If you’re a casual coffee drinker, you may not pay attention to where your coffee beans are grown. Coffee enthusiasts, however, pay close attention. Some java lovers prefer their coffee to come from a particular region of the world. Why? Each soil is different. Coffee grown in Africa isn’t going to taste the same as coffee grown in other parts of the world. There are different flavors and undertones many drinkers simply can’t do without.
South American, or Latin America if you will, is one of the leaders when it comes to coffee production. The temperatures are right for excellent coffee. The soil is rich and the rainfall is adequate. Not to mention, there are farmers across the many coffee-growing regions that are dedicated to ensuring each cherry they harvest is top-notch and ready for roasting.
Whether you’re the casual drinker we spoke about or the enthusiast that loves coffee from a certain region of the world, you may be curious about where coffee is grown in South America. That’s what we’re here to discover. We’ll take a look at the countries producing the most coffee, the best coffee, and those that are on the rise.
How It All Began
You may be curious as to how coffee production in South America began. During the 18th century, Europeans first introduced coffee seeds to Suriname and French Guiana. Once this introduction was made, cultivation began to spread to other countries due to the favorable growing conditions in the region. Within a century, 3 South American countries were at the top when it came to coffee production. Brazil and Colombia are still top-notch coffee producers, but the third, Venezuela, focused more on oil production than coffee.
South America is home to both Arabica and Robusta beans. While Arabica takes special growing conditions, which can be obliged in this region, Robusta is a hardier coffee variety that can grow more easily. It is also less likely to suffer from disease or pests which makes it a great crop for farmers in the region. Having the ability to grow both main coffee plants allows the countries of South America to dominate the world when it comes to coffee production.
Top 4 South American Countries That Grow Coffee:
1. Brazil, a World Leader
Did you know that Brazil is the world leader when it comes to coffee production? More than 1/3 of the coffee we drink is produced in this county. While Brazil hasn’t always had a good reputation when it comes to coffee production, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t fighting to be the top producer. The issue with Brazilian coffee several years ago was the government’s concern for quantity over quality. Most of their beans were used in blends, making their selection less favorable when it came to specialty coffees.
Luckily, for the people of the country and us coffee drinkers, that’s no longer the case. Brazil has a new focus when it comes to coffee. That focus is quality. You’ll find their beans exhibit a soft sweetness, low acidity, and full-bodied, floral, and fruity flavors. They are even known for their varieties made through engineering and natural mutation. Some of the most popular of these varieties include Caturra, Typica, Mundo Novo, Catuai, and Yellow Bourbon. The farmers of Brazil produce both Arabica and Robusta beans which helps them stay on top of the coffee world.
2. Famous Colombian Coffee
Are you old enough to remember Juan Valdez? If you grew up hearing him talk about Colombian coffee then you can understand why this country is still one of the top producers of coffee in the world. While Colombia’s most famous spokesperson may have been fictional, the country’s dedication to delicious coffee wasn’t. Colombia is famous for being the only country that produces only Arabica beans. This production of these beans makes them the 3rd highest coffee producer in the world.
With some of the most favorable locations for coffee growing, mountainous regions that receive an annual rainfall of approximately 80 inches, have nutrient-rich volcanic soil, and perfect temperatures, there is no wonder Colombia is a beloved coffee producer. The taste of coffee from this country has a citrus acidity, a slightly fruity sweet taste, hints of spice, and a medium body. You’ll also find that coffee production is a true labor of love in Colombia with farmers hand picking cherries when it’s time to harvest.
3. Peru, the Fighter
Peru is the 3rd largest coffee producer in South America and the 9th largest in the world. That’s no small feat considering the difficult conditions many of the Peruvian coffee farms face. Unfortunately, Peru suffers from inadequate processing facilities. This hasn’t stopped them, however.
Even with isolated farms, processing issues, and price fluctuations, the farmers of Peru strive to provide the world with their light-bodied and intensely bright coffee. The aroma of Peruvian coffee is chocolatey while the flavor is pleasing and slightly nutty. It’s clear that if the dedication Peru is showing to the coffee world continues, they’ll become an even larger contender in the coffee industry.
4. Ecuador, the Up and Comer
Ecuador is another country in South America that is steadily climbing the ladder in the coffee industry. While the country’s fame originally came from growing beans that were perfect for instant coffee, Ecuador has advanced its coffee tradition. Scaling back from the large farms of years past, the focus on smaller, family-owned coffee farms is the new norm in this area. While most of the coffee produced by Ecuador is consumed in the country, that doesn’t mean their production efforts shouldn’t be noticed.
Taking a look at a few of the leading contenders, and up and comers, when it comes to coffee production in South America is ideal for anyone looking to enjoy a great cup of coffee. With the right insights, you can keep your eyes open for coffees produced in the countries so you can taste the flavors so many people can’t stop raving about. Besides, as coffee lovers, it’s our job to taste them all, right?
Featured Image Credit: Gerson Cifuentes, Unsplash