Typically, the kinds of regions which are known to be the most coffee-friendly are commonly found between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.
We call this region the Coffee Belt, which hosts about 75 countries that are much better suited to growing coffee beans than any other country in the world.
Reviewing this Bean Belt picture, one might assume that there are plenty of prime locations for the best coffee beans in the world to grow. Unfortunately, this is not really the case, as the arabica plant is rather fickle in terms of where exactly it likes to thrive. Yes, it can and does grow in each of these places, but not without the hard work put in by coffee farmers.
Many of the regions in which the coffea arabica plant actually grows and beans are harvested on a regular basis has many different and sometimes unpredictable variables and certain conditions for growing which affects the annual crop’s success, and, ultimately, the taste of the coffee we drink once it is shipped to us in other parts of the world. While we simply have to wait patiently for our premium coffee, Mother Nature is busy contemplating whether this year’s crop will be easy…or difficult.
Three more specific factors that go a long way to determining what qualifies the best coffee countries in the world. These conditions will include:
Although each of these three factors are critical in the growth of the coffea arabica plant, the flavor of the beans can be most allocated to one thing in particular: altitude.
High elevations above 3,000 feet to 6,000 feet and beyond provide ideal growing conditions for the coffee tree: a frost-free climate averaging 60-70º F year-round, moderate rainfall of about 80 inches, and abundant sunshine. Cooler mountain temperatures provide a slower growth cycle for the coffee tree which prolongs bean development. This longer maturation process saturates the coffee bean with more complex sugars, yielding deeper, more interesting flavors. Better drainage at high elevations also reduces the amount of water in the fruit resulting in a further concentration of flavors. The soil in which the finest arabica coffees are grown is extremely fertile, and often volcanic.
Second only to oil, coffee is the world’s second most traded commodity, with about half a trillion cups drank per year. Not only used for brewing a cup of joe, the coffee bean (through decaffeination) provides caffeine for beverages (cola), pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics. Despite the different flavours there are two main commercially grown beans Arabica which accounts for 70% of coffee and the Robusta bean, which is far cheaper and easier to grow.
These are the ten nations that the International Coffee Organization named the world’s top producers of coffee: