Rica

90,390

 

Ecuador

7,564

 

Trinidad and Tobago

39

17

Philippines

62,078

 

Zambia

6,880

 

Guadeloupe

31

18

Papua New Guinea

58,840

 

Cuba

6,306

 

Martinique

28

19

Tanzania

55,789

 

Jamaica

6,222

 

Vanuatu

26

20

Madagascar

47,387

 

Panama

5,730

 

French Polynesia

22

21

Venezuela

46,650

 

Sri Lanka

5,437

 

Tonga

16

22

Kenya

40,800

 

Equatorial Guinea

4,272

 

Samoa

12

23

Haiti

39,537

 

Puerto Rico

3,868

 

Sao Tome and Principe

12

24

El Salvador

35,720

 

Republic of the Congo

3,197

 

Fiji

9

25

Sierra Leone

35,720

 

United States

2,200

 

Suriname

6

26

Thailand

34,312

 

Nigeria

1,556

 

New Caledonia

5

 

Conclusion

You now have a clue of the kind of coffee you take and where it comes from. The next time you buy your coffee, you can check on the packing solutions to see the country it originates from. The quality is outstanding, and the flavors that come from the various countries remain outstanding. We will get back to you soon with more information about coffee production and technologies.


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Written by

Gakii Mugendi


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