Did you know that Ivory Coast was one of the first major coffee producers in the world?
Origin of coffee in the Ivory Coast
Coming back to the origins of coffee in Ivory Coast, we must talk about the following key moments:
Coffee was introduced to Ivory Coast thanks to the French colonizers, thanks in particular to one of them named Arthur Verdier. Farmers began growing small amounts of Liberica, a rare variety of coffee originally from Liberia that had little commercial potential.
The coffee variety Robusta comes from Java and the Congo.
Only 33% of the acreage in Côte d’Ivoire is planted with coffee, the remaining 67% with cocoa.
More than 7000 hectares are used for coffee cultivation.
Côte d’Ivoire becomes independent from France.
Ivorian President Félix Houphouët-Boigny created the Fund for the Stabilization and Support of Agricultural Production Prices to defend coffee selling prices, so that a minimum purchase price for coffee farmers could be set each year.
The Arabusta variety is being cultivated for the first time after the country’s president, Félix Houphouet-Boigny, asked growers to breed a new coffee with a milder and sweeter taste than the Robusta variety. Thus, the Arabusta was marketed as the “presidential coffee”.
1960 – 1970
Coffee production in Côte d’Ivoire doubles from 185,500 tons to 275,000 tons.
Côte d’Ivoire becomes the largest producer in Africa and the third largest in the world, behind Brazil and Colombia.
Coffee production in Côte d’Ivoire peaks with a total of 380,000 tons of coffee beans, almost all of which are of the Robusta variety.
2002 – 2011
Two civil wars lead to a significant drop in coffee production.
The first civil war begins in Côte d’Ivoire.
The second civil war breaks out in Côte d’Ivoire.
Ivorian President Laurent Gnabo announces the nationalization of the country’s coffee and cocoa production.
Reuters reports that the Ivorian government has invested 8 billion CFA francs (US$15 million) to increase annual production to 400,000 tons by 2020.
The government of Côte d’Ivoire has not achieved its goal of increasing coffee production by 400%.
Coffee production in Côte d’Ivoire
Côte d’Ivoire mainly grows Robusta coffee, which thrives at altitudes between 300 and 400 m above sea level. The African country also produces Arabusta, a hybrid of Arabica and Robusta grown in the mountainous regions around the Man department.
However, there are very few growers who grow Arabusta, despite the fact that this variety is highly sought after for its properties of combining the strength of Robusta and Arabica with floral aromas. This is mainly because the plant grows much more slowly than the Robusta variety.
The Arabusta takes almost two years to bear fruit, although it is worth noting that Arabusta plants can live much longer than Robusta plants for this. This is very important as they can represent a larger source of income which then extends over generations.
The table below shows the green coffee production in Côte d’Ivoire from 1961 to 2022.
|Year||Production in 60 kilo bags||Change|
|1961||3134||N / A|
In which regions is coffee grown in Côte d’Ivoire?
The main coffee growing areas in Côte d’Ivoire are Aboisso, Divo and Abengourou. All 3 regions are at an altitude of 300 and 400 meters above sea level, too low for the Arabica variety but ideal for a good Robusta coffee.
Located about 100 km northwest of the capital.
Located 200 km northwest of Abidjan, the country’s largest and economically strongest city.
Located 100 km northwest of Aboisso.
Most of the coffee farms there are in a state of complete neglect. Therefore, the plants are old and produce coffee of very low quality and in small quantities.
Here is the headquarters of the National Agricultural Research Center (CNRA).
Cocoa is also the most important source of income for farmers in the region.
Other coffee-growing regions in the Côte d’Ivoire
On the Ivory Coast there are other coffee growing areas such as Gagnoa, Danané, Man, Bongouanou, Dalao, Dimbokro, Agboville, Sassandra, Soubré and San Pedro. In most of these regions, however, little coffee is grown, as crops such as coconut, palm oil, cassava, bananas and pineapples predominate.
Coffee flavors in Côte d’Ivoire
Please note that Ivorian coffee can have the following flavors:
Chocolate: A large amount of Ivory Coast coffee beans can give the coffee a chocolate aroma that is not very intense but recognizable.
Spice: Coffee from Ivory Coast has a certain spice flavor that can vary depending on the roasting time.
Nutty: Like many coffee beans, Ivory Coast coffee has a nutty flavor that is more pronounced on lighter roasts than on darker roasts, where the nutty flavor is masked.
Bitter: Ivory Coast coffee has a bitter taste regardless of roast, but it is more pronounced with a dark roast.
Is it difficult to buy Ivorian coffee?
Ivory coffee is typically shipped to countries like the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom of England, Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, Italy, and France.
It is difficult to get coffee from Ivory Coast as the country only exports Robusta beans, which are usually mixed with other types of coffee afterwards.
The easiest way to taste Ivory Coast coffee is to buy the green coffee beans and roast them yourself.
However, there are some coffee alternatives that taste similar to Ivory Coast coffee beans and are more readily available in the various coffee shops; here are some of them:
Coffee blend – Go Africa
Size: 12 oz
Producer: Go Africa
- Contains African coffee beans.
- Has a very pleasant chocolate taste.
Robusta – Nguyen Coffee Supply
Size: 12 oz
Producer: Nguyen Coffee Supply
- This is a high-quality coffee.
- It does not contain any additives such as fillers or artificial ingredients.
- Nguyen Coffee Supply is the first and largest Vietnamese-American owned importer and roaster of Vietnamese coffee beans in New York.
- It doesn’t have the same level of bitterness as traditional Vietnamese coffee.
AA Peaberry Coffee from Kenya – Memories of Africa
Species: Kenya AA
Size: 16 ounces
Manufacturer: Memories of Africa
- It has a fairly mild flavor with hints of chocolate.
Worth knowing about the coffee in the Ivory Coast.
- After the Second World War, coffee production increased significantly: from 36,000 tons in 1945 to 112,500 tons in 1958.
- Côte d’Ivoire is no longer among the top coffee producers in the world and is currently ranked 14th. The civil war severely impacted the industry and it is only now beginning to recover.
- The coffee-growing areas are mainly in the north-west of the country.
- Between 1945 and 1962, coffee production in Côte d’Ivoire increased 20-fold.
- The Robusta variety grows in Côte d’Ivoire in the shade of cocoa trees.
- Ivory Coast ranks fifth in the ranking of countries selling Robusta.
- In Côte d’Ivoire, more than 300,000 people are employed in the coffee industry.
- The main problems facing coffee farmers in Côte d’Ivoire are war, crop diseases, crop senescence, weather disasters and climate change.
- France and Italy are historically the two countries to which most of the Ivorian coffee crop was sold. These countries are always willing to buy coffee beans from local growers.
- The state coffee and cocoa council is trying to rejuvenate the coffee plantations.
- Côte d’Ivoire has over 20 million inhabitants.
- Côte d’Ivoire’s main agricultural exports are cocoa beans, palm oil, coffee and tropical timber.
- Côte d’Ivoire is the world’s largest exporter of cocoa. This product is an important source of income for civil and military service.
- Arabusta coffee is sold in Ivorian shops at three to four times the price of Robusta coffee.
- Felix Houphouët – Boigny was the first President of Ivory Coast from 1960 until his death in 1993.
- Ivory Coast borders several countries including Liberia, Guinea, Mali, Ghana and Burkina Faso.
- The coffee plants in Côte d’Ivoire thrive all year round.
- Many people feel that the coffee quality in Côte d’Ivoire has deteriorated due to the government’s increased focus on cocoa production.
- Most coffee farmers in Côte d’Ivoire only grow small quantities and therefore have to join cooperatives so that they can transport and sell the coffee to larger cities.
- The classification system in Côte d’Ivoire plays an important role in identifying the quality of the coffee beans produced. Grade 0 is the highest quality, while Grade 2 is the lowest quality.
- Farmers in Côte d’Ivoire can harvest up to 250 kg of coffee per hectare in an artisanal way, mainly between August and January.
- The rainfall in Côte d’Ivoire is no less than 3000 mm, which is ideal for coffee growing.
- As with the coffee beans in Cameroon, most coffee in Côte d’Ivoire is processed naturally, which puts less strain on water resources than washed processing.
- The Ivorian coffee is packed in well-ventilated bags to avoid spoilage due to condensation.
- Due to poor quality controls during processing and other post-harvest issues, the coffee produced in Côte d’Ivoire has a large number of defects. As a result, many buyers avoid buying this coffee.
- The Ivorian Coffee and Cocoa Committee is an institutional body based in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. It is responsible for regulating the coffee and cocoa industry by, among other things, managing exports, setting prices and modernizing production.
- 90% of the coffee produced in Côte d’Ivoire is Robusta.
- The coffee industry in Côte d’Ivoire generated sales of around 24 million US dollars in 2021.
- In Côte d’Ivoire, the coffee and cocoa sector is the largest contributor to agricultural GDP.
- The National Investment Bank (BNI) will provide a 186 billion-franc ($278 million) credit line to support Ivorian coffee and cocoa exporters for the 2022/2023 season, according to Jerôme Ahua, the financial institution’s deputy director general.
- The coffee harvest in Côte d’Ivoire is done by hand. After the berries have been picked, they are peeled, dried and then sorted. Côte d’Ivoire mainly exports unroasted (green) coffee.
- The Ivorian coffee beans for export are packed with a moisture content of 11-12%.
- Export of 800,000 bags with 60 kg by the end of the 2022 – 2023 period.
Is there a coffee culture in Côte d’Ivoire?
There is no really established coffee culture in Côte d’Ivoire, especially outside of the big urban centers. So, coffee consumption is more related to socioeconomic status. Low-income people are more likely to drink black coffee or instant coffee, while those with higher purchasing power are more likely to consume coffee capsules such as Nespresso, as they consider them to be the highest quality coffee.
On the other hand, there is also no clear information about the preparation and roasting of coffee, resulting in a very limited number of preparations.
However, in Abidjan, the largest city in the country, efforts are gradually being made to improve the coffee culture among the residents as some specialized coffee shops have opened recently, such as: B. Bondin Coffee Shop with the slogan “African coffee roasted by Africans for Africans” where Arabusta is roasted and served to show residents and visitors the quality of the local coffee.
Challenges for the coffee industry in Côte d’Ivoire
In Côte d’Ivoire there are a number of challenges that need to be addressed if coffee is to regain prominence, as outlined below:
- Growers and processors need educational programs to better utilize their resources and identify market opportunities. Illiteracy is a major disadvantage as most producers cannot read or write.
- The political unrest in Côte d’Ivoire must end if the coffee industry is to reclaim its place among the world’s elite.
- The established coffee farmers have to invest in modernizing the harvesting machines.
- Quality controls in natural processing need to be improved.
The coffee from Côte d’Ivoire has not been at its best in recent years due to the numerous political conflicts in the country.
Nonetheless, this coffee has historically proven to be among the best in the world, which is why, against all odds, expect the coffee industry to grow and increase coffee production in this incredible African country in the years to come.