Top 10 Coffee Producing Countries

Django Coffee CO: Top 10 Coffee Producing Countries

01/09/16

Coffee has never before been held in such high regard as it is today. All over the world producers aim to grow the best green coffee, coffee roasters persevere in their quest to find the perfect roast profile and baristas aspire to concoct the perfect flat white. 2.25 million cups of coffee are consumed globally around the world on a daily basis whilst the UK alone spent £730 million on the beverage last year. [1] 

With the recent explosion of the "third wave" coffee scene, the speciality coffee market has been responsible for consumers buying and drinking coffee based on the quality and taste rather than the quick hit to wake up and function in a morning. Today coffee is in very high demand and can fetch premium prices. The coffee drinker today wants to know the origins, the processes involved and the effects these processes have on the overall taste and quality of their cup. 

So where does our coffee come from?

The majority of coffee is grown in countries that lie between The Tropic of Capricorn and The Tropic of Cancer, known as The Coffee Belt. Within the Coffee Belt, the growing regions typically offer a climate of moderate sunshine and rain with steady temperatures of around 20 degrees Celsius, optimum conditions for growing coffee. So what are the top 10 coffee producing countries?

10. Guatemala: 204,000,000 kilos

This very small country has a population of just 15 million people spread over an area of 108,890 km2 and yet produced 204,000,000 kilos of coffee in 2015, just sneaking into the top 10. Most of the coffee from Guatemala is grown at altitudes of 2000 metres in the volcanic and fertile regions of Atiitlan, Antigua, Acatennengo and Fraijanes.

9. Mexico: 234,000,000 kilos 

Most of the coffee in Mexico is grown near the border of Guatemala in the South in the growing regions of Chiapas, Oaxaca and Veracruz. In the year 2000 Mexico accounted for 60% of the worlds coffee production, [2] however this has decreased dramatically in recent years although Mexico still sits a respectable 9th in the league. The US imports more Mexican coffee than any other country in the world. 

8. Uganda: 285,000,000 kilos

Uganda is not one of the first countries that springs to mind when you think about coffee, but it is 8th in the list, exporting 285,000,000 kilos last year. This central African country is also the 2nd largest exporter of coffee in Africa, however the majority of its exported coffee is Robusta and so this is the reason why Ugandan coffees are quite difficult to find within the speciality coffee scene. [3]

7. Honduras: 345,000,000 kilos

Honduras has endured a torrid time over the years with poverty, civil unrest, gangs and violence, however its coffee cultivation has continued to grow and Hondurans are immensely proud of their high quality Arabica coffee production. The main coffee growing regions of Honduras include: Copan, Agalta, Montecillos and El Paraiso. In 2015, this small country of just 112,492 km2 and a population of only 8 million people [4] exported 345,000,000 kilos of coffee.

6. India: 349,000,000 kilos

Synanamous with the drinking of tea, India is not renown for its production of coffee but its still was resposnsible for 349,000,000 kilos of green coffee beans in 2015 which ranks it 6th in our top 10 list. The main growing regions of India are situated in the south of the country and include Karnataka, Kerela and Tamil Nadu. Most of India's coffee is grown under shaded canopy's in monsoonal conditions often alongside spicies such as Cardamon and Cinnamon. [5] These conditions generally give the Indian coffee a heavy, creamy full bodied taste with low acidity and a spicy taste and aroma. [6]

5. Ethiopia: 384,000,000 kilos

Many view Ethiopia as the birthplace of coffee and arguably Yirgacheffe is the area that produces one of the best coffees worldwide. In 2015, Ethiopia exported 384,000,000 kilos of coffee. The growing regions in the south such as Sidamo, Yirgacheffe, and Harrar produce quality green beans and are held in very high regard by coffee aficionados. These areas are at altitudes of between 1400-2200 metres which give diverse flavours ranging from citrus, ripened fruit and floras tastes and aromas. [6] The story of how coffee came to be discovered in Ethiopia is a very interesting one involving goats and can be found here. 

4. Indonesia: 660,000,000 kilos

Coffee was introduced to Indonesia by the Dutch in the 17th Century making Indonesia one of the first countries to grow coffee on a commercial scale. The many islands that make up the country have their own characteristics of flavours and aromas in the coffee produced due to a variety of growing conditions found on found on different islands.  The most famous coffee growing Indonesian islands are Java, Sumatra and Indonesia which together account for over 7% of the worlds coffee production alone, [3] which was part of the 660,000,000 kilos Indonesia exported in 2015.

3. Colombia: 810,000,000 kilos

Coffee is one of Colombia's most famous exports and is certainly one of its most popular, earning it the right to feature in the Top 3.  Colombian coffee has large range of flavours due to the variety of regions affecting the flavour profiles. The long strip of producing regions that runs along the north-to-south slice of the Andes gives rise to a broad range of Arabica styles. [3] Flavours range from heavier, chocolate coffees through to jamey, sweet, fruity lots. [6] Colombian was second to Brazil in the list until being knocked off its perch by Vietnam in recent times. From An increase in temperature and rainfall has had an effect on the type of coffee beans that are produced, but despite this, Colombia still managed to export 810,000,000 kilos in 2015. [5]

2. Vietnam: 1,650,000,000 kilos

Vietnam is a major producer of coffee and has recently knocked Colombia into third, exporting 1,650,000,000 kilos of coffee in 2015. However the quality of coffee being exported has limited marketability as it is the Robusta bean that is mass produced by Vietnamese coffee growers. Out of all the coffee Vietnam exported last year, 97% was Robusta which does not feature favourably within the speciality coffee scene. [7] 

Coffee was introduced to the country in the 19th Century by the French and a processing plant manufacturing instant coffee was fully functional by 1950. [8] The main growing regions are situated in and around the Central Highlands where the coffee is grown on large plantations often controlled by big multinational companies. [6] 

1. Brazil: 2,594,100,000 kilos

Brazil is the big dog, the top producer of coffee in the world, almost doubling the the amount of kilos produced by its closest competitor. It has held the this title for over 150 years and grows around one third of the worlds coffee. [6] Unlike Vietnam, Brazils coffee production turns out a variety to suit all markets, from the mass produced that rank amongst the worlds cheapest, to the worlds finest and most prized coffees. [9] Brazilian coffee flavour profiles tend to be lower in acidity, heavy bodied and sweet with chocolate and nutty flavours.

Brazils most recognised growing regions spread over seven states with the majority located in the eastern part of the country. The main Arabica growing state that is associated with the speciality coffee markets is Minas Gerais which accounts for nearly 50% of the countries production. Other states include Sao Paulo, Espirito Santo, Bahia, Parana and Rondonia all of which have their own individual growing regions. [10]