More than 50 countries around the world grow coffee to keep us all caffeinated to the tune of more than 2.25 billion cups of coffee every day. The global coffee market is worth around $127 billion and is expected to grow to $187 billion by 2030. So, as one of the most traded commodities, we need to grow an astronomical amount of coffee to keep the global coffee supply going.
So which country produces the most coffee? (Spoiler alert: It’s Brazil). To help understand where your coffee comes from, we explore the 24 largest coffee producers in the world. Alongside their stats, we break down a little about each coffee country’s history, the growing regions, and what to expect from a cup of their coffee.
As baristas and generally coffee-obsessed, we focus on the best coffee countries in terms of quality. So there are a few “bigger” countries that we don’t break down in detail (though you can still see their stats) as it’s pretty rare to find single-origin coffee from these countries. Instead, they are used to make generic blends or instant coffee.
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The part of the coffee plant that we drink each morning, the coffee beans, are actually the seeds of the coffee cherry that grow on a tree.
The coffee tree is a tropical, evergreen shrub (genus Coffea) that grows between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. This area between the tropics is commonly referred to as “The Coffee Belt” with almost all coffee production worldwide taking place here.
Across this region, you’ll find 54 countries growing coffee in a wide range of different climates, landscapes, and soil types (collectively called “terroir”.) The specific “terroir” of any country or growing region has a big influence on the type and quality of coffee beans they grow and the flavor of that coffee.
Psst.. Want to understand more about the journey coffee beans take to get from the global coffee bean farms to your cup? Check out our article on where coffee comes from:
Globally, some nations are known for volume, some for quality. And some have a mix of both.
So this table breaks down the number of 60kg bags from the 33 largest producers of coffee. Plus we’ve sneaked Jamaica in at the end as whilst they’re tiny, the quality they produce is world-renowned. Click on the name of any country to jump to more detailed info below. Those without links mostly produce low-quality Robusta coffee beans so we’ve not gone into detail on them.
All of the production totals quoted in this article are for 2021/22, collated by the International Coffee Organization.
|No. of 60kg Bags
|Papua New Guinea
|Democratic Republic of Congo
1. Brazil – Largest Producer of Coffee
Coffee Varieties Grown: Arabica (mostly Bourbon, Catuaí, Acaiá, and Mundo Novo) and Robusta
Brazil’s Main Coffee Growing Regions: Minas Gerais, São Paulo, Bahia, Espírito Santo, Rondônia, Paraná
Brazilian Coffee Flavor Profile: Diverse variations between the growing regions but generally, the coffee beans will be full-bodied and low acidity with big chocolate and nut notes
If you’re looking for which country produces the most coffee, look no further than Brazil.
Brazil is the largest producer of coffee in the world by a long shot and has been for over 150 years. So, they kind of know what they’re doing.
The majority of coffee grown in Brazil is Arabica but Robusta accounts for around 30% of production. And, since the quantities of coffee produced are so large, they’re actually the leading global coffee exporters of Robusta despite it not being their main focus.
Coffee was first introduced to Brazil from French Guyana in 1727 whilst under Portuguese rule. And, very quickly, it became a huge and important cash crop.
Most of the growing regions are in the “Atlantic Forest” towards the south of the country, just inland from the coast.
Coffee Varieties Grown: 95% Robusta but growing popularity for Arabica (particularly Bourbon, Typica, and Catimor)
Vietnam’s Coffee Growing Regions: Predominantly in the Central Highlands, with smaller quantities from both North & South Vietnam
Vietnamese Coffee Flavor Profile: There is very little high-quality coffee produced by the Vietnamese coffee industry. Instead, it is mostly a bit flat, woody, and lacking in character.
Despite being the second-largest coffee producer in the world, Vietnamese coffee is mostly famous for being mixed with sweetened condensed milk (and/or egg), to make a real caffeinated treat. It’s like drinking smooth chocolate. But, it’s not known for the quality of its coffee beans alone.
However, this is slowly changing with more specialty Vietnamese coffee brands popping up.
It was the French who brought coffee to Vietnam in 1857 and farmed it under the plantation model.
Vietnam is incredibly long and thin, running roughly north to south. It experiences completely different weather patterns as you travel down the country. So you’ll mostly find coffee grown in the Central Highland regions, with a small amount of Arabica also grown in North Vietnam.
The topography means Robusta makes up 95% of the coffee production in Vietnam with only 5% being high-quality Arabica beans.
So, if you are wondering which country produces the most coffee, first ask whether you are looking for quantity or quality. Whilst Vietnam is undoubtedly one of the biggest coffee producers by volume, they aren’t in terms of quality whole-bean coffee. Though it’s definitely possible to order (many) delicious cups of coffee in Vietnam.
Coffee Varieties Grown: Arabica (predominantly Caturra, Castillo, Tabi, Pacamara, Typica, Bourbon, and Gesha)
Colombia’s Coffee Growing Regions: Cauca, Valle del Cauca, Tolima, Huila, Quindio, Risaralda, Narino, Caldas, Antioquia, Cundinamarca, Santander, North Santander, Sierra Nevada
Colombian Coffee Flavor Profile: Colombian coffee production is affected by varying growing conditions across the country. So, you can get everything from heavy and chocolatey to sweet, light, and fruity.
Coffee first arrived in Colombia in 1723 brought by the Jesuits (although there are other stories about its origin).
In the beginning, it wasn’t a popular crop. In fact, it wasn’t until the end of the 19th century that coffee became a significant export. Since then, Colombia has continued to grow to become one of the largest coffee producing countries in the world.
The main coffee-growing regions in Colombia run roughly southwest to northeast, to the east of the Cordillera Oriental mountains. To the west of these mountains is dense jungle, not suitable land for coffee farming.
Due to the unique geography of Colombia, there is massive variation in altitude and climate. Therefore, specific regions play a bigger factor than in most countries when it comes to the flavor of the beans.
Today, Colombia is renowned for producing outstanding-tasting coffee.
This is down, in part, to the advertising campaign by the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia featuring the fictional coffee farmer, Juan Valdez. The campaign was successful in making Colombia one of the most famous coffee countries worldwide.
Coffee Varieties Grown: 25% Arabica (including S795/ Jember, Tim Tim, Java, USDA 762, Catuai) and 75% Robusta
Indonesia’s Coffee Growing Regions: Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi, Flores, Bali
Indonesian Coffee Flavor Profile: The semi-washed coffee beans tend to be very big-bodied, earthy, spicy, and woody
The Indonesian coffee industry has had its struggles:
In 1969 the first coffee plants were lost in a flood. But, despite this setback, coffee exports from Indonesia started in 1711 by the Dutch East India Company (VOC). These exports were bound for Amsterdam where the coffee was sold for eye-watering prices.
Indonesia is renowned for being one of the best coffee countries in the world though the taste varies massively depending on which island it is from.
They also use a unique processing method called “Giling Basah” (or wet hulling). It’s a hybrid of wet and dry coffee processing methods and results in a pretty powerful taste.
Coffee production in Indonesia also includes Kopi Luwak (aka Luwak Coffee or Poop Coffee). This is coffee made from cherries that have been consumed by civet cats and then collected from the poop. The coffee ferments in the cat’s digestive tract and has to be separated from the fecal matter, processed, and dried.
Globally, Kopi Luwak is seen as a novelty and can sell for very high prices. But there are serious animal welfare issues in its production and we recommend you avoid it.
Coffee Varieties Grown: Arabica (mostly Heirloom varietals)
Ethiopia’s Coffee Growing Regions: Sidamo, Limu, Jima, Ghimbi/Lekempti, Harrar, Yirgacheffe
Ethiopian Coffee Flavor Profile: Coffee from Ethiopia offers a diverse range of flavors from floral bergamot and citrus to tropical fruit. Washed Ethiopian coffees are elegant and complex, whereas natural processed ones are intensely fruity and exciting.
Ethiopia is, most likely, the birthplace of coffee all the way back in the 9th century. So, a cup of Ethiopian coffee is a cup of history.
With exciting fruity flavors and a fascinating (if possibly mythical) history, Ethiopia is responsible for showing many people the variation in coffee flavor that is possible.
Coffee has been harvested from the wild for thousands of years in Ethiopia. And still is in some places today. There are also coffee plantations and “garden” coffees that are grown in individual homesteads.
Lately, there has been an internal move to sell more coffee as a blend of the many regions. But you can still easily find single-origin coffees from individual homesteads in Ethiopia if you’re willing to put in a bit of research.
Coffee Varieties Grown: Arabica (most commonly Lempira, Bourbon, Caturra, and Catuai)
Honduras’ Coffee Growing Regions: Copán, Montecillos, Agalta, Opalaca, Comayagua, El Paraiso
Honduran Coffee Flavor Profile: Most Honduran coffees have lively acidity and complex fruit
Honduras is the largest producer of coffee in Central America. Yet there’s surprisingly little information on coffee’s arrival to the country:
The first dated mention of coffee produced in Honduras is from 1804. So, coffee must have arrived in the late 18th century as it takes a few years to get a crop.
This makes Honduras fairly late to the coffee party. In fact, it wasn’t until the 21st century that coffee production really ramped up in a big way. But, despite the late start, they are now up there as one of the top coffee producing nations.
Whilst the terrain is ideal for coffee production, the weather in Honduras can cause issues with processing. This means that most Honduran coffees have to be mechanically dried which can cause the flavor to drop off very quickly.
Coffee Varieties Grown: 30% Arabica and 70% Robusta
India’s Coffee Growing Regions: Tamil Nadu, Pulney, Nilgiri, Shevaroy, Karnataka, Bababudangiri, Chikmagalur, Coorg, Manjarabad, Kerala, Travancore, Wayanad, Andhra Pradesh
Indian Coffee Flavor Profile: Indian coffees tend to be creamy, full-bodied, and low in acidity
When you ask yourself “Which country produces the most coffee?”, it’s unlikely that India is the first place to pop into your head. If anything, tea or the insanely delicious chai would be the more obvious front-runners for Indian hot drinks.
But India has been growing coffee since the 17th century. The coffee plant was first grown in the Karnataka region, just to the southeast of Goa. It wasn’t until the mid-19th century, under British colonial rule, that the coffee plantations in Southern India began to flourish.
Coffee rust was a big problem in India in the late 19th century, causing many plantations to switch to farming tea instead. Then, eventually, to the breeding of rust-resistant varietals.
Due to the export method from India, a process known as “monsooning” has become common. “Monsooned” coffee beans absorb a lot of moisture from the air before roasting. This process makes the beans very brittle but can result in intensely flavored coffees. The global coffee industry is divided as to whether these flavors are a good thing, or not.
Coffee Varieties Grown: Arabica (mostly Typica, Caturra, and Bourbon)
Mexico’s Coffee Growing Regions: Chiapas, Oaxaca, Veracruz
Mexican Coffee Flavor Profile: The diverse regions across Mexico produce a range of coffees from light, delicate, and floral to rich, sweet, and chocolatey.
Coffee first arrived in Mexico in the late 18th century. However, the wealth of mineral deposits in Mexico at the time meant that there wasn’t much drive to create coffee plantations initially.
The first Mexican coffee plantations were established near the Guatemalan border following a border dispute. This dispute allowed rich Europeans to buy huge tracts of land to grow coffee on.
Mexican coffee production ran as a plantation system until after the Mexican Revolution ended in 1920.
In 1972, the Mexican Coffee Institute (Instituto Mexicano del Cafe) was formed, providing real investment in coffee farming. It was so successful that some farms saw coffee production increases of 900%!
Today, most of the coffee in Mexico is grown in the southern half of the country and the diverse topography makes for a wide variety of styles.
Coffee Varieties Grown: Arabica (varied but includes Catimor, Pache, Bourbon, Typica, and Pacamara)
Peru’s Coffee Growing Regions: Cajamarca, Junin, Cusco, San Martin
Peruvian Coffee Flavor Profile: Soft, sweet, and full-bodied
Coffee arrived in Peru between 1740 and 1760 when the area was known as the “Viceroyalty of Peru” and was much larger than it is today.
Although the region is perfect for growing coffee on a large scale, all the coffee produced was consumed locally until 1887. At this time, exports commenced to England and Germany.
The Peruvian government was forced to give 2 million hectares of land to the British government after it defaulted on a loan in the early 1900s. One-quarter of this land was turned into plantations for growing crops, including coffee.
Now, following a politically tumultuous 20th century, more and more land is being dedicated to coffee growing. In fact, Peru is making moves on the largest coffee producers, starting with 62,000 hectares dedicated to coffee farming in 1980 to 95,000 hectares today.
Coffee Varieties Grown: Arabica (predominantly Typica, Caturra, Bourbon, Catuai, Pache, Maragogipe) and Robusta
Guatemala’s Coffee Growing Regions: San Marcos, Acatenango, Atitlán, Cobán, Nuevo Oriente, Huehuetenango, Fraijanes, Antigua
Guatemalan Coffee Flavor Profile: Depending on altitude, you will find a variety of taste profiles. From light, complex, and floral coffee to rich, full-bodied sweet coffee
It is widely believed that coffee was brought to Guatemala by the Jesuits around 1750. Although there are accounts of it being grown and served in the country from slightly earlier than that.
Initially, coffee didn’t take off as a cash crop. It wasn’t until after 1856, when the invention of chemical dyes greatly reduced the demand for indigo, which was the main cash crop at the time, that coffee got a look in.
The Guatemalan government used several schemes in the latter half of the 19th century to promote coffee growing. So, by 1890, coffee accounted for up to 90% of the country’s exports.
After the coffee price crash in 2001, many farmers moved into macadamia nut and avocado farming instead. But coffee remains an important part of the Guatemalan economy.
Thanks to a wide variety of altitudes for growing coffee, you can find a huge range of flavor profiles in whole bean coffee from Guatemala.
Coffee Varieties Grown: Arabica (70% is Caturra)
Nicaragua’s Coffee Growing Regions: Jinotega, Matagalpa, Nueva Segovia
Nicaraguan Coffee Flavor Profile: Clean acidity, fruity, and complex
In 1790, Catholic missionaries brought coffee to Nicaragua. And, initially, it was grown in gardens simply as a curiosity.
However, between 1840 and 1940 there was significant government and foreign investment in the Nicaraguan coffee industry. This created a Coffee Boom in Nicaragua, leading to the creation of huge foreign-owned farms and coffee became the principal export of the country.
The coffee price crash in the late 1990s caused 3 of the 6 largest banks in Nicaragua to collapse. This, combined with widespread damage from Hurricane Mitch in 1998, set back the coffee industry significantly.
Nowadays, Nicaraguan coffee production is highly focused on high-quality, single-origin coffee. Traceability is very high, so it’s possible to get single-farm Nicaraguan coffee.
12. Costa Rica
Coffee Varieties Grown: Arabica (mostly Caturra but can also find Typica, Catuai, Bourbon, Gesha, and Mundo Novo)
Costa Rica’s Coffee Growing Regions: Central Valley, West Valley, Tarrazu, Tres Rios, Orosi, Brunca, Turrialba, Guanacaste
Costa Rican Coffee Flavor Profile: Clean and sweet with a light body
The small country of Costa Rica has long been the darling of the specialty coffee industry thanks to its top-quality coffee production.
Coffee has been grown in the country since the early 19th century. But it was independence from Spain in 1821 that super-charged the Costa Rican coffee industry. From then on, the Costa Rican government played a leading role in promoting coffee growing.
Large investments from England resulted in the creation of the Anglo-Costa Rican Bank in 1863. This bank provided finance for the coffee industry to grow further.
Despite pressure to plant more high-yield varieties, Costa Rica’s focus on coffee bean quality has never wavered. And, with recent investments in small coffee processing mills, it is now possible to find micro-lot coffees from Costa Rica. This means you can sample the range of styles and flavors that the topography of Costa Rica has to offer.
Coffee Varieties Grown: Arabica (mostly Bourbon and Kent) and Robusta
Tanzania’s Coffee Growing Regions: Kilimanjaro, Arusha, Ruvuma, Mbeya, Tarime, Kigoma
Tanzanian Coffee Flavor Profile: Juicy berry flavors, lively acidity, and complexity
Stories of coffee’s history tell of the coffee plant moving from Ethiopia to Tanzania in the 16th century. The Haya people brought it with them and called it “amwani” (haya coffee).
In all likelihood, this original plant would have been a Robusta varietal.
Amwani is strongly intertwined with Tanzanian culture, with the coffee cherries being boiled and smoked for several days before being chewed.
At first, German and then British colonizers pushed for large coffee plantations. So, various regions replaced their food crops with coffee beans and began growing Arabica for export. But the Haya people resisted heavily as this clashed with their historical connection with coffee growing.
After gaining independence, the Tanzanian government pushed the coffee industry as a way to increase prosperity in the country. And, after some bumps, they allowed farmers to sell directly to exporters. This increased the price of coffee for the farmers and allowed thousands of small farms to operate successfully.
Now, around 90% of Tanzanian coffee is produced by 450,000 smallholder farmers. The coffee crops grown on these farms are 70% Arabica and 30% Robusta.
Coffee Varieties Grown: Arabica (popular varieties include SL28, SL34, K7, Typica, Batian, and Ruiru 11)
Kenya’s Coffee Growing Regions: Nyeri, Murang’a, Kirinyaga, Embu, Meru, Kiambu, Machakos, Nakuru, Kisii, Trans-Nzoia, Keioy & Marakwet
Kenyan Coffee Flavor Profile: Bright complex fruit, sweet with intense acidity
Despite being next door to Ethiopia, the “home of coffee”, coffee production came to Kenya relatively late. The first documented import of coffee is from 1893 when French missionaries brought coffee trees from the island of Reunion.
It is widely thought that it was the Bourbon varietal that was brought to Kenya and yielded its first crop in 1896.
Initially, coffee was grown on large estates under British colonial rule and exported to London to be auctioned off. Then, in 1933 the Coffee Act was passed. This moved the sale of coffee back to Kenya and established the Kenyan Coffee Board.
In 1934, the Kenyan auction system was created for the sale of coffee beans and is still used today.
But it wasn’t until the 1950s that the production of coffee was moved from the British landowners to Kenyan farmers. This resulted in a huge increase in income for Kenyan small holdings farmers.
Now, thanks to superb research and education, the Kenyan coffee industry is thriving with lots of high-quality plots. The combination of consistent grading systems and the auction sales method allows farmers who produce high-quality coffee to get a good price for their products.
15. Papua New Guinea
Coffee Varieties Grown: Almost entirely Arabica (Typica, Catimor, Caturra, and Mundo Novo) and Robusta
Papua New Guinea’s Coffee Growing Regions: Eastern Highlands, Western Highlands, Simbu Province
Papua New Guinean Coffee Flavor Profile: Sweetness and complexity with a buttery quality
Many people lump coffee from Papua New Guinea in with their biggest coffee producing neighbor, Indonesia. But this is unfair as they share relatively little when it comes to coffee.
Coffee production in Papua New Guinea has been a relatively recent development with commercial coffee growing only starting in the 1920s. The seeds for these first commercial farms were from the prestigious Blue Mountain region in Jamaica.
During the 1970s, the government tried to encourage all small farms to be run as cooperatives. But the volatility of coffee prices meant that the smallholder structure worked much better as they were more resilient to market forces.
Today, 95% of coffee farms in Papua New Guinea are smallholders, producing around 90% of the country’s coffee.
Although they grow almost entirely high-quality Arabica coffee in the Highland regions, many smallholders don’t have access to the necessary high-quality post-harvest facilities.
A lack of traceability down to the farm level makes the incentives for growing high-quality coffee unclear for many farmers. So while it is possible to get an excellent coffee from Papua New Guinea, it produces less than you might expect.
16. El Salvador
Coffee Varieties Grown: Arabica (three most popular varieties are Bourbon, Pacas, and Pacamara)
El Salvador’s Coffee Growing Regions: The mountain ranges of Apaneca-Ilamatepec, Alotepec-Metapan, El Balsamo-Quezaltepec, Tepeca-Chinameca, Cacahuatique, and Chichontepec Volcano
El Salvadoran Coffee Flavor Profile: Sweet and complex, soft acidity and great balance
The first commercial production of coffee in El Salvador was in the 1850s. At the time, indigo was the dominant crop. But, thanks to the invention of chemical dyes, indigo was rapidly losing value so the El Salvadoran government was looking for ways to replace indigo.
However, the land needed for coffee bean growth is different from indigo farming. So the rich landowners lobbied the government to pass laws that pushed poor farmers from their land. This allowed them to establish large coffee plantations at the expense of the poorest in the nation.
As large-scale coffee production required better infrastructure like roads and railways, investment was made throughout El Salvador. This benefitted the whole nation and helped position El Salvador as one of the best coffee countries for high quality.
Over time, El Salvador has continued to focus on heirloom varieties of coffee. And, combined with the volcanic soil, means it produces stunningly sweet and complex coffee.
It is possible to buy single-farm coffee from El Salvador and there are many micro-lots based on processing and varietal of coffee.
Coffee Varieties Grown: Arabica and Robusta
Ecuador’s Coffee Growing Regions: Manabi, Loja, El Oro, Zamora Chinchipe, Galapagos
Ecuadoran Coffee Flavor Profile: The best Ecuadoran coffees are sweet and complex with nice acidity
Arriving in the latter part of the 19th century, coffee in Ecuador didn’t really take off until after 1920. By this time, disease had ravaged much of the cocoa crop so many farmers moved into coffee farming instead.
Exports started to grow around 1935 and went from 220,000 (60kg) bags to around 1.8 million (60kg) bags in 1985.
The coffee price crash in the late 90s hit the Ecuadoran coffee industry hard. But it has since recovered, with coffee even surpassing oil, shrimp, and bananas in terms of exports.
Ecuador doesn’t have a great reputation for quality coffee as around 40% of production is Robusta. Plus, the population drinks a lot more instant coffee than fresh.
To try and reduce production costs, much of the Robusta coffee crop is dried on the trees before harvesting. Plus, around 83% of Ecuador’s exported coffee is naturally processed.
A large quantity of coffee exported from Ecuador goes to Colombia to be made into instant coffee. This is because it’s much cheaper for Colombian manufacturers to buy Ecuadoran coffee than the much more expensive Colombian coffee.
Thanks to the geography and climate of Ecuador, there is great potential to become one of the best coffee countries, producing exceptional whole bean coffee. (Who wouldn’t want to buy coffee from the Galápagos Islands?) It is for this reason that there is increasing investment in coffee.
Coffee Varieties Grown: Arabica (including Bourbon, Typica, Caturra, and Mundo Novo)
Venezuela’s Coffee Growing Regions: Western Region, West Central Region, North Central Region, Eastern Region
Venezuelan Coffee Flavor Profile: Sweet and rich with little acidity
Coffee was brought to Venezuela around 1730 by a Jesuit priest named Jose Gumilla. Historically, Venezuela was a huge producer of cocoa and tobacco on slave plantations and coffee farming followed a similar model.
Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, coffee production became more and more important. As cocoa production dropped off, Venezuela became one of the countries to produce the most coffee. In fact, they were responsible for a third of the world’s coffee.
But, with the discovery of oil, the nation’s economy became increasingly dependent on petroleum. And, as a result, the coffee industry suffered. Poor governance and strict regulations meant that Venezuela had to import most of its coffee from surrounding countries just to meet local consumption needs.
Recently, price-fixing and economic turmoil have damaged the Venezuelan coffee industry further. And now, not much coffee is exported today relative to their previous position, but they still maintain their position as one of the top 20 producers of coffee.
19. Dominican Republic
Coffee Varieties Grown: Arabica (including Typica, Bourbon, Pacas, Limani, and Catimor)
Dominican Republic’s Coffee Growing Regions: Barahona, Cibao, Cibao Altura, Juncalito, Neyba, San Jose de Ocoa, Azua, Valdesia
Dominican Coffee Flavor Profile: Mild with low acidity and a very clean finish (similar to coffee from nearby Puerto Rican)
In 1735 coffee was brought to the Spanish-controlled portion of the island known as Hispaniola – now the Dominican Republic.
By the end of the 18th century, it was the second most important crop, after sugar. But, until the revolution in 1791, it was farmed on huge slave plantations which were known for being particularly brutal, even by slavery’s horrific standards.
The southern mountain region of Valdesia became the primary growing region for coffee in the 19th century. However, by 1956, coffee from specific regions was being exported and the farmers in these regions became increasingly more organized, starting their own processing mills.
Price turmoil hit the coffee industry in the Dominican Republic, as it did around the world. So, many farms were forced to diversify into avocados and beans. Although most farmers retained at least some coffee in case prices did recover.
Relatively little of the coffee produced in the Dominican Republic is exported. In fact, the average person consumes 3kg (6.5lbs) of coffee per year which is higher than in places such as the UK.
Now, most coffee is exported by specific growing regions. Although it is possible to find single farms coffees if you’re looking for it.
Coffee Varieties Grown: Arabica (including Caturra, Catuai, Bourbon, Harrar, and POP3303/21)
Rwanda’s Coffee Growing Regions: Southern and Western Region, Eastern Region
Rwandan Coffee Flavor Profile: Fruity and fresh with notes of apples and berries
Coffee was introduced to Rwanda in 1904 by German missionaries. Although the country didn’t produce enough coffee to export it until 1917.
After WW1, control of Rwanda was handed to Belgium. This is why, historically, most Rwandan coffee exports have gone to Belgium.
Following the genocide in Rwanda which claimed the lives of around 1 million people, coffee has played a major role in the country’s recovery. As foreign aid streamed into the country, there was a focus on producing high-quality coffee and building washing stations.
Known as the Land of 1000 Hills, Rwanda has the perfect climate and geography for growing high-quality coffee.
In the past, there have been issues with soil degradation. But investment in education and good farming practices have allowed the Rwandan coffee industry to continue to grow with a focus on quality coffee production. In fact, Rwanda almost exclusively grows high-quality, washed Arabica coffee beans.
Coffee Varieties Grown: Arabica (predominantly Bourbon but also Jackson 2/1257 and Typica)
Burundi’s Coffee Growing Regions: Bubanza, Bujumbura Rural, Bururi, Chibitoke, Gitega, Karuzi, Kayanza, Kirundo, Makamba, Muramvya, Muyinga, Mwaro, Ngozi, Rutana
Burundian Coffee Flavor Profile: Juicy with complex berry flavors
Coffee was brought to Burundi in the 1920s by Belgian colonialists looking to use it as a cash crop. And, in 1933, they forced every “peasant” farmer had to cultivate at least 50 coffee trees.
In 1962, coffee production was privatized when Burundi gained independence. This all changed again in 1972 as the political climate in Burundi lurched to and fro.
But since 1991, coffee has slowly been moving back to the private sector.
The Burundi economy has been devastated over the years by a series of wars. So, coffee is seen as crucial for regrowth.
Coffee in Burundi is produced by a large number of smallholder farmers and then grouped at washing stations. This means that you’ll mostly find coffee from a growing region rather than a specific farm. Although there is a significant increase in micro-lot coffee and improved traceability in Burundi. So, in the future, we may be able to sample the flavors of individual coffee farms.
Coffee Varieties Grown: Arabica
Cuba’s Coffee Growing Regions: Sierra Maestra, Sierra del Escambray, Sierra Del Rosario
Cuban Coffee Flavor Profile: Heavy body and low acidity
Shortly after arriving on the neighboring island, Hispaniola, in the 1730s, coffee arrived in Cuba. In the beginning, there was very little interest in growing coffee. That was until an influx of French settlers, fleeing the Haitian revolution in 1791, settled on Cuba.
By 1827, there were 2000 coffee farms on Cuba and it generated more income than sugar production.
However, following Castros’s revolution there was a large drop in coffee production as many of those with knowledge of coffee farming fled the nation.
Coffee production did peak in the 1970s but trade embargos by the United States and the fall of the Soviet Union hit exports hard. Even today, coffee production in Cuba is relatively small.
Most exported Cuban coffee is washed and is only traceable down to a region or sub-region, at best. But most is consumed within the country as the beloved café cubano so it’s not exported at all.
Coffee Varieties Grown: Arabica (including the world-famous Geisha variety alongside Catuai, Caturra, Maragogype, Pacamara, and Mundo Novo)
Panama’s Coffee Growing Regions: Boquete, Volcan-Candela, Renacimiento
Panamanian Coffee Flavor Profile: Citrusy and floral, light-bodied with delicate, complex flavors
Although coffee arrived in Panama around the same time as many other Central American countries (the early 19th century), coffee farming never really took off. So, for a long time, Panama didn’t have a very good reputation as a coffee producing country.
In fact, they were only producing about 1/10 of their neighbor, Costa Rica.
Panama’s geography means there are several distinct microclimates and there are some very dedicated coffee growers committed to producing high-quality beans. This includes Panama geisha coffee which is famous for being the world’s most expensive coffee (in 2013).
Panamanian coffee tends to be more expensive due to higher real estate costs and improved wages for manual laborers. But the flavors almost always justify the higher price tag.
Coffee Varieties Grown: Arabica (almost exclusively Typica, known locally as Blue Mountain with smaller amounts of Geisha and Caturra)
Jamaica’s Coffee Growing Regions: Blue Mountain
Jamaican Coffee Flavor Profile: Clean and sweet with a good body, though rarely complex
A coffee plant was gifted to the Governor of Jamaica, Sir Nicholas Lawes, in 1728. Lawes had experimented with a few plants on the island and planted the coffee crops in the St Andrew area of the island.
Initially, coffee production was fairly limited. But in the latter half of the 18th-century, coffee production really boomed.
The abolition of the slave trade hit the Jamaican coffee industry hard. And issues with soil management further reduced the number of coffee farms and the quality of the coffee grown in Jamaica.
However, the formation of the Jamaican Coffee Board in 1950 started to reverse this trend and the coffee from the Blue Mountain region steadily gained a reputation as one of the finest coffees in the world.
Sadly, a lack of high-quality processing means Jamaican coffee struggles to compete with the best coffee countries of Africa or the Americas in terms of flavor. But they still produce a very enjoyable cup of coffee.
But issues of inequality still remain in the supply chain and there is environmental damage from unethical producers. So, it’s always important to ensure that your coffee has a transparent supply chain and that the money is going to those who deserve it, staying in the country of origin as much as possible.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of the largest coffee producing countries. In fact, there are many other great coffee countries, particularly in West and Central Africa, where Robusta grows very well.
However, Robusta coffee doesn’t have the complexity or interest of Arabica. So we have missed these coffee power-houses out to focus on which country produces the most coffee in terms of great quality.
Having learned a brief overview of the world’s biggest coffee producers, take the time to deep dive into the individual nations. And try out the coffee from each country – the more caffeine, the merrier.
- Coherent Market Insights (March 2023), Coffee Market Analysis, Available at: https://www.coherentmarketinsights.com/market-insight/coffee-market-5615 (Accessed December 2023)
- Drive Research (July 2023), Coffee Statistics: Consumption, Preferences, & Spending, Available at: https://www.driveresearch.com/market-research-company-blog/coffee-survey/ (Accessed December 2023)
- International Coffee Organization (April 2023), Coffee Report and Outlook (CRO), Available at: https://icocoffee.org/documents/cy2022-23/Coffee_Report_and_Outlook_April_2023_-_ICO.pdf (Accessed November 2023)
- James Hoffmann (2018), The World Atlas of Coffee, Octopus
- World Coffee Research, Our Work, Available at: https://worldcoffeeresearch.org/work (Accessed November 2023)
- Fairtrade Foundation (2020), Coffee farmers, Available at: https://www.fairtrade.org.uk/farmers-and-workers/coffee/ (Accessed April 2021)
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