Looking at a map of the world, if you highlight all of the major coffee producing countries, you will notice that the majority of them lie within the confines of the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. These two imaginary dividing lines lie apart with the equator in between with this entire stretch often called the coffee bean belt.
The growing areas within this coffee bean belt have steady moderate temperatures of around 20˚C or 70˚F. The soil is porous and rich in nutrients and adding the steady supply of rain and sunshine, you have the perfect conditions for the coffee plants. This coffee plant is often the economic rock in many areas and is almost as revered as oil. For the most part, Arabica coffee beans are the most harvested with about 65-70% of the exportation with Robusta beans accounting for the rest.
Brazil – A Coffee Powerhouse
Brazil got a later start in coffee production, several centuries after its discovery in Ethiopia. However, they have more than made up for lost time becoming the largest exporter of coffee in the world. Based on numbers of bags, they produce around 25 million a year, about 1/3 of the world's coffee supply. Frost is the largest danger to the coffee beans cultivated here, especially the most notable varieties like the Bahia and Bourbon Santos.
See: Brazil Santos Coffee
Colombia – Home of Juan Valdez
With Pacific and Atlantic connections, Colombia has a leg up on other countries in its exportation of coffee. Coming in second in world production and growth, Colombia estimates approximately 12 million bags of coffee each year. The coffee plants here love the temperate climate of the Andes foothills but bacteria is of concern here so growers are particularly cautious in the treatment of their plants. Some of the best beans in the world like the Supremo and Medellin are found here.
Indonesia – One of the Earliest Coffee Established Areas
The Dutch introduced coffee to the Indonesia area, particularly the island of Java as well as Sumatra and Sulawesi. Indonesia has the highest concentration of Robusta beans in the world and the Java and Sumatra varieties are among the most desired as well. At almost 10 million bags a year, they are one of the top exporters of coffee beans in the world.
Mexico – The United States Largest Coffee Supplier
The coffee plant was introduced in Mexico in the 18th century and is now the largest U.S. supplier of coffee beans. The country produces about 6-8 million bags of beans a year, with most of them being Arabica beans cultivated in the most southern regions. The Altura and Coixtepec are two of the tastiest and desired coffee beans from the country.
Vietnam – A Surprising Producer
Vietnam produces between 5-8 million bags of coffee each year making the country one of the largest suppliers in the world. It is only in the past two or three decades that coffee growing has really taken off which accounts for the reason why some people do not realize Vietnam produces some tasty coffee, mostly Robusta.
Ethiopia – The Original Coffee Producer
The African country of Ethiopia still hangs in there with the coffee giants to produce some of the world's tastiest coffees. They are known for the Sidamo and Harrar coffee beans and export quite a bit of Arabica as well, up to 4 or 5 million bags a year.
Other Regions of the World
India is close behind Ethiopia in coffee production and produces some strong, flavourful beans like the Malabar and Mysore. Cote d'Ivoire and Guatemala are neck and neck in coffee growth and production. The volcanic soil in Guatemala is the reason why their coffee beans like the Atitlan are in demand. Cote d'Ivoire mainly produces Robusta beans.
A number of other countries within this coffee bean belt also produce coffee, only in smaller quantities, mainly due to lack of investment or lack of land. However, each area is unique and produces a coffee bean that is unique. Coffee connoisseurs often can identify areas of the world where their coffee beans came from, solely by taste.