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Glossary of Coffee Terminology: Coffee Origins

Coffee Origins (Top 20 Coffee Producing Countries)

Coffee Glossary Table of Contents

Where does the coffee we drink come from? The top 20 coffee producing countries in the world are listed alphabetically below along with facts associated with each nation's coffee.

Brazil Coffee

Brazil: The #1 producer in the world, Brazil is said to make 1/3rd of the world’s coffee, producing around 3.6 million metric tons a year. Coffee produced here is mostly arabica (65-70%) while the remaining ones are robusta.

Due to the influence the country has on the coffee industry, the 60kg bags that Brazil packs its coffee in is said to be the standard unit of measurement for production and trade.

Columbia Coffee

Colombia: Coming in as the #3 ranked largest coffee producer, 858,000 metric tons of arabica coffee is produced by Colombia every year, with the country being one of the biggest producers of arabica in the world.

Colombian coffee became globally known due to the “Juan Valdez” ads that started in the late 1950s and run to this day. Colombian coffee is also known to have very aromatic and fruity flavors.

    Costa Rica Coffee

    Costa Rica: #14 is familiar to the entire coffee industry. A well-known country for coffee lovers, Costa Rica produces 100% arabica beans, harvesting 82,500 metric tons per year.

    Costa Rica actually enforced a ban on the production of robusta coffee to ensure that the production of its arabica beans would not lower its quality. They also use a combination of natural and artificial methods to clean the beans.

      El Salvador Coffee

      El Salvador: At #19 largest producer, though not producing as much as it did before, El Salvador is still a favorite amongst coffee lovers. The Central American country grows about 40,000 metric tons a year that is almost exclusively arabica.

      El Salvador actually produced almost 7 times what it produces today during its peak between 1970-1990. Most of the coffee here is produced within the central regions of the country. The Salvadoran Pacamarai variety is a popular type of coffee from here.

        Ethiopia Coffee

        Ethiopia: The #5 largest coffee producer, Ethiopia produces 100% arabica coffee, getting close to 450,000 metric tons a year. Arabica is a big part of their culture that they even have a coffee ceremony whenever they prepare their coffee.

        Ethiopia is also where the arabica plant is said to originate from. Coffea arabica was discovered some time in the 7th century, though some also cite Yemen as where it comes from.

          Guatemala Coffee

          Guatemala: Guatemala comes in at #11. Sharing a border with other coffee-producing countries such as El Salvador and Mexico, Guatemala has about 216,000 metric tons of coffee each year, with 97% of it being arabica.

          The diverse landscape of Guatemala adds to the flavor and notes in the coffee. In Antigua, where there are volcanoes, the soil becomes enhanced with the volcanic presence for a richer taste. The high altitudes in other regions also give it sweet and acidic tastes, similar to tarts and caramel.

            Honduras Coffee

            Honduras: #6 in the world in terms of coffee production, the small country of Honduras provides about 3.6% of the world’s coffee, gathering about 400,000 metric tons of coffee, 100% of it arabica.

            Honduras is also relatively new to the coffee game, coming onto the scene in the 1970s. The country’s diverse regions also give its coffee many unique characteristics and flavors, such as vanilla, fruits, and hazelnut.

              India Coffee

              India: #7 ranked largest coffee producer, India produces both arabica and robusta coffee, with a split of 37% and 73% respectively, totaling about 330,000 metric tons a year.

              Indian coffee is known to be less acidic, as well as have hints of cardamom in it. Even if it produces a lot of coffee, India’s beverage of choice is still tea, as they see coffee mainly as a product for export.

                Indonesia Coffee

                Indonesia: #4 largest producer in the world, and 2nd in Asia, Indonesia produces around 650,000 metric tons of coffee a year, with 97% of it being of the robusta variety and 3% being a mix of arabica and other blends.

                Indonesia is also home to one of the rarest coffees in the world, Kopi Luwak. The beans of the coffee are consumed by and passes through the Asian Palm Civet and can go for as much as $100 per cup. 

                  Ivory Coast Coffee

                  Ivory Coast: Côte d’Ivoire takes the #13 spot on largest coffee producers. One of the world’s largest cocoa producers is also one of the biggest coffee harvesters, grabbing about 110,000 metric tons of coffee a year. 100% of the coffee is robusta.

                  Coffee from Ivory Coast is also said to contain hints of chocolate as well due to the cocoa production in the country. A recent hybrid of arabica and robusta, aptly named arabusta was also created around here, though not much is known about it.

                    Kenya Coffee

                    Kenya: Beans from Kenya, which ranks as #17 largest in the world, are highly sought after in the US and Japan. Also sharing a border with Uganda, Kenya is a staple among coffee consumers and makes 100% arabica with its 39,000 metric tons a year.

                    Much like Uganda and India, Kenya also prefers tea as a beverage and see coffee as mainly an export product. The single-origin characteristic of Kenyan coffee is also some of the best in the world.

                      Laos Coffee

                      Laos: Rounding up the list at #20, this small Asian country produces both amounts of arabica and robusta coffee in its yearly harvest of almost 29,000 metric tons of coffee.

                      Much of the coffee was brought to the Bolaven Plateau, a region with volcanic soil that makes it a perfect ground for growing and harvesting coffee. 

                        Mexico Coffee

                        Mexico: The #8 ranked coffee producer in the world,Mexico is said to be the only North American country that produces coffee. 273,000 metric tons of coffee are made each year, with 97% being arabica and 3% being robusta.

                        Mexico has been known to be one of the world’s biggest sources for single origin coffee in the world. The Cafe de olla (“Pot Coffee”) is a well-known drink that contains hints of cinnamon and sugar as well as added in orange peels and cloves.

                          Nicaragua Coffee

                          Nicaragua: #12 on the list is Nicaragua. One of Central America’s larger coffee producers, Nicaragua is known for making about 140,000 metric tons of coffee each year, with 2% of its production being robusta in recent years and 98% being arabica.

                          In recent years, improved infrastructure and processing has helped Nicaragua guarantee some of the highest quality coffee.

                            Papua New Guinea Coffee

                            Papua New Guinea: #16 largest producer of coffee in the world is Papua New Guinea. Of the 54,000 metric tons of coffee produced by Papua New Guinea a year, 94% of it is arabica and the remaining 6% being robusta.

                            Its geographical location actually makes it difficult to grow coffee in the country. Recent years have shown a growing effort to improve production quality and education on coffee in the country.

                              Peru Coffee

                              Peru: Ranked as #9 in terms of coffee production is Peru. 270,000 metric tons of arabica coffee are gathered each year in Peru. The coffee also grows along the country’s shared borders with Ecuador and Bolivia.

                              Peruvian coffee is said to be rich in a variety of hints and flavors, due to the variety of regions that the coffee grows in.

                                Tanzania Coffee

                                Tanzania: The #15 largest producer in the world, Tanzania produces arabica and robusta almost equally, with 52% and 48% being the respective splits in the 75,000 metric tons a year it harvests.

                                Tanzanian coffee is said to have various fruity and floral notes with it. The beans are also similar to those grown in Kenya and Ethiopia.

                                  Thailand Coffee

                                  Thailand: Thailand is also recognized as a relative newcomer, though it ranks as #18 largest in the world. Thailand grows most of its 42,000 metric tons of coffee each year close to its border with Malaysia. Robusta makes up close to 100% of its produce.

                                  Specialty coffee shops are found all around Thailand, and they are also trying to up their production in arabica beans to become one of the more recognizable ones in the future.

                                    Uganda Coffee

                                    Uganda: Uganda is ranked as #10 in the world’s largest coffee producers. Uganda creates about 255,000 metric tons of coffee each year. The country has about 82% of its coffee being robusta and the remaining 18% being arabica.

                                    Due to British influence, Uganda also sees coffee as mainly an export, much like India. Robusta coffee is also said to originate from here, and other parts of Central and Western Africa such as the Congo.

                                      Vietnam Coffee

                                      Vietnam: The #2 largest coffee producer world wide, Vietnam is also Asia’s largest coffee producing country. 95% of Vietnam’s 1.83 million metric tons of coffee is robusta. 

                                      Due to its harvest of almost purely robusta coffee, Vietnam is responsible for 40% of the world’s supply of robusta coffee.

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