British Coffee Association - Find out the origins of coffee
Origins of Coffee

Origins of Coffee

There are over 80 producing/growing countries in the world, and more than 70 are represented by the International Coffee Organisation  Some of these countries are listed below.


Brazil is the largest producer and exporter of coffee and the second largest coffee-consuming nation. Its coffee trade employs over five million people and contributes 30% of the world’s total coffee supply.


Colombia is the third largest coffee supplier with a market share of 10%. Colombian coffees are famous for their body and depth. They are produced in three mountain ranges, Cordilleras, which form part of the northern Andes.

Costa Rica

The coffee flavours in Costa Rica are delicate and have a subtle acidity. It is suggested that Costa Rican coffee can be best appreciated when it is prepared using filter or cafetière coffee makers.

Côte D'Ivoire

The coffee grown in Côte D’Ivoire (the Ivory Coast) on the west coast of Africa, Robusta, is a stronger flavoured bean containing more caffeine than the higher altitude grown Arabica. Coffees from the Côte D’Ivoire are strongly aromatic with a light body and acidity.


It is believed that the Arabica coffee tree originated in Ethiopia where some may still be discovered growing wild. This country produces some of the world’s most unusual coffees.


Hawaii is the only state of the United States in which coffee is commercially grown.


The southern half of Guatemala is dominated by the Sierra Madre. The high mountain range creates a perfect climate for coffee cultivation. In extreme weather conditions, Guatemalans burn rubbish near the plantations, a cultivation process developed by German immigrants. The dense smoke protects the trees from frost. This produces a smoky flavour in the beans.


Although long associated with tea, India is one of the world’s oldest coffee growing nations. During the early 1600's a pilgrim to Mecca, whose name was Baba Budan, smuggled some coffee beans out of Arabia, concealed in his robes, and grew them in India.


Production came early to Indonesia when the Dutch introduced coffee growing to Java in the mid-seventeenth century. The heavy, rich flavour of these coffees carries through the addition of milk or cream.


Blue Mountain coffee is coffee from the eastern parishes of St. Thomas, Portland and St. Andrews, produced at over 5,000 feet above sea-level. Increasing demand has resulted in the scarcity of this unique coffee and this is reflected in the price, which is higher than average.


Kenyan coffees are famous for their bright, lively flavours, rich aromas and high quality.


Mexico is one of the world’s largest coffee producers although the crop is grown mainly on small farms. Mexican coffee is characteristically smooth and mellow.


The climate and soil structure in Peru offer tremendous possibilities for producing fine coffee.


The local coffee, named Chagga, is produced by the Wa-Chagga people living and farming on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. It was discovered by Mr H.R. Higgins just after the end of the Second World War. He was attracted to the full bodied flavour, which is less acidic than Kenyan coffees.


Vietnam is the second major coffee producing country, providing 20% of the world’s coffee. Nearly all coffee grown in Vietnam is of the Robusta variety. One of the most expensive and sought-after coffees comes from Vietnam – ‘caphe cut chon’ or ‘fox dung coffee’ – made from coffee beans that have been eaten and ‘passed through’ the civet cat (which looks like a fox).


The world’s oldest cultivated coffee is grown on mountain terraces at altitudes exceeding 4,500 feet. The coffee is grown using rainwater irrigation, dried naturally and without the use of chemicals. Yemeni beans are characterised by their medium to full body and overtones of chocolate and cherries.


The Chihosa Estate is situated in the eastern highlands of Zimbabwe at 5,600 feet above sea level and has been run, since 1990, by the Cugnet family. The coffee has a rich, full character with mild acidity.