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Where Coffee Is Grown Around the World

A lot of times, coffee lovers don’t spend a lot of time thinking about coffee. We mean, really thinking about coffee – like how it’s grown and where it’s grown. The closest thing the typical coffee lover gets to learning about the country of origin is seeing it on a package label or on the board at their local coffee shop.

“Why care about where it’s grown?” you may ask. “Isn’t coffee, you know, coffee? Isn’t it all pretty much the same?”

Believe it or not, where the coffee is grown has a lot to do with how it tastes. So much, in fact, that certain growing regions – even certain areas within those growing regions – have a distinct and noticeable taste that coffee experts can often identify just by taking a sample.

Let’s talk about how location dictates taste and where, exactly, coffee is grown all over this great big world of ours.

How Coffee’s Location Determines How It Tastes

What makes coffee taste as delicious and interesting as it does?

A lot of factors go into the taste of a particular type of coffee, and the majority of them all start at the beginning.

These factors include:

  • The plant’s variety (some areas are better for some varieties than others)
  • Soil chemistry
  • Weather
  • The amount of sunshine
  • The amount of rainfall
  • Altitude
  • How the coffee cherries are processed

You’d be surprised at just how many combinations of coffee you can get from these variables. You can determine which coffee came from which area pretty easily, but you can also tell which coffee came from which plantation within that area. And one farm can provide multiple variations in taste and quality.

That’s why cultivating coffee and developing great taste is an art and a science. There are just so many factors to manipulate in order to get that lip-smacking taste we all want.

Exploring the World of Coffee

So, where is coffee grown?

There are two main varieties of coffee: arabica and robusta. The coffee we serve at Seeds (and what you’ll find at most coffee shops) is arabica, and it prefers high altitudes and soil that is richer than usual. Robusta is a bit more, well, robust, so it can be grown at lower altitudes and higher temperatures.

Both varieties are still limited to a particular part of the world. They’re grown along what the industry calls the “Bean Belt”, which is more or less along the Equator, between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer.

The Bean Belt includes places such as:

  • Hawaii
  • Puerto Rico
  • Mexico
  • Guatemala
  • Costa Rica
  • Nicaragua
  • Colombia
  • Brazil
  • Venezuela
  • Ethiopia (legend has it this is where coffee was first discovered)
  • Kenya
  • Ivory Coast
  • Indonesia
  • Vietnam
  • Thailand
  • Laos
  • Philippines

There are more countries that grow coffee, but most of the coffee you’ve had probably came from one of those places.

These places have a lot in common – they all have hilly to mountainous regions with rich, fertile soil and tropical weather – but they vary a lot between themselves, which helps to promote the local flavor in each area’s products.

At Seeds, we like to import a diverse offering of coffee. Right now, on our website, you can find coffee from Colombia, Guatemala, Laos, Nepal, and Ethiopia, and this selection often changes.

Coffee is delicious, but it’s the type of deliciousness that varies depending on who grew it and where they grew it. The next time you drink a cup, think about where it came from and how an often-bewildering assortment of factors from places hundreds to thousands of miles away conspired to deliver that exact flavor hitting your taste buds.
(And, of course, come drink those cups in our Homewood or Lakeview locations.)