Frequently Asked Questions
Where do coffee beans come from?
Ask a coffee lover that question and they will surely tell you that coffee beans come from the heavens. But where do coffee beans come from? Coffee has that sensual aroma that attracts drinkers towards it. We all love to enjoy the aroma, the delicious taste, and that feeling of taking in caffeine. However, no one considers or thinks about the efforts and hard work that go into making coffee beans. Yes! That’s right “making coffee beans”.
Aren’t coffee beans available in nature?
This is a common misconception that coffee beans are a natural product. Coffee beans are not available in nature, you have to make them by roasting coffee seeds. The way they are roasted also affects the quality of coffee production.
Where do coffee beans come from? Well, first of all, coffee beans come from the seeds of berries from certain plants. The two most famous plants are Coffee Arabica and Coffee Robusta. Coffee plants are evergreen and around five meters tall.
Coffee berries are green, turning to red when ripe. Flowers are white. Each berry contains one or two seeds.
Coffee plantations need a lot of space and water. This brings deforestation, pollution, habitat destruction, and soil and water degradation. Organic coffees were born as a response to these phenomena. Environmental organizations like the Rainforest Alliance campaign for coffee that can be sustainably harvested, without hurting the environment or exploiting local people.
Turning again to our question, where do coffee beans come from, legends say that people from Kaffa, Ethiopia, were the first in recognizing the effects and the aroma of coffee. A goatherd discovered the effects of caffeine when he realized how excited his goats became after eating the red berries.
However, the earliest evidence of coffee drinking comes from Yemen, in Arabia, in the middle of the 15th century. These beans were probably exported from East Africa, which is its region of origin. Coffee first reached the Middle East and North Africa, where it became part of the traditions and culture of Persia, Turkey, Egypt, and Morocco. Then, it arrived in Europe, when Venetian merchants brought it first to Italy.
Coffee was believed to be useful against numerous illnesses, especially those related to the stomach. Only later people started appreciating its characteristic strong, colourful aroma. The first coffee house opened in Rome in 1645, after the Pope declared coffee a Christian beverage. Later, Europeans exported it all over the world. It is now grown in more than 70 countries in the equatorial region, spanning from America to Asia and Africa.
World Regions: where do coffee beans come from?
We are living in a very modern and technologically advanced world. If you ask yourself where do coffee beans come from, it is difficult to give a straightforward answer. As we explained before, these days you can find all sorts of crops all year round.
You can find almost all crops everywhere in the world. However there are still many locations where a certain fruit or vegetable is better than the other region.
The same is the case with coffee beans. If you are asking where do coffee beans come from, then the answer is that certain regions of the world are known to produce better coffee beans than other parts of the world.
All of this is based on the investment they do in taking care of the coffee crops.
So, where do coffee beans come from? When we talk about specific regions of the world, then we can see that coffee is very popular in South and Central America. You can find coffee producers all over the world, but the quality and volume of coffee produced in South and Central American regions like Brazil is considered better than other parts of the world.
As a matter of fact, Brazil is the largest producer of coffee beans in the world and has kept this reputation unchallenged for the past 150 years. So even if you are drinking your coffee on the other side of the planet and you ask yourself where do coffee beans come from, there is a very big chance that the cup of coffee is coming from Brazil.
Other major regions known to produce high volume of coffee are Africa and South East Asia.
Where does coffee come from other than Brazil?
Countries like Cambodia and the Philippines are also large producers of Coffee ad they deserve a mention on the list, followed by Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia, Honduras and India.
However, keep in mind that all these countries (including the South American heavyweight Brazil), don’t just manage to export their coffee out to the world based on the volume of their production, they do so because they care about the quality and they have established, over the decades, a tradition of coffee production.
In fact, it is safe to say the time, effort and money invested in these countries is second to none. So where does coffee come from? Long story short: it comes from hard work.
How are coffee beans made?
When the season is up, the coffee fruits are picked from the plant and their pulp and skin is taken off from the fruit. The skin and pulp are then sent for converting into fertilizer whereas the coffee seeds are sent to processers where they are roasted. The amounts of time the seeds are roasted determine the type and quality of the coffee beans and eventually your delicious beverage.
When we think of where do coffee beans come from, then it’s really important that we talk about how coffee beans are harvested.
That, in fact, depends on the coffee quality. Usually, the seeds are harvested in a selective way.The selection process usually looks at the ripeness or the striping of the fruits.
In the former way, ripe seeds are single-handedly chosen from the plant and harvested. The harvest has a homogeneous level of ripeness. In the latter, the harvest resents varying maturation levels, which make it more abundant, but cheaper. Strip harvesting can be either manual or mechanical.
Of course, when thinking about where do coffee beans come from, you must remember that the more the work is mechanized, the lower the quality of the coffee it is produced. Indeed, the problem with varying levels of maturity is that coffee must be dried before being roasted. Different levels of maturity cause un-uniform drying levels and a lower quality product.
After harvesting, the flesh of the berry is removed and the seeds are fermented. After fermentation, seeds need to be washed with fresh water to remove residue. Before roasting, coffee beans are dried, either by using drying tables, or by pumping heated air on them.
When we ask where do coffee beans come from, then we should also think of how coffee is produced. The process of roasting brings out the aroma and the essence that is still locked inside the green coffee beans. It might seem strange, but coffee beans in nature are green, spongy, and much more similar to the beans we eat in our everyday lives.
Is it important to know about the roasting when you are curious about where do coffee beans come from? Yes, it is, as different coffee varieties are more prone to different levels of roasting.
The roasting process causes the water inside the bean to evaporate, fostering chemical changes by rapidly bringing the bean to very high temperatures. When the roast is completed, the beans are quickly cooled down to stop the process.
Roasting can be divided into three categories, depending on the time the bean spends roasting and on temperature. The stronger (darker in the jargon) the roast, the stronger and richer the taste of the final product. However, contrarily to popular belief, fresher beans contain higher quantities of caffeine.
Seeds can be decaffeinated before roasting. To remove caffeine, producer use hot water, steam, or a solvent that only attacks the caffeine-containing oils. Extracted caffeine can be resold to other industries, like the pharmaceutical one.
Since we’re talking about where do coffee beans come from we should also look at the way they are usually processed. In fact, when it comes to roasting, different techniques are used in the coffee producing regions.
Light roasts are the ones that produce the milder coffee varieties. There is no enough time and heat to make the essential oils within the coffee bean appear on the surface.
Medium roasts are medium brown in colour and present a stronger flavour. However, we still don’t see the oily surface we are used to think of when imagining our espresso beans. This varieties are mainly used for American and Breakfast coffee.
Dark roasts produce beautiful, shiny, black beans with an oily surface and a characteristic bitterness. Indeed, the more a coffee bean is roasted, the less acid the beverage will be. Dark roasts are used for Italian, Portuguese and Turkish coffee. Their strong aroma could kick anyone out of bed and we strongly suggest you try once in a lifetime a proper Italian breakfast. We can assure you that the coffee you will drink standing in a traditional bar will be one of the best coffees of your life.
When you buy it at home, remember to store coffee in an airtight container. Heat, sun, and moisture will spoil your precious beans. There is no sense in asking yourself where do coffee beans come from if you do not take care of the ones you have home!
Names and regions
So where do coffee beans come from and why?
Each region now produces its own coffee variety, obtained through selective breeding or natural selection. If you fancy Benguet coffee, then you like to drink a coffee variety that comes from the Cordillera highlands in the Philippines. The region is also famous for its Sagada, another strong, historical variety of coffee beans.
Blue Mountain comes from Jamaica, but it has now been exported to Kenya and Cameroon, while Bourbon, as the name suggests, comes from the French island of Réunion. Geisha coffee, which is famous for its floral aroma and its high price, comes from Etiopia, which also produces Harar and Sidamo.
Where do coffee beans come from when talking about the famous Kopi luwak? Well, we are now talking about the Indonesian islands of Sumatra, Java, Bali, Sulawesi and from East Timor. This particular variety of coffee is well known to the general public for its price, which ranges from $550 to $700 per kilogram. The high price derives from the fact that the cherries used to produce Kopi luwak are rare and have been first eaten and defecated by the Asian palm civet.
Where do coffee beans come from in this case? Well, from the belly of a furret…
If you liked our article you should also check our previous article on Why you Should Eat Coffee Beans!
Coffee is our passion and that’s what we enjoy talking about, if you have any more questions about where do coffee beans come from feel free to comment below and we will get back to you!