The Coffee Farmer and the Coffee Producer – What is the difference?

Coffee grower and coffee producer are two terms commonly used in the coffee industry. They describe the coffee production and the people involved in the processing. However, there is often confusion as to what these terms actually mean and whether there is a difference between them.

Difference between coffee farmer and coffee producer

In order to clarify the difference between coffee grower and coffee producer, it is important to understand the different stages of coffee production.

Coffee production involves a range of activities, from planting and caring for the coffee trees to harvesting and processing the coffee cherries. Each of these activities requires specific skills and knowledge, and different people may be involved at different stages of the production process.

Who is a coffee farmer?

A coffee farmer is usually responsible for growing coffee trees. This includes tasks such as planting and caring for the crops, applying fertilizer and pesticides, and pruning to maintain their health and productivity.

Coffee farmers can also be involved in the coffee cherry harvest, where the ripe cherries are picked from the trees and prepared for processing.

Coffee farmers fall into two main categories:

  • Small farmers and
  • Commercial farmers

Smallholders are typically farmers who own a small piece of land and grow coffee as their main source of income. You can also grow other crops such as corn, grain or fruit and have family members help you with the farming. Commercial farmers, on the other hand, grow coffee on a larger scale and focus solely on coffee production.

What are coffee producers?

Coffee producers, on the other hand, are responsible for processing the coffee cherries after they have been harvested. This includes tasks such as:

  • Removing the outer layers of the cherry to reveal the coffee beans
  • Drying the beans
  • Sort by quality

Coffee producers can also be involved in the marketing and sale of coffee, either by selling directly to customers or by working with intermediaries such as green coffee merchants or coffee roasters.

What is the difference between a coffee farmer and a coffee producer?

Coffee farmers are responsible for growing coffee trees, while coffee producers are responsible for processing the coffee cherries after they are harvested. Although these two tasks may overlap in some cases, they are different and require different skills and knowledge.

Geography can also influence the distinction between farmers and producers. In East African countries like Ethiopia and Kenya, farmers are often responsible for all aspects of coffee production, including planting, harvesting, and post-harvest processing. In Latin American countries like Colombia, producers can also be responsible for these tasks. If we confuse these terms, we run the risk of misjudging the respective role.

It should also be noted that smallholder farmers make up an important part of the world coffee economy. They often face problems such as low prices, limited access to credit and technology, and a lack of infrastructure.


It is important to distinguish between coffee farmers and coffee producers as both play a crucial role in the coffee supply chain. Farmers provide the raw material for coffee production, while producers convert the raw material into a finished product ready for sale. With the support and recognition of both coffee farmers and coffee producers, it is possible to ensure a sustainable and thriving coffee industry.