It all started in Ethiopia, 10 centuries ago. But now, many years later, coffee is the most consumed beverage after water, and, obviously, it would be totally impossible to supply all this amounts of beans just from one country.
For the last 300 years, as coffee consumption had it’s triumphant rally all over the world, the coffee shrub was spreading in the same tempo across all the territories that people considered suitable for it’s settling down. Mostly, it was spread by the so-called “imperial” countries that had large colonies in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
There are a lot of stories and legends of these coffee travels. For example, there is a romantic affair story of Portuguese council Francisco de Melo Palleta and a wife of the Governor of Guiana, which led to a flourishing coffee tree, that the woman in love presented to her beloved. This tree was secretly delivered to Brasil in 1.727, starting this country’s glorious coffee industry!
Now, after hundreds of years of spreading, coffee is widely cultivated, but most of its habitat is located between the two tropics - the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. That’s directly connected to the climate that these territories provide: it’s quite hot, it’s humid, and there are no big temperature changes throughout the year. These territories are called the Earth’s Coffee Belt. Of course, there are regions outside of this tropic zone, but with unique climate conditions that are perfect for coffee growing - like Canary Islands in Europe, Yunnan Province in China and - yes, Taiwan.
Thus, nowadays coffee is produced all over the world, in dozens of countries. But there are 5 of them that make 80% of this global production. So, which are they?
This mastodon of coffee provides 40% of the whole coffee grown in the world. In fact, coffee production is one of the most prolific industries in this country. That’s why the government controls it and supports big producers. Brasil produces mostly commercial coffees for the needs of the big suppliers like Nestle, Starbucks, a bunch of Italian famous roasters like Lavazza or Illy. But still, many farmers are looking for a new approach in cultivating and processing, that opens a way to the world of high-quality specialty coffee.
Commonly, Brazilian coffee (that is usually of natural and honey processing) gives you a sweet, well-balanced cup full of milk chocolate and nuts flavor, with round and velvety texture.
This country boosted it’s coffee production after the Vietnam War, and for the last 30 years it became the biggest robusta producer in the world. Now more than 50% of the global robusta market originates from Vietnam. Coffee is a commercial crop here, and it’s really difficult to find a specialty producer in Vietnam. But as time goes, more and more farmers start thinking of not only the volume, but the quality too. So, great specialty beans from Vietnam - it’s only a question of time.
Vietnamese robusta is consumed mostly in commercial blends and instant coffees, and to try a single-origin from this country you will probably need to go there :)
This country produces a lot of coffee, and this coffee, mostly, is of a very high quality. Colombian government takes a lot of efforts to support the coffee industry. They even created a fictional person, called Juan Valdez, that is kind of an ambassador of Colombian coffee in the world. Colombia is covered with high mountains, and this is a great opportunity for coffee growers. Higher in the mountains, due to very special microclimate conditions, the quality of the coffee is really exceptional. Most of the coffees from this country, by the governmental law, is washed.
Colombian coffees provide great, complex taste, full of fruity notes, layered acidity and clean, silky texture.
The motherland of coffee, this country produces beautiful coffees for more than 1000 years. All the arabica varieties that you can find in any producing country of the world goes from Ethiopia. Most of the coffees here still grow in semi-wild forests, and more than 16.000.000 people work with coffee and earn from it’s cultivation on a daily basis.
Coffee was consumed here before it became a world-wide mainstream, and is a big part of social and cultural life of indigenous people.
When having a cup of Ethiopian coffee, be ready for the blend of fruits, berries and sweet chocolate, with complex acidity and intense flavor.
This is the most diverse and intensively developing coffee region of the Big Five. More than 18.000 islands - and on most of them you can find coffee. Indonesia has a lot of volcanoes, many of them still active. And this results in the most important reason of Indonesia’s coffee success - rich, fertile volcanic soils. More than 90% of country’s coffee goes from smallholders with 1 ha of land or even less. Indonesia is still developing it’s specialty segment, slowly moving from commercial coffees to higher quality.
Commonly, Indonesian coffees provide rich flavor, with earthy and nutty notes and medium to low acidity.