Where Does Coffee Come From?

A female coffee farmer in Ethiopia, a country from where coffee originated.
A female coffee farmer in Ethiopia, a country from where coffee originated.

Coffee is one of the most popular beverages enjoyed by people across the world. So, where does coffee come from? Here, we discuss the two major varieties of coffee and the countries of their origin.

Coffea robusta

Coffea canephora, also popularly known as Coffea robusta, was recognized as a Coffea species in 1897, 100 years after the discovery of Coffea arabica. The coffee plant has a shallow root system and grows to a shrub or tree that is about 10 meters in height. Cherries ripen in about 10 to 11 months and produce beans that are oval-shaped. The Coffea robusta gives a greater crop yield than Coffea arabica and has a caffeine content of 2.7% compared to arabica's 1.5%. The robusta plant also demands a lesser application of pesticides and herbicides since it is less susceptible to disease and pests.

Where Does This Coffee Come From?

The Coffea robusta originated in the Ethiopian upland forests and grows indigenously in large parts of Central and Western Africa in the countries stretching from Liberia to Tanzania and south to Angola. The plant has been introduced to several other parts of the world like Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Lesser Antilles, Jamaica, French Polynesia, and Borneo.

Today, approximately 30% of the global coffee production is robusta. Vietnam is the largest producer of this type of coffee which was introduced in the country in the late 19th century by French colonists. Africa countries, Brazil, India, and Indonesia are the other major producers of this type of coffee.

Coffea arabica

Coffee arabica is the most widely grown variety of coffee in the world. The plants grow up to 30 to 39 feet in height and possess an open branching system. The leaves of these plants are elliptic-ovate to oblong shaped with oppositely placed leaves. The leaves are glossy, dark green in color and about 6 to 12 cm in length. The flowers are white, and seeds are contained in a drupe.

Where Does This Coffee Come From?

Coffea arabica, like the Coffea robusta, also originated from the southwestern highlands of the African country of Ethiopia. It is the first species of coffee to be cultivated in the world. The plant is also endemic to the mountainous regions of Yemen. The Coffea arabica has also been recovered from some other parts of Africa like South Sudan’s Boma Plateau and northern Kenya’s Mount Marsabit.

The Coffea arabica plant has been introduced in several other parts of the world like Latin America, Southeast Asia, China, parts of the Caribbean, islands in the Pacific, and also other parts of Africa. Today, Brazil is the largest producer of Coffea arabica.


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