What’s behind the cup of coffee you drink every morning?
A massive industry present on all continents and benefiting many developing countries. Coffee is the main agricultural product of several regions around the globe and is unique in each place.
So, who are the largest coffee producers in the world, and what makes them stand out? We will tell you right away.
Table of Contents
Origins of Coffee
The origins of this beloved drink are not yet very clear.
However, according to historians, coffee originates in Africa, in the province of Kaffa, known today as Ethiopia. It is thought that the first plants were born in that region but it was in Arabia that the grains were ground and roasted for the first time.
From there it expanded through the Middle East, Africa, and Europe until it reached the rest of the world years later.
The Coffee Industry
The coffee industry represents one of the most important sectors for many countries as it is one of the most significant contributors to the economy. It boosts the growth and development not only of agriculture but also of the whole country. That is why it is not surprising that globally it plays such an important role, being one of the most exported agricultural products.
Approximately 400 million cups of coffee are drunk annually worldwide.
Also, it is curious to see that coffee is produced mainly in developing countries, but the largest consumers are on the European continent. In this case, Finland leads in the first place. According to Nordic Coffee Culture, a Finnish inhabitant consumes about 12 kg of coffee per year.
Currently, coffee is produced in more than 70 countries, but the largest producers in the world are in the American continent, Africa, and Southeast Asia. It is mainly in these 3 regions where 70% of the world’s coffee crops are located.
You must be wondering now, what countries are we talking about? Hence, I present you below the top 10 of the world’s largest coffee producers and exporters.
The 10 largest coffee producers and exporters in the world
There is no exact date of the arrival of coffee in Peru, but it is believed that it was around the 18th century, when it arrived in America.
Thanks to the geographical advantage and the climate of the country, it was possible to have several coffee-producing regions. The most notable are: Chanchamayo, Cusco, Moyobamba, Jaén, and Huánuco.
It currently grows mainly high-quality Arabica coffee and produces approximately 4.3 million bags of beans. It is also well known for its organic coffee.
As for any Latin country, in Mexico coffee is one of the most important beverages both economically and culturally.
This drink came from Europe to stay in Mexico at the end of the 18th century. And the main regions where it is grown are Veracruz, Chiapas, Puebla, Oaxaca, Guerrero, and Hidalgo. On arrival, thanks to the ideal conditions offered by the country’s tropical climate, the grains were able to adapt easily and be grown without inconvenience.
Today Mexico mainly grows high-quality Arabica coffee and produces approximately 4.5 million bags of beans. The US market is its main buyer and consumer.
Uganda is located in Africa, the continent in which coffee was born, and is considered one of the main producers of that region.
The coffee here grew even long before the arrival of the Arabs to the continent and was found as a wild shrub of the Robusta variety. At that time the inhabitants used it for its medicinal properties and the beans were chewed, not prepared as an infusion.
It is currently known for producing mainly Robusta variety coffee. However, the Arabica variety was introduced to the country some time ago and is also harvested today. The main areas where coffee is grown are around Lake Victoria, in the West Nile region, and the southwest of the country.
Today the country faces several challenges related to the promotion of coffee internationally since it is still a traditional activity carried out on farms of a few hectares by small and medium producers. This is why different programs and actions are currently being developed to further boost this sector.
As in many countries, the history of coffee in India is a mix of facts and tales.
It is said that a long time ago, more or less by the 1600s, coffee was already a regularly consumed and very popular drink in the Middle East because of its effects and taste. However, only the roasted beans could be marketed so that it could not be grown elsewhere. According to the story, a saint from India named Baba Budan managed to get some seeds and brought them to his country. It is said that these were the beginnings of coffee growing in the country.
Today, the coffee of India is unique in several respects. The coffee is 100% shade-grown and selected by hand. In addition, the unique mountains and territory with biological diversity allow India to be one of the few countries in the world that can grow and produce almost the entire range of coffees in significant quantities: Arabica and Robusta, washed and natural.
The estimate of India’s coffee production for 2019/2020 is about 5.5 million 60-kg bags of beans, mainly of the arabica variety.
It is considered the cradle of coffee.
According to the story, a goat shepherd named Kaldi is said to have one day seen how the animals had an exalted behavior after having eaten one of the fruits of what would be a coffee tree. The Shepherd then collected a few fruits and took them with the abbot to find out why that had happened to his goats. He found nothing unusual so he tried to make an infusion by boiling the cherries. However, when he drank it, it didn’t taste good, so he threw them into the fire.
It was at that moment when the contact of cherries with fire let out their aroma and gave rise to what today we call coffee.
Today, Ethiopia is regarded as one of the producers of authentic coffee of the best quality worldwide. It produces about 7.6 million sacks of arabica coffee beans. The main regions where it is grown are Yirgacheffe and Gedeo.
The country exports a significant amount of coffee, however, has marketing problems mainly due to the pressure of multinational companies.
The exact date on which coffee arrived in Honduras is not known, but the first records of the appearance of this crop in the country date back to 1801. It is believed that the first beans were brought from other countries of Central America, which were sown in a village located in Olancho and which as in other cultures had originally medicinal use.
Today Honduras produces exclusively coffee of 100% Arabica variety. In fact, the country’s coffee growers refuse to plant the robusta variety, since they consider that such a mixture would be negative.
Coffee came to this country thanks to the Dutch, who introduced it in Jakarta back in the 17th century. Soon after, with the support of the Netherlands, coffee production in the country grew rapidly.
Due to the geography of the country, the most cultivated variety in Indonesia is the robusta, although Arabica crops exist also in a smaller proportion. The main areas in which coffee is grown are Sumatra island, which concentrates approximately 60% of the country’s production, and the island of Java, where 12% of coffee is produced and high-quality arabica beans are grown.
Indonesian coffee is characterized by its low acidity, by having herbaceous flavors with various flavor notes of tobacco and chocolate, and by having a strong body. It is because of this and other reasons that several of the best coffees in the world are produced in this country.
Today around 10.7 million sacks of coffee are produced.
The great tradition of coffee in Colombia is because the Jesuits brought it by the 18th century. It is said that it happened thanks to the priest Francisco Romero, who ordered the believers who were confessing to sow coffee as a penance to redeem their sins. Later, this crop was mainly thriving in large farms and haciendas until its production increased to such an extent that, by the 19th century, coffee was the main export product of the country.
Currently, Colombia is recognized worldwide not only for being one of the largest producers and exporters of coffee (14.8 million sacks), but also for its excellent quality and exquisite taste.
Arabica is the most cultivated and marketed variety, which stands out by being soft and delicate with notes of fruity, floral aroma, and acidity. Anyway, Colombian coffee varies by region of cultivation.
Learn more about the top-rated brands in our blog Top Colombia Coffees.
Another aspect that distinguishes the quality of Colombian coffee is the institutionality it has through the National Federation of Coffee Growers. This is an entity created to reflect the commitment and guarantee the quality of the coffee that is produced in the country.
Little is heard about Vietnam as a major producer and exporter of coffee, yet it is one of the largest and most important in the world, ranking second on the list.
Coffee came to the country thanks to the French. But it was later, after the disasters left by the Vietnam War, that coffee had a more prevailing role in the country. He was one of the main drivers of the economy and helped to lower the poverty line later on.
Vietnam began to produce coffee on a large scale and became the livelihood of many inhabitants, especially for small and medium-sized producers. Its economy is based on the cultivation of robusta coffee, being the largest producer and exporter of this type of coffee worldwide.
It currently accounts for 96% of national production, although recently the cultivation of Arabica coffee is increasing. Even though robusta coffee is known to be of low quality, the cultivation process in the country makes this increase. Also, as a fun fact, instant coffee is mainly made with this variety.
Production is expected to reach 30.5 million sacks of coffee by 2019-2020.
Brazil is not only the giant of Latin America but also that of coffee as it is the largest producer and exporter worldwide. It produces a record of around 41.1 million 60-kg sacks of coffee per year.
In the country, coffee is not only an important product for the national economy but also a fundamental aspect of its culture since Brazil is a coffee country by nature. As in many Latin American countries, it is drunk in the morning, during the day, or after a meal or dinner. It is a time of day when you spend time with friends or family to talk, chat, laugh, and share a good time around a delicious coffee.
Brazil exports coffee beans of mainly Arabica variety and is highly demanded for having an intensely sweet and soft aroma, thin body, and relatively low acidity. Also, as in the case of Colombia, Brazil has the “‘Selo de Pureza” or seal of purity as a measure to guarantee the quality of Brazilian coffee.
After the journey we made today through what coffee is in the world, there is no doubt how important it is internationally for many countries, not only for what it represents and contributes to the world economy, but also for the role it plays in the culture of each region. For many nations, it is even the most important export product and for others, a safe ticket to active participation in the global economy.