Understanding the Coffee Belt

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Commercial coffee is grown in the coffee belt, a defined area that surrounds the equator 25 degrees north and 30 degrees south, through America, Asia and Africa. The coffee belt is known for its rich soil, a mild temperature on average of 20 degrees, with frequent rainfall and shaded sun, which makes it the ideal growing conditions for coffee. However, each region has varying soil chemical makeup, weather patterns and altitude, which can all impact on the flavour of coffee, giving coffee its regional differences.

Central and South America
Colombia, Brazil, Costa Rica, El Savador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Mexico make up some of the coffee growing countries in central and south America. The coffee grown in central and south America is considered mild in flavour with nutty and chocolatey notes.

Brazil is the largest coffee producer in the world. In 2018, Brazil produced some 61.7 million 60kg bags of coffee as reported by Statista. The climate is hot and humid, and the altitude is lower than other producing coffee countries, which reduces the coffee’s acidity. Dry processing is a popular method in Brazil along with Sumatra and Ethiopia.

Colombia is the third biggest coffee producer, globally. The coffee produced in Colombia is known for its sweet and medium body, with a mild acidity.

Ethiopia is home to the Arabica coffee bean. The country makes up the largest share in Africa’s coffee production, followed by Uganda, Cote d’Ivoire, Tanzania, Kenya, Madagascar and Cameroon. The coffee grown in Africa is known for its bright, fruity and floral flavours with a medium body.

According to the USDA, “Ethiopia’s coffee production for mid-year 2019/2020 (October-September) is forecast at 7.35 million 60-kilogram bags (441,000 metric tons). Exports are forecast to reach a record four million bags (240,000 metric tons).” It is likely that this will only increase as there becomes greater demand for premium coffee.

Asia Pacific
In Asia, the coffee belt includes India, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Vietnam and Yemen, with Vietnam and Indonesia being the two biggest coffee growing regions in Asia.

Coffee in the Asia Pacific region generally have heavy body, with an earthy flavour. Notable coffees from the Asia Pacific region include Java and Sumatra. Java coffee is grown in Indonesia on the island of Java. It is a full-body coffee with low acidity and nutty, creamy and chocolatey notes. Sumatra is grown on volcanic soils in the Tapanuli region of Sumatra. The beans are processed using the wet-hull method (this is different from wet-processed coffee). As of the region’s volatile weather, the coffee is usually dried for only a few hours before the weather takes a turn. Much of the process gives the coffee its distinct earthy, woody and herbal tones, along with its full body.

Our Coffee Expertise
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