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    Where does coffee come from? Worldwide coffee producers and consumers

    Home / News / Where does coffee come from? Worldwide coffee producers and consumers

    Coffee is deeply rooted in the culture of many populations. If it did not exist, our habits and lifestyles would be, at least in part, different. Let’s discover its history in a journey from bean to cup.

    Coffee varieties

    Coffee is a beverage with a thousand personalities and nuances. The differences between the types of coffee are related to the origin of the coffee beans and the roasting process, which give each variety unmistakable traits of taste, aroma, acidity, body, and intensity.

    There are four main coffee varieties in the world:

    • Arabica: accounts for 70% of the coffee produced worldwide. It is characterised by a delicate taste, fruity aroma, soft and light body, and medium intensity.
    • Robusta: is characterised by dark-coloured beans with a rounded shape. It has a strong taste, a spicy aroma, full-bodied intensity, and contains a high level of caffeine.
    • Liberica: takes its name from the area where the plant is grown, namely the forests of West Africa. Despite its particularly aromatic and pleasant taste, this variety is considered to be of inferior quality. It is also difficult to grow because it requires a lot of water and high temperatures.
    • Excelsa: this is the least used variety; although it is stronger than the other plants, it needs very long and demanding treatment both during cultivation and harvest. The coffee beans, in fact, have to be picked one by one and this obviously requires more time and money.

    How is coffee grown?

    The cultivation of coffee requires specific climatic conditions: moderate temperatures, high humidity, well-drained soils, and a certain altitude – elements found between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Coffee plants take three to four years to produce their first fruits, called drupes, which contain two berries, from which the beans are then obtained. In the wild, coffee plants bear fruit for up to 50 or 60 years, but for commercial purposes they are rarely used for more than 20 years, after which the yield decreases.

    Sustainability and innovation in the coffee industry

    In the coffee industry, sustainability and innovation are key to addressing climate and environmental challenges and improving production efficiency. This has led to the development of sustainable cultivation techniques for coffee, including the use of organic fertilisers, water conservation and the planting of trees to shade coffee plants and prevent soil erosion. Organisations such as Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance certify farms that comply with certain environmental and social standards, guaranteeing decent working conditions and protection of the ecosystem.

    Innovation is seen in the use of advanced technologies for coffee traceability, ensuring transparency and fairness throughout the supply chain, and in the development of new products that meet the growing demand for ethical and quality coffee.

    Main coffee producing countries

    Being the third most consumed beverage in the world after water and tea, it is not surprising that coffee beans are in high demand almost everywhere. As stated by the International Coffee Organisation, 169.6 million 60-kilogram bags of coffee were produced globally in 2020, with the ten largest producing nations holding as much as 87% of the entire market[1]. Here is the podium of the leading coffee manufacturers in the world:

    • Brazil: unquestionably the king of producing countries, responsible for about one third of global production. The favourable climate and vast cultivable areas allow large-scale production of Arabica and Robusta.
    • Vietnam: the country became acquainted with coffee during European domination. Today, it produces mainly the Robusta variety. Vietnamese coffee is often used in instant blends and has a strong, distinctive flavour.
    • Colombia: produces Arabica coffee in its finest sub-varieties. Cultivations are often entrusted to small independent farms, organised in consortia, and still harvested by hand.

    From bean to cup: consumption of coffee by country

    Global coffee consumption is growing steadily. According to the International Coffee Organisation (ICO), demand for coffee has increased by about 2% per year in recent decades, driven not only by traditional markets but also by emerging countries such as China and India, where coffee is gaining popularity.

    Among the worldwide biggest consumers of coffee are European and Nordic countries: Finland has the highest per capita consumption, followed by Norway, Iceland, Denmark, and the Netherlands. In the United States, coffee is a cult drink, especially in filtered form. Brazil is not only a big producer but also a regular consumer of this beverage.

    Italy, the home of espresso, ranks seventh in the world, with 95 million cups of coffee sipped every day, or an average of 1.6 per inhabitant[2]. Here De Roccis is one of the most important coffee producers.

    Coffee is more than a drink

    Coffee is for sure more than a drink: it is a cultural phenomenon reflecting the traditions, innovations, and challenges of an interconnected world. Its future evolution promises new ways of appreciation and sustainability, keeping alive the fascination and passion that millions of people feel for this timeless beverage.

    [1] Source: Coffee Development Report | International Coffee Organization (icocoffee.org)

    [2] Source: Il settore del caffè in Italia e nel mondo (ed. 2023) | Area Studi Mediobanca

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