Where Coffee Is Grown: A Quick Tour of the Top 10 Coffee-Producing Countries

Where Coffee Is Grown: A Quick Tour of the Top 10 Coffee-Producing Countries

By Jennifer Mattern

If you’re a roaster, we’re betting you might know exactly where your coffee beans of choice are grown, right down to the latitude and longitude. But you might be surprised how little your customers (or your baristas) know about where coffee is grown. 

Educating your coffee shop customers about the primary coffee-producing regions (also known as origin) not only provides transparency about the hard-working people growing those beans, but it can be a pivotal strategy for expanding your coffee offerings. 

By providing insights into different coffee origins, brewing methods, flavor profiles, and roasting techniques, you empower customers to appreciate the nuances of coffee from crop to cup. As they become more knowledgeable and adventurous, this creates opportunities for you to introduce a wider range of coffees. And, in the end, it can enable you to develop relationships with and support coffee growers from multiple coffee regions.

Each cup of coffee tells a story — not just about the product but the people and place that produced it. So, let’s take a closer look at the main regions* where coffee is grown around the globe and what each of them has to offer. 

First stop: The Coffee Belt and the two types of coffee beans grown there. 

* Based on the 2023 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations report (FAO)


The Coffee Belt: Where Coffee Is Grown (Mostly)

Coffee is grown in over 70 countries around the world, and most of these countries fall within the Coffee Belt — the symbolic “belt” stretched around the globe that ranges from 25 degrees north to about 30 degrees south of the equator. 



It covers the geographic region between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, where temperatures range from 59 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 24 degrees Celsius), with an altitude ranging from around 2,000 to 6,600 feet above sea level. These high altitudes and temperate climates near the equator are ideal for cultivating excellent coffee, though climate change is taking an increasing toll. 

The Coffee Belt produces vast varieties of coffee, compliments of a French term associated with wine: terroir. The terroir of coffee refers to environmental variables — climate, soil, amount of sunlight, growing conditions, annual rainfall, elevation — that shape a coffee’s unique characteristics, creating beans with location-specific notes and distinctive flavors.

Arabica or Robusta? 

Two types of coffee beans currently rule the global coffee market: Arabica (Coffea arabica) and Robusta (Coffea canephora or Coffea robusta). Arabica tends to be more popular with roasters and coffee drinkers worldwide, but it’s more susceptible to rot and disease. Robusta is much hardier — a critical factor for coffee farmers, particularly those in the lush, wet regions of southeast Asia.

In terms of taste, Arabica offers a wide range of flavors, depending on the particular varietal. Arabica flavors range from tangy and sharp to sweet and mild. Robusta varietals, on the other hand, tend to be more earthy and bitter and are often cultivated for use in instant coffee (though some argue that a robusta revolution is brewing). 

Main Coffee Regions Where Coffee Is Grown

Central America: Home to #6 and #10

Medium-bodied, and nuanced, with a bright, pleasant acidity, Central American coffee skews clean and balanced and holds an impressively wide appeal. Central American coffee beans (predominantly Arabica) are rated by elevation, and beans grown at high altitudes are designated as SHB (Strictly Hard Beans). 



The SHB coffees have a greater density than low-elevation coffee crops and offer full bodied, rich, floral tasting notes. Coffee farmers in Central America also continue to experiment with new coffee varieties and alternative methods of processing their beans, which means roasters can expect delicious diversity and exciting nuances from the “Centrals” for years to come. 

Honduras is a significant coffee producer known for its diverse and flavorful Arabica beans. Honduran coffees often boast a balanced profile with notes of chocolate, caramel, and nutty undertones. They tend to have a medium body and acidity, with some varieties offering fruity or floral accents. Honduras’ varied microclimates and altitude contribute to the complexity and richness of its coffee offerings, making it a prominent player in the specialty coffee industry.

CEPros Pick: Honduras Medium Roast (CEPros client Exploradora Coffee)


Guatemala’s southern region, especially the foothills of the Sierra Madre mountain range, produces impressive SHB Arabica coffee. Guatemalan coffee is adored for its spicy, full-bodied flavor and complex fruit and chocolate tasting notes. Guatemala’s hefty elephant bean is a particular star for its size and unbeatable quality.

CEPros Pick: Guatemala Antingua (CEPros client San Francisco Coffee Roasting Co.)


South America: Home to #1, #4 and #8

Arabica coffee from South American countries is a perennial favorite. The region’s coffee is often described as “balanced” or “smooth,” two characteristics desired by the majority of coffee drinkers.



Still, there’s a great deal of complexity in South American coffee, depending on the source. Boutique coffee farms on the continent are producing exceptional cup profiles for specialty roasters seeking something different at a good price point.

Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of coffee, thanks to its massive Arabica and Robusta coffee plantations. Though much of the country’s production yields commercial-grade beans, many small farms are wowing the market with top-notch specialty varietals. Brazilian coffees are often described as chocolatey and nutty, with low acidity and medium body.

CEPros Pick: Brazil Santos (CEPros client J.B. Peel Coffee & Tea)


Although not quite as prolific as Brazil, Colombia is the country perhaps most associated with coffee, thanks to years of its Coffee Federation’s brilliant marketing. It’s the world’s second-biggest coffee producer and has been exporting quality coffee for decades. You’ll often find Colombian beans included in commercial blends, but the country is also a powerhouse in the specialty coffee market. Colombian (Arabica) beans are a great choice for roasters looking for balanced, mild taste profiles with appealing nutty, chocolatey notes and gentle acidity. Colombian Supremo is its finest-grade coffee, with a gorgeous scent and light sweetness.

CEPros Pick: Luis Serna Caturra (CEPros client Broken Compas Coffee Roasters)


Coffee thrives in high-elevation regions, so it’s no surprise that Peru is currently the third-largest producer in South America. Arabica coffee from Peru is often described as chocolatey or nutty, with intriguing notes like brown sugar, plum, and floral.

CEPros Pick: Peru Amozanas (CEPros client Little Bear Coffee)


Africa: Home to #5 and #7 

Currently, African coffee makes up approximately 12 percent of coffee production worldwide, with Ethiopia (39 percent) and Uganda (23 percent) accounting for more than half of its coffee exports. The majority of African beans are used in bulk supply and commercial blends; however, East African specialty-grade beans continue to surge in popularity.



Ethiopia proudly holds the claim as the birthplace of coffee. Now the fifth-largest coffee producer in the world, the country has been cultivating coffee for almost fourteen centuries. Ethiopia is known for its coffee diversity, with thousands of coffee varieties, many considered “heirloom,” or of unknown genetic origin. Arabica beans are still primarily sourced from wild coffee tree forests that populate three growing regions: Sidamo, Kaffa, and Harar. Wet-processed Ethiopian beans tend to yield a delicate, earthy, tea-like brew. However, Ethiopia also dry-processes a large quantity of beans. These varieties are rich in citrus and thick fruit notes, with blueberry being the one most commonly named.

CEPros Pick: Sidama (CEPros client Buunni Coffee)


Uganda grows both Arabica and Robusta coffee, although the country is far better known for its indigenous Robusta. In general, Ugandan coffees are less complex and lighter in body than the coffee of Kenya or Tanzania. One standout is Bugisu, a Ugandan Arabica with a rich mouthfeel and delightful earthy chocolate flavor.

CEPros Pick: Rwenzori (African Coffee Club)


Southeast Asia & India: Home to #2, #3, and #9

Southeast Asia is a huge producer of Robusta coffee beans, but its impressive arabica coffees garner global admiration for silky, savory cupping notes and lower acidity levels.



Vietnam is the fourth-highest coffee producer on the planet. It grows some of the best Robusta beans on the market, with layered taste profiles enhanced by careful hand-picking. This attention to detail ensures that Vietnamese coffee stands out for its richness and complexity. These beans are highly regarded for their bold flavor and strong caffeine content.

CEPros Pick: Loyalty (Nguyen Coffee Supply)  


Indonesia produces mostly Robusta beans, and plenty of it: Almost a third of the world’s coffee beans are grown in Indonesia. Deep, dark, earthy varieties abound, like its Sumatran beans, aromatic with hints of spice, like nutmeg and clove. 

CEPros Pick: Organic Dark Sumatra (CEPros client Portland Coffee Roasters)


India is a significant coffee producer, primarily cultivating Arabica and Robusta beans in regions like Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu. Known for its diverse microclimates, India produces coffee with a range of flavors, from nutty and chocolatey to fruity and spicy. Indian coffee is esteemed for its quality and contributes substantially to the country’s agricultural economy and global coffee market presence. 

CEPros Pick: Indian Monsoon Malabar (Fresh Roasted Coffee LLC)
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