Way back when coffee crops grew mostly in Ethiopia and Sudan, but now you’ll find one of the world’s favourite beverages grown in around 70 countries across the globe, although not every country exports the coffee beans they produce. Around 50 or so countries export their coffee globally. Updated for 2021 here’s our list of the world’s top 10 coffee producing countries in 2021.
COUNTRIES THAT PRODUCE COFFEE
Coffee is the actually the world’s second most traded commodity. In fact, only oil is more traded than coffee.
You’ll find that the countries that produce coffee have something in common. They’re all located in the Tropics. That’s the belt running between the tropics of cancer and Capricorn.
But it’s a little difficult to get your head around where your daily dose of coffee might have come from when you buy from your local specialty coffee shop or for that matter make an online bean purchase or two… time to delve into things and go on an international journey of coffee discovery as we explore the top coffee producing countries in South America, Asia and Africa.
SO, LET’S TRAVEL… AND EXPLORE THE TOP 10 COFFEE PRODUCING COUNTRIES
10. UGANDA (209,325 METRIC TONS)
Heading off to Africa we encounter Uganda entering the charts at number ten.
Uganda is mainly known for its robusta coffee. Cultivated for generations, the coffee beans are found indigenously deep within the rain forests. They’re thought to be among the rarest naturally occurring coffee trees anywhere.
The main Robusta growing areas are in the western Nile, Okoro region, northern regions of Lira and Gulu, the eastern regions of Mbale and Bugisu the central and southwestern regions of Jinja, Mukono, Kampala and Masaka as well as the western regions of Kasese and Mbarara.
In recent years its making a name for its speciality Arabica. Ugandan Robusta is a step above most other forms of the bean, and they tend to have a wine like acidity, with rich notes of chocolate producing a decent brew.
9. GUATEMALA (245,441 METRIC TONS)
Beetling off to Central America we find Guatemala trundling along at number nine.
Coffee wasn’t considered as a crop until the late 1850’s in the aftermath of the collapse of the country’s dye industry following introduction of chemical dyes to Europe’s textile industry.
By 1880 coffee accounted for 90% of Guatemala’s exports and to this day it is still their largest. The crop produced has a deserved reputation for quality. Almost exclusively Arabica, the main varieties include Caturra, Red and Yellow Catuai and Red and Yellow Bourbon. Guatemalan coffee beans thrive in areas with rich volcanic soil, low humidity, lots of sun, and cool nights, including the regions of Antigua, Acatenango, Atitlán, Cobán, Huehuetenango, Faijanes, San Marcos & Nuevo Orientea.
At Farrer’s we particularly love Guatemala Coban. This coffee has dark chocolate flavour, luxuriously rich hazelnut top notes with hints of dark fruits.
8. INDIA (234,000 METRIC TONS)
Scooting off to Asia and India wades in at number eight. From modest backgrounds India was badly affected by coffee rust in the 1870s and replaced many of their coffee farms with tea plantations. Indian is often thought of as a tea producing country, but the reality is that coffee has been about since the 1600s during the reign of the Mughal empire, tea didn’t arrive until the 1800s!
Traditionally known for Arabica coffee, since the turn of the century, the majority of their crop is now robusta which makes up 60% of their total production.
Coffee is grown mostly in the southern Indian states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The bulk of India’s coffee production is exported to Europe, where it is frequently used to make blended coffees. Coffee was brought back to India’s shores by a chap called Baba Budan, who smuggled several coffee beans from the Middle East into India, planted them in Karnataka, and the rest is history.
Our pick of the coffees from India has to be Monsoon Malabar. It’s unique processing involves the coffee beans being exposed to monsoon conditions. This helps deliver an unrivalled depth and character!
7. PERU (346,466 METRIC TONS)
Hopping over to Peru, coffee is grown across 10 specific regions in the north, central belt and south of the country.
It’s certainly not a new crop either having been grown across the country since the 1700s. Coffee was often totally overlooked due to the nation’s poor business infrastructure, which meant most of the coffee produced was consumed domestically. This has changed in recent decades with farmers having the opportunity to export and hit world markets with their produce.
Many are discovering these coffees rival some of the best from around the globe. Peru coffee grown in the lowlands tend to be medium bodied with nutty floral and fruity notes, those grown in the highlands, specifically in the Andes are floral, rich and acidic and are just waiting to be discovered.
6. ETHIOPIA (471,247 METRIC TONS)
Meanwhile in Africa, Ethiopia hits the heady heights at number six which is no surprise as it holds a special place in Ethiopian culture as the birthplace of coffee. There’s a very interesting story of how Arabica was discovered by a farmer and his dancing goats which we’ll save for another time…
Ethiopia offers thousands of varieties of bean, each with its own distinctive characteristics, with a wide range of flavours, and unlike most countries the best coffees are purely for local consumption and will never leave the country!
Ethiopia’s coffee industry is nationalised and accounts for 10% of the country’s GDP!
5. HONDURAS (475,042 METRIC TONS)
Back off to Central America, we find Honduras nudging ahead of Ethiopia at number five, taking the biscuit by 3,795 additional metric tons.
Honduras boasts similar climate conditions to Costa Rica and Guatemala, however its current position in global coffee exporters is astonishing as until relatively recently it was largely overlooked.
It was hindered in the past by poor infrastructure leading to most of their coffee being sold domestically with only 10% of their crop being exported. However in recent years their coffees are increasingly sought after.
Most Honduran coffees are grown on small mountain farms known as ‘Fincas’ at high altitudes of between 1400-1700 metres. Many of these ‘Fincas’ have their own micro-climate, which provides a huge range of flavour profiles and aromas from hazelnut, right through to vanilla with hints of red fruit.
4. INDONESIA (668,677 METRIC TONS)
Back to Asia and Indonesia jumps ahead significantly at number four. A pretty big new for a country made up of thousands of islands, the coffee available from this part of the globe is incredibly diverse.
Coffee cultivation dates back to the late 1600’s during the Dutch colonial period. The island of Java was the first place where coffee was cultivated in Indonesia. Java coffee is famous for its matured woody and earthy flavours with rich, full body and sweet acidity.
Indonesian coffees are pretty much in everyone’s coffee top 10… with Javan, Sumatran and Sulawesi high on the list. These are coffees that really deliver, with earthy notes, complex smoky and spicy flavours, with a full body and rich aroma.
3. COLOMBIA (754,376 METRIC TONS)
Skipping back South America, we encounter Colombia upping the ante still further at number three. With its perfect terrain and climate, Colombia is one of the few countries that produce 100% Arabica beans.
Colombia and coffee is a very famous combination which is prized for aromatic, mild and fruity flavours. Café de Colombia is a non-profit organisation, represents the coffee trade and touches every family in Colombia. It re-invests their profits to the benefit of coffee growing communities.
The beans are typically grown at 1500-2000 metres, which produces a range of medium bodied coffees with rich nutty aromas and a hint of citrus acidity, delivering a mild flavour and subtle sweetness.
2. VIETNAM (1,542,398 METRIC TONS)
In Asia, Vietnam jumps up a notch doubling up at number two, with well over 1.5 million tons. It’s their second most exported commodity next to rice.
Coffee was introduced to Vietnam by former French Colonialists in the 1800s to the Buôn Ma Thuột region, where it is still grown to this day. Vietnam is one of the world’s most competitive robusta producers after being reformed in 1986 allowing private enterprises which led to a surge in growth in the industry turning it into the second highest producing coffee country in the world.
Vietnam contributes 40% of the world’s overall production of Robusta coffee beans, which are known for their low-acidity and bitterness, making it perfect for instant coffee and as constituent part of blended coffee.
BUT, WHO GROWS THE MOST COFFEE IN THE WORLD?
1. BRAZIL (2,680,515 METRIC TONS)
Finally, we head back to South America to Brazil, which takes the top slot at number one, producing a staggering 2.68 million metric tonnes of coffee per year. As a nation it’s been topping the pops as the world’s leading coffee producer for 150 years!
Unsurprisingly, given the quantities of coffee Brazil produces, the climate is perfect for growing Arabica and Robusta beans.
Brazil boasts just the right levels of sunlight and rainfall, low elevation and even temperatures all year round. Brazil coffee is known for its creamy body, low acidity and subtle bittersweet rich chocolate and caramel notes, making it the perfect base for making great flavoured coffees.
However, it’s not just the bean that’s travelled and gone global. It’s the very word too that’s been on a bit of a journey, meandering its way across the globe from East Africa to the Middle East and onto Europe and then right round the globe in its English form.
Here’s a handy table below which summarises the top 10 coffee producing countries outputs.
TOP 10 COFFEE PRODUCING COUNTRIES
|Rank||Country||Coffee Production – Metric tons (000s) per year|
‘Coffee’ first turned up as a word in the English language in 1598, all after a wee bit of tinkering with the Dutch word ‘koffie’, which in turn came from the Ottoman Turkish ‘kahve’, a word that comes from the Arabic ‘qahwa’, a term which refers to the brewing process, a shortened version of ‘qahhwat al-bun’, which means ‘wine of the bean’, referring to the accidental brewing process used by local monks in 6th century Kaffa, Ethiopia, where coffee beans were first discovered…
Farrer’s have been craft roasting fresh coffee and blending fine teas since 1819 in the market town of Kendal – ‘the Gateway to the Lakes’. With more than 200 years experience we’re one of the UK’s oldest coffee roasters. We offer a vast range of craft roasted coffee by growing region, variety and processing method.