Coffee around the world is mostly grown in the “The Bean Belt,” which represents
the zone along the Equator, between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Within the Bean Belt, there are three coffee-growing regions: Central and South America, Africa, and Asia.
Within these regions, there are over 50 coffee-producing countries, and they all vary in volumes of production. The bulk of the world’s coffee is produced in Brazil, Colombia and Vietnam, with these three countries accounting for about 74% of the world’s total production. Colombia currently produces 475,042 metric tons of coffee per year. Colombia’s flavors are described as balanced, sweet and smooth. And then there are the up-and-coming countries like Bolivia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Peru that are gaining popularity in the coffee industry.
These emerging countries include not just countries that are new to the coffee producing scene, but also countries that may have halted a large amount of their coffee production for some time due to various reasons like natural disasters, war or disease.
These emerging coffee regions have a wide range of flavors. Costa Rica’s flavors are described as right, clean and fruity. Until World War II, Costa Rica had been one of the main players in coffee production. England, their top exporter, stopped purchasing their coffee during the war and soon after, a blight hit the Central American coffee farms. Costa Rica’s production has since ramped up, but the price is still catching up .Less than 1% of the world’s coffee supply comes from Costa Rica. Yet, it’s still the world’s 15th largest coffee producer.
Guatemala’s flavors are described as bold, robust and nuanced. Guatemala currently produces 245,441 metric tons of coffee per year and its popular varieties are Bourbon and Typica, which are the two original coffee varieties. Geisha, which is an heirloom variety originally from Ethiopia, has also been gaining popularity in the past decade.
Most Honduran coffees are grown on small mountain farms known as “Fincas” at high altitudes of between 5,000 and 8,000 feet in elevation. Many of these Fincas have their own micro-climate, which provides a huge range of flavor profiles and aromas from hazelnut, right through to vanilla with hints of red fruit.
In 1973, the Mexican government, recognising the potential for coffee to assist rural development, set up the national institute for coffee INMECAFE. A decade later, coffee became Mexico’s most valuable export crop, accounting for 35% of total agricultural output by the middle of the ‘80s. Production peaked at 440,000 tonnes of green coffee by 1990. But then the collapse of the International Coffee Agreement removed the coffee price floor, and eventually in INMECAFE’s place rose cooperatives, who not only supported Mexico’s indigenous producers but also encouraged organic coffee production. Mexico exported 2.6 million 60-kilo bags in 2018 and 2019. While this is less than 1% of total coffee exports globally, it still makes the country the ninth-largest coffee exporter in the world. Mexico’s flavors are described as clean, sweet and light.
Peru’s flavors are described as sweet almond and vanilla. Peru currently produces 346,466 metric tons of coffee per year. Coffee has been grown across the country since the 1700s, but it was often totally overlooked due to the nation’s poor business infrastructure, which meant most of the coffee produced was consumed domestically. This has changed in recent decades with farmers having the opportunity to export and hit world markets.
These up-and-coming countries have an opportunity to make a play in the coffee production market because there are concerns over how much of an effect climate change will have on the Bean Belt countries.