Where do Coffee Beans come from? (Coffee 101!)

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Johny Morrisson


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♡ Written by Humans for Humans

You can find Coffee everywhere, from offices to gas stations and restaurants to parks. Many people cannot even imagine their morning breakfast without a good coffee cup.

Coffee is the most common drink in the world, but have you ever wondered where do coffee beans come from?

Coffee beans come from the seeds of coffee cherries, which grow on coffee trees in tropical regions around the world. Coffee trees first produce fruit after 3-4 years and reach peak production between 5-10 years. 

Coffee Plant

Brief History of Coffee beans

During the 6th century, an Ethiopian Shephard named Kaldi discovered coffee beans. As Kaldi grazes his goats, he notices that they always gather around a specific plant and eat red cherries.  

Also, he noticed that the goats became more energetic after eating red cherries.   

When Kaldi tried these cherries for himself, he felt energized as well.  

 He told the whole story to the Monk and gave him some cherries to try.

Monk brewed these cherries and made a drink of them, and the Monk also felt more alert in his meditation after drinking it.

Monk Spread the word of this incredible Discovery, and the rest is History.

Are you looking to buy some good Espresso Beans: Check our guide on some of the best Espresso Beans

How do Farmers Grow Coffee?

Coffee is grown on farms and plantations in tropical regions with adequate rainfall, rich soil, and mild temperatures. The coffee plant has dense and waxy dark green colored leaves.

In about one year, a coffee plant begins to flower. It takes 3-4 years to produce red coffee cherries and 10 years to reach commercial scale.

Farmers engage in the main harvest of their crops between April to July. They meticulously handpick the ripe red cherries or strip them with machines. After gathering, the fresh cherries undergo processing to expertly remove the outer skin and pulp layers, which then allows the extraction of the coffee beans inside.

How do farmers grow coffee

where is coffee grown?

Coffee is mainly grown in the tropical zone, also known as the bean belt. The climate conditions and minerals in the soil of this zone are perfect for the growth of Coffee.

Some of the primary locations where coffee is cultivated include:

  • Latin America – Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Peru. This region accounts for the majority of global coffee production.
  • Africa – Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Ivory Coast. Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee.
  • Asia – Vietnam, Indonesia, India. Large Robusta coffee production comes from Asia.
  • Hawaii – The only state in the U.S. with large-scale coffee cultivation.

Brazil, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Colombia are the biggest exporters of Coffee.

Bean Belt
Source: Science

How does the region affect the taste of coffee?

The taste of coffee is significantly influenced by the region where the coffee beans are grown.

This comes down to key factors like soil composition, altitude, climate, processing methods, and coffee species that impart nuances based on the region.

For example, the volcanic soil and high altitudes of Guatemalan coffee contribute to a complex, bright cup with crisp acidity.

The beans grown in Brazil’s nutrient-rich soil take on a smooth, approachable taste with nutty sweetness. Distinct harvesting and drying practices in Jamaica lead to exotic mildness.

Ethiopian beans often highlight fruit tones like blueberry, while Sumatran coffee develops an earthy, herbal quality.

Major coffee regions develop signature profiles – whether that’s the winy acidity of Kenyan beans, the mellow chocolate finish of Hawaiian Kona, or the heavy body and spice of Indonesian java.

Check out our interesting article on What country has the best coffee

Two main Types of Coffee Plants

There are basically two types of coffee plants, one is Arabica, and the other one is Robusta. These two types have further many varieties in them.

1)Arabica

The Arabica Coffee bean is flat or oval in shape, and it has a sweet, fruity, and light flavor. Almost 70% of the Coffee beans grown around the world are Arabica. The reason is its smooth taste which most coffee lovers like.

Arabica beans are mainly cultivated at relatively higher altitudes. The production cost of Arabica beans is much higher than the Robusta beans as they are more vulnerable to pests.

Arabica plants are mainly grown in Latin American and African countries.

2) Robusta

Robusta beans are smaller and round. The flavor of Robusta beans is earthy and bitter and has a higher caffeine content than Arabica beans.

Due to its harsh flavor and lack of sugar, it is not liked by most coffee lovers. They are mainly used to prepare coffee blends.

Robusta beans are grown at lower altitudes. Robusta plants are relatively easier to cultivate and are not vulnerable to pests.

That’s why the production cost of Robusta beans is somewhat lower than the Arabica beans. These plants are primarily produced in the Asian or African region.

Processing of the Coffee beans

Coffee beans start out as red cherries on coffee plants. After harvesting, these cherries go through a series of processing steps to transform them into dark brown beans with the rich aroma of dark chocolate that we know and love.

Processing of Coffee beans

The first step in processing coffee beans is to remove the cherry cover and dry the beans. There are two main methods for doing this:

Dry Method

The dry method of processing coffee beans is commonly used in countries with limited water resources.

In this method, the freshly harvested cherries are dried on large surfaces under the sun, with some of the cherry flesh left intact. This imparts a unique fruity flavor to the coffee beans.

This method can result in a winey flavor due to the fermentation of the fruit flesh on the beans. Some coffee lovers enjoy this fruity flavor, while others do not.  

Wet Method

The wet method of processing coffee beans involves soaking the coffee cherries in water for two to three days to remove all traces of the fruit pulp. The beans are then dried under the sun.

The Coffee seeds processed by this method have a pure coffee profile; that’s why it is loved by coffee lovers.

Roasting

After drying, the green coffee seeds are roasted under high temperatures to produce final dark-colored coffee beans. Coffee beans have 1200 different aroma compounds, which can be developed by roasting.

Roasters test different roasting techniques to extract the perfect flavor from the coffee beans. For this purpose, the coffee experts examine different temperature conditions and different times for roasting.

Lighter roasts are fruitier and more acidic, while dark roasts are bitter and less acidic.

Read a Guide on Light vs Dark roast Coffee

Coffee Roasting

If you wanna know more in detail about coffee roasting, Check our guide on Different types of coffee roasts


Final Thoughts

While coffee is enjoyed in cafes and homes around the world today, we have the early Ethiopian growers and Yemenite traders to thank for first cultivating and sharing these magical beans centuries ago.

Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia, and dozens more coffee-producing lands have made growing high-quality beans an agricultural science. But Mother Nature still takes the lead by providing the right soils, rains, sun, slopes, and temperatures to nourish the plants.

Of course, expert roasters and baristas further enhance those regional nuances. But take a moment to appreciate where it all begins next time you savor your morning brew.


FAQs

Where do Americans get their Coffee beans from?

A large portion of the coffee beans consumed in the United States comes from the Americas, specifically Brazil and Colombia. Other major sources of imported beans include Guatemala and Mexico in Central America and Vietnam and Indonesia in Asia.

Does Coffee come from Animal Poop?

No, coffee does not actually come from animal poop! This is a common myth about coffee beans that is not true.
The myth may have arisen because of a type of coffee known as Kopi Luwak. It is made from beans that have been eaten and then excreted by civet cats.

Where is the largest coffee plantation in the US?

The largest coffee plantation in the United States is in the state of Hawaii, known as the Kona coffee belt. In fact, Hawaii is the only state in the USA where coffee is grown.
This region is renowned for producing some of the finest coffee in the World.
Kona coffee is celebrated for its smooth, well-balanced flavor with hints of nuttiness and bright acidity.

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Johny Morrison is a founder and content creator at Coffee About, bringing passion and expertise to the world of coffee.

You can often find him sipping a single-origin pour-over, rich French press, or pulling espresso shots at home. Johny loves full-bodied dark roasts – the bolder, the better!

As a former barista, he takes coffee equipment seriously and enjoys experimenting with the latest gear. When he’s not brewing or blogging, Johny is scouting local cafes for his next coffee fix.