Coffee origins

from our selection


Brazil is by far the world's largest coffee producer - in 2010 it produced 48,095 million bags of coffee, more than a third of global production. Coffee was introduced to the country in the early 18th century. Legend has it that in 1927 the Brazilian government sent a fearless soldier - Lt. Col. Francisco de Melo Palheta - to sneak coffee seeds from French Guiana under the pretext of mediating a border conflict. It is said that the lieutenant seduced the governor's wife, who resorted to a cunning gesture, giving her a bouquet full of coffee tree seedlings, during an official farewell dinner.

About two million hectares of the country's surface are covered by coffee, of which the vast majority (over 70%) is the Arabica variety. Much of it is destined for large multinational roasters and is known simply as "Santos" (named after the port in the state of Sao Paulo where it is shipped - it is not a farming region). However, Brazil also produces some truly exceptional microlots, proving that not only small-scale producers can obtain specialty coffee.
As in India, Brazil's thriving middle class has spurred rapid growth in the local market. Consumption has risen by about 5% a year and Brazil could soon overtake the United States and become the world's largest consumer of coffee.

The main cultivated regions are Sul de Minas, Matas de Minas, Cerrado, Chapadas de Minas, Mogiana, Espirito Santo, Paraná and Bahia. An impressive number of varieties are grown here, such as Bourbon, Mondo Novo, Icatú, Catuaí. Farms range in size from small family plantations, with less than 10 hectares to huge properties exceeding 2,000 hectares - some of the largest properties produce more coffee on their own each year than Bolivia's entire production.
Historically, much of the coffee grown in Brazil has been processed using the washing method. But things are changing, the natural dry and peeled (natural pulped) and natural dry (dry) methods are increasingly used. These processes are used to intensify different characteristics of coffee and to highlight different peculiarities. Some large plantations process their coffee by all methods to emphasize the contrasting perspectives of a cup.

The Brazilian Specialty Coffee Association (BSCA) works both internationally and locally to raise the standards of both Brazilian coffee and coffee agriculture. Internationally it promotes high-quality Brazilian coffee and helps growers meet the demanding standards of specialty coffee buyers around the world. At the local level, BSCA works with farms to continuously improve sustainable cultivation practices and provide social assistance to workers.

The peak harvest season varies in different parts of Brazil (usually between May and September) and the coffee from the new crops is delivered over a period of several months, usually between October and April.

Population: 206.44 million

Area cultivated with coffee: 2,302,000 hectares


Stretching around northwestern South America, Colombia enjoys openness to both the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific. Marked by tropical forests and the Andes Mountains, Columbia boasts numerous coffee plantations.

Coffee has been intertwined with the country's history since the expansion of production in the 1870s, but low prices, low profitability of farmers and bad weather and the spread of coffee plant diseases have led to a sharp decline in production. In recent years it has seen a recovery, mainly due to the encouragement of quality production, through better prices for farmers.

Coffees in Colombia are generally produced by small farmers, coffee-processing their own crops. About 60% of the total production comes from farms with cultivation areas under 5 hectares.

The main coffee-producing regions are Huila, Antioquia and Tolima.

The coffee is harvested throughout the year.

Population: 49.12 million

Area cultivated with coffee: 770,000 hectares

Costa Rica

Costa Rica has a long tradition of exporting high quality green coffee dating back to the mid-nineteenth century, when coffee was shipped to England. No later than 1880, specialty coffee was barely understood, production in Costa Rica being largely mixed, not differentiating the types of SHB (strictly hard bean) from HB (hard bean).

Today, Costa Rica has responded to the desire of exporters to have greater traceability and leads the movement of "micro farms", which allows a lot to be identified as coming from a particular farm or plot. The multitude and diversity of micro-climates encountered in the cultivating regions of this small country, located towards the southern extremity of the Central American isthmus, provide a wealth of distinctive flavor characteristics. These are determined by the variety of breans, latitude, altitude, soil type, rainfall and temperature variations. Only Arabica is cultivated, and Robusta plantations are prohibited by law. The most widespread cultivated varieties are Caturra, Catuai, Villa Sarchi, Geisha, Bourbon and Villalobos.

As in neighboring Central America, coffee is most commonly processed by the washing method, although some is dried naturally. More recently, the "semi-washing process" - a method with less water, similar to the Brazilian method by which coffee is peeled and dried naturally - is beginning to be used more and more due to the demand of buyers, especially those in Japan.

The 8 main cultivating regions can be defined as follows:

Tarrazú (33% of production)
Altitude: 1200-1700m
This well-known traditional region produces coffee varieties with very high but refined acidity, due to the favorable soil and altitude, but also the method of washing, a process that removes much of the sugars and amplifies the acidity.

Western Valley (25% of production)
Altitude: 1200-1700m
This region produces probably the perfect varieties of coffee in the country and is one of the latest regions in which coffee is grown. The coffee varieties in this area have been very well highlighted by the winners of the "Cup of Excellence" tenders, thanks to the special work carried out by the multitude of micro-farms. This allowed these award-winning varieties to be kept and spread further. Much of the Villa Sarchi and Villalobos varieties are grown in this region.

Central Valley (15% of production)
Altitude: 1000-1200m
Coffee plantations in this region are some of the oldest in Costa Rica, but are rapidly disappearing due to population pressure and industrial development. A certain variety of Bourbon is still grown in the Central Valley.

Tres Rios (2% of production, decreasing)
Altitude: 1000-1650m
This region north of the capital San Jose is rapidly disappearing and many coffee farms are surrendering to economic pressure and selling to real estate developers eager to build new homes.

Brunca (20% of production)
Altitude: 800-1200m
The region produces, at the highest altitudes, a high quality specialty coffee, but most of the production is HB (hard bean) and is grown in large cooperatives that promote fair trade (Fairtrade).

The remaining 5% of coffee grown in Costa Rica is found in Guanacaste, Orosi and Turrialba at lower altitudes, around 600-900m.

The coffees are harvested between December and March and shipped between April and July.

Population: 4.57 million
Area cultivated with coffee: 93,000 hectares


Coffee arrived late in Ecuador. In the Manabi area, it arrived in 1860 and in the following years coffee production began to spread throughout the country. Exports began in 1905 through the port of Manta.

After various diseases ravaged the cocoa crops in 1920, farmers turned to coffee. Until 1970 coffee was the main product exported by Ecuador. In the meantime, it has been replaced by bananas and shrimps.

The main coffee growing regions are: Manabi, Loja, El Oro, Zamora Chinchipe and Galapagos.

Population: 16.14 million

El Salvador

Coffee was first commercially produced in El Salvador in 1850. It quickly became popular with farmers. Thus, it quickly played an important role in the country's economy as the main export good. In 1880 El Salvador was the fourth country in terms of annual coffee production volume.

Those in El Salvador have moved from cultivating indigo to growing coffee. To grow indigo you needed a certain field that was under the influence of an elite. Not all farmers had access to these lands. On the other hand, coffee was not so pretentious and the land for growing it was more easily accessible.

Coffee has played an important role in growing infrastructure, developing highways, ports, and public buildings.

Prior to the Civil War, quality was a priority. But wild varietals (Heirloom) have been replaced by others that have a higher yield.

El Salvador coffee has the potential to be very sweet. Lately, the focus on quality has started to become a priority for some farms again.

The country's infrastructure that is being developed helps to easily identify farms and processing methods. This positively influences the development of microlots that are sweet and complex in terms of flavors.

Population: 6,134,000
Multiple of 60 kg bags produced in 2013: 844,000


Ethiopia produces some of the most exceptional and dramatic varieties of coffee in the world. From the bright notes of bergamot and Yirgacheffe coffee flowers to the fruity notes of Harrar coffee, these unique flavors have recently begun to fetch the prices they deserve in export markets. The wet and dry processes used give these coffees their distinctive characteristics. The peak months of the harvests are October and December.

Only Arabica coffee is grown, but the variety of individual varieties - many still unidentified - and the large volume, about 350,000 tonnes per year, make the cumulative production in Kenya and Tanzania seem insignificant. The main regions where specialty coffee is grown are Harrar, Limu, Djima, Yirgacheffe and Sidamo. Much of the country's production is concentrated around the Djima region, although this is a commercial quality coffee. Ethiopia relies heavily on coffee as an important source of income and accounts for almost 10% of export earnings. About 15 million Ethiopians are employed in the country's coffee industry. There are few large farms but 90% of the coffee is grown by small growers.

Ethiopia is one of the few cultivating countries that consumes much of its domestic production. Other countries in this situation are Brazil, Colombia, India and the Dominican Republic. Until December 2008 growers were able to sell their coffee directly to export markets but this was regulated, and the difficulty of determining the exact origin - a fundamental aspect of specialty coffee - was a huge frustration for buyers in the consumer markets.

In April 2008, the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) set up a platform for the marketing of undifferentiated crops such as wheat, maize, sesame and beans. Later, coffee was also brought under this roof, partly to allow the government to collect some of the profits from this crop.

Upon arrival at the ECX, the coffee is repackaged and then graded according to its profile, any source information being effectively lost at this point.

Although this intervention does not lead to a decrease in quality - on the contrary, it could result in a better and more consistent combination - and could help to ensure higher prices for growers, categorizing coffee only according to taste means that, most importantly, the buyer cannot locate the coffee grower, cooperative or region. This is the aspect that upsets buyers, since regional characteristics have become a defining criterion of specialty coffee.

At present, about 90% of Ethiopia's entire coffee crop is sold through ECX and only in the case of large cooperatives are exceptions made. Importers and roasters continue to press the ECX to ensure greater transparency with the hope that traceability will soon be restored and that individual growers producing exceptional quality coffee will receive the recognition they deserve.

Update 2018: Starting this season, farmers are again allowed to select and sell individual lots, this decision allowing them to obtain higher prices for lots of higher quality.


Coffee has helped accelerate the country's economy for over 100 years. Today there are about 125.000 coffee producers and coffee remains one of the main exported products, accounting for 40% of total export earnings from agriculture.

Coffee covers almost the entire area of Guatemala and is grown in 20 of the country's 22 departments. About 270.000 hectares are covered by coffee and it is almost entirely (98%) cultivated in the shade. The coffee is almost exclusively Arabica and is most often processed by the washing method. The main varieties are Bourbon, Maragogype, Tipica, Caturra, Catuaí, Catucaí, Pache and Pacamara.

Guatemala benefits from high altitudes and a number of 300 unique micro-climates, the precipitations being constant and the soils rich in minerals.

Since the early 1990s, Anacafé (Asociacion Nacional del Cafe) has been leading the way in defining coffee-producing regions according to their profile, climate, soil and altitude. As a result of this ambitious project 8 distinct regions cultivated with SHB (strictly hard bean) coffee were identified in Guatemala - Acatenango Valley, Antigua Atitlán, Cobán, Fraijanes Plateau, Huehuetenango, Nuevo Oriente and San Marcos.

The main harvesting season lasts from December to March and can continue until April in the case of the higher altitudes in Huehuetenango, and the shipment takes place between April and July.

Many believe that in Guatemala coffee was introduced by the Jesuits in 1750 although there is evidence of coffee consumption in the country since 1747.

As in El Salvador, coffee became more important after the introduction of chemical dyes and the demand for indigo decreased.

The government has made educational materials available to farmers to properly determine the price and quality of the product. In 1868 the Government distributed one million coffee seeds, an additional effort to stimulate this industry.

Until 1880 coffee accounted for 90% of the country's exports.

Guatamela coffee is characterized by a wide range of flavors: from very light coffee to very sweet and complex, to more intense coffee to chocolate.

Guatemalan coffees are characterized by altitude in the following areas:
"Raw": raised up to 750-900m
"Extra premium"; increased between 900-1.050m
"Semi hard bean": increased between 1.050-1.220m
"Hard bean HB": increased between 1.220-1.300m
"Strictly hard bean SHB": raised over 1.300m

Population: 15.438.000
Multiple of 60 kg bags produced in 2013: 3.143.000

Many of Guatemala's farmers have their own processing stations, which helps the lots to be correctly traced.


The cultivation of coffee bushes in the Republic of Honduras began in the late 19th century. While in other countries coffee plantations were numerous at the time, in Honduras they were very few in number. The soils, climate and conditions in the region are the same as in Guatemala, Nicaragua or Costa Rica. One of the great disadvantages of the area was the lack of means of transport but also hard to reach roads to the coast.

Historically, in Honduras, coffee along with bananas ranked first in exports, and by 2014/2015 the country became the top cultivator in Central America and number 7 in the world, with a number of over 5 millions of bags of Arabica varieties. To date, almost all Honduran productions have reached the commercial market, and the country has been renowned primarily as an exporter of low-priced commercial coffees. During the 1990s, while its Central American neighbors became known for producing high-quality batches, Honduras regressed in specialty coffee production. The relief of the country undoubtedly had the necessary conditions for a high quality degree, with fertile soils, suitable microclimates and with most farms located at an altitude of over 1000m. However, the lack of processing infrastructure and quality control has given the country a bad reputation for coffee quality. Another element that affected coffee production was Hurricane Mitch in 1998, when the storm destroyed more than 80% of the country's agriculture.

A tax on coffee exports was introduced in the late 1990s and early 2000s, which helped to establish and develop road infrastructure in cultivated areas as well as processing methods.

Therefore, today, more than 100.000 families in Honduras are involved in coffee production.

Honduras is struggling with a rather rainy climate, with abundant and long-lasting rainfall, the drying of the crop being a major problem for many producers, the coffee fruits being prone to excessive fermentation. Instead, producers are encouraged by IHCAFE to use greenhouses, known as "domes" or solariums, to dry their specialty batches.

The country was divided into six well-defined regions. Each region has its own coffee testing laboratory, sponsored by IHCAFE, offering farmers a free evaluation service. These six main regions are in turn divided into different micro-regions, delimited by geographical areas and cup profiles.

Copán, northwest on the border with Guatemala and El Salvador
1.000-1.500 meters altitude
Harvest season: November - March
Varieties: Bourbon, Caturra, Catuai

Marcala-Montecillos, southwest
1.200-1.600 meters altitude
Harvest season: December - April
Varieties: Bourbon, Catuai, Caturra, Pacas

Opalca, northwest
1.100-1.500 meters altitude
Harvest season: November - February
Varieties: Bourbon, Catuai, Typica

Agalta tropical, northern and eastern
1.300-1.950 meters altitude
Harvest season: December - March
Varieties: Bourbon, Caturra, Typica

Comayagua, center-west
1.000-1.500 meters altitude
Harvest season: December - March
Varieties: Bourbon, Caturra, Typica

Paradise, southeast
950-1.950 meters altitude
Harvest season: December - March
Varieties: Catuai, Caturra


Coffee cultivation was introduced to Kenya by the British around 1900 through Ethiopia. Agriculture remains the main engine of the economy, employing about 75% of the population and contributing to 50% of the country's exports (dominated by coffee and tea).

Currently, the main cultivated regions are located in the central mountainous region of Kenya, on the high plateau north and northeast of the capital Nairobi, on the southern slope of Mount Kenya, in the north, on the submontane hills of the Aberdare Mountains to the west. Most of the coffee in this country (about 55%) is produced by over 600.000 smallholders, organized in several hundred cooperatives. The rest of the production in the country is made of medium and large properties and a large part of them have their own wet or sometimes dry processing units.

In Kenya only Arabica is cultivated. In the 1950s several highly successful hybrids from Scott Laboratories were introduced and largely replaced the original French Bourbon fund brought to Kenya from neighboring Ethiopia. The best known are SL28 (Scott Laboratory) and SL34 - these are Bourbon varieties and give Kenya its distinctive consistency and fruity notes of blackcurrant and wine for which it is famous. The country's location at the equator allows it to have two harvests a year - the main crop from November to December and a secondary crop from April to June. The coffee is usually completely washed, then dried in the sun on raised patios - often known as "African beds".

The coffee industry in Kenya is organized around a weekly system of open, government-regulated auctions dating back to 1934. This transparent system has established a price-based hierarchy of quality, with high-quality batches attracting higher prices. The auctions, which take place at the Nairobi Coffee Exchange, are generally considered to be the most transparent pricing and distribution system for high quality green coffee in the world of coffee, and has been an inspiration for the auction model within “Cup of Excellence”. There is often fierce competition for the best batches, especially those from better-known states and cooperatives, and for AA-class beans. The classifications, however, represent a simple measure of grain size, not defect tolerance (AA is class 17/18, AB is class 15/16 with a tolerance of 10% below class 15).

Before each auction, samples from each lot are distributed to the approximately 50 licensed exporters (or “members”) of the Nairobi Coffee Exchange where they are tasted and, most often, sent to their customers. After selection, an agent bids in favor of the exporter to ensure the necessary consignments.

At the end of 2006, the new legislation allowed coffee sales to be negotiated directly between producers and buyers - until now the bidding platform was mandatory. This new system, known as the "second window", was the result of pressure from several farmers and cooperatives, who argued that the auction system encouraged the existence of a long chain of intermediaries that reduced farmers' incomes. However, proponents of the auction believe that the auction promotes a highly efficient pricing mechanism - corruption at the cooperative's management level is often the real barrier between funds and producers.

The government has licensed more than 30 independent marketers who are now allowed to sell green coffee directly to foreign buyers, bypassing the auction system. Until this change in 2006 all brewed Kenyan coffee was sold through three marketing agents, who charged the producer a commission for the services provided. These new licensees must meet certain conditions before they can be licensed, including storage standards and a bank guarantee to ensure that farmers are paid.

Today, many of Kenya's small farmers still have to make their way directly to the international market, although this situation is gradually changing. In the meantime, the auction system continues to operate in parallel, is open to all producers and is still the way in which about 90-95% of Kenya's coffee is sold.

Finally, we should point out that when making a purchase through the auction system, it can be difficult to obtain information on the precise origin of the coffee. The situation is changing as the Kenyan market - both through bidding and through new licensed marketers - adapts to the needs and demands of specialty coffee roasters and their customers.


It is said that coffee first arrived and was cultivated in Mexico in the late 1700s. It was introduced by the Spanish, who brought with them shrubs from Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

However, many years later the coffee industry began to grow and constantly export its products, and this was the case in the late 1800s.

During this period, Mexican coffee was cultivated near the border with Guatemala, a situation that generated disputes among farmers, a conflict resolved over time by European investors, who purchased land they cultivated, applying development strategies on long term.

It was not until the 20th century that many small farmers began to grow coffee bushes seriously, responding to a demand in the foreign market which was a viable opportunity to earn income. Over the years, the coffee market has grown significantly, with Mexico becoming one of the largest producers of organically processed coffee beans in the world. In 2000, the country produced 60% of the total amount of certified organic coffee worldwide.

Due to its ideal location, between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, the country has benefited from the best conditions for growing shrubs, which bloom here three or four times a year. According to AMCAFE, most shrubs, about 40% are grown in forest areas at high and medium altitudes.

As in many other countries, coffee in Mexico is traded and exported through a cooperative system, which brings farmers together and provides them with the best possible price for batches. Despite its fragmented beginnings, the Mexican coffee market has expanded significantly, in the 2011/12 season the country produced about 5.6 million bags of beans of 69 kg, exporting 52% of them.

As a share in the total economy of the country, coffee revenues represent only 0.26%, some of the most successful coffee-producing states, Oaxaca, Veracruz, Puebla and Chiapas, producing 90% of the total quantity, with a significant impact on the local economy.

These four states produce coffee with a very different aromatic and gustatory profile, the one in Oaxaca is reminiscent of milk chocolate and almonds while the beans from Veracruz are very sweet, with notes of roasted hazelnuts. In Puebla, the coffee bear fine flavours of nuts and caramel, and in Chiapas the tasting notes often found are dark chocolate and cherries.


Panama's coffee production is tiny compared to some of the largest coffee-producing countries. In the 2013/14 season the country exported only 45.000 bags, a small amount given that there are farms in Brazil that produce this quantity alone. However, its reputation in the specialty industry far exceeds the quantitative supply, which is largely due to the fact that it is home to the coveted Geisha / Gesha variety. In addition, the country's best producers have developed and perfected unique processing methods, such as dry processing similar to winemaking, and offer many exceptional batches.

The history of Panamanian coffee began in the late 19th century, when European immigrants settled in the area, bringing coffee with them. Chiriqui Province, the valley of the moon in the language of the indigenous peoples who once lived in this region, is located in the western tip of the country and was the first coffee-growing area. There are currently three main coffee-producing areas, at altitudes between 1.000 and 1.600 meters, Boquete being the oldest and best known. Another area is Volcán, located on the steep southwest slopes of Barú Volcano. Renacimiento is the third and least known area due to its hard to reach position.

The most important factors that have contributed to the quality of the coffee, especially for the Boquete and Volcán area, are the very well organized transports, the infrastructure of the processing methods, through the efficient washing and dry peeling stations. The relief of Panama is quite unique, with mountainous areas and volcanic soils rich in nutrients, together forming different microclimates throughout the country. The winds blow over the mountains on the north side, forming a fine mist called "bajareque", which acts as a huge air conditioner, stopping the ripening of coffee cherries and eventually contributing to sweet and complex cups.

According to the USDA, Panama's production steadily declined from about 200.000 bags per year in the mid-1990s to 95.000 bags in 2014/15, of which less than half is exported. However, many of the country's most important farms are growing. Panama's volcanic soil, altitude and climatic conditions provide an environment conducive to the production of specialty coffee. Indeed, thanks to this ideal environment and high standards for quality, farmers have chosen to plant varieties with special aromatic profiles, such as Caturra, Typica, Bourbon, Catuai, San Ramon and of course Geisha, which helped to place the country on map when it comes to specialty coffee.

One of the main factors that creates the enthusiasm around Panamanian coffee is this attention to detail throughout the process, from fruit picking and farm maintenance to processing. Panama coffee producers are well known for the production of small batches, resulting from both the relatively small size of individual farms and the final price of the coffees that farms receive.

The variety synonymous with exceptional quality is Geisha, which has an Ethiopian origin and was first brought to Panama from the CATIE agricultural research point in Costa Rica in 1963 by Pachi Serracin (known as Don Pachi) with hope that the variety is resistant to rust ("leaf rust", "roya"), a disease that affects the leaves of coffee crops in Central America.

Early attempts to grow this special variety, which grows so well at high altitudes, were unsuccessful, but after planting the shrubs at low altitudes, where rust was most likely to occur, a very poor quality coffee was obtained. The variety fell into disfavor for several decades, although some shrubs survived on several farms in Costa Rica and Panama, the cherries obtained were mixed with the rest of the varieties and thus their distinctive flavor was lost.

It was not until 2004 that Geisha was "rediscovered" when Panamanian farm Finca Esmeralda isolated Geisha tree production and entered the "Taste of Panama" coffee competition that year. Not only did the Geisha team win, but its extraordinary profile, similar to that of Yirgacheffe's excellent coffee in Ethiopia, completely enchanted coffee tasters. Since then Panama has been known for a high quality Geisha / Gesha, thanks to the inspiration and support given to other farmers by the team at Finca Esmerelda.

From a historical and current point of view, Panama is known for attracting investors from all over the world, who have come to invest their capital in coffee farms. It is an attractive investment not only because of the delicious taste of the coffee that the climate offers, but also because of the amazing natural landscapes. However, investment also threatens the specialty coffee industry as land prices rise and new developments spread to rural areas, increasing the pressure on coffee farms.

Papua New Guinea

Coffee cultivation is the engine of the economy in Papua New Guinea, involving 2.5 million people annually, almost half of the country's population. Coffee is the main source of income for many farmers, with the country exporting about 1 million bags of coffee annually.

Coffee bush culture was introduced to Papua New Guinea (PNG) in the late 19th century in direct connection with the country's colonial history. It is said to have been first planted in the country by Emma Coe Forsayth or "Queen Emma", as she was known to German settlers, a businesswoman of mixed American and Samoan descent. Emma, with the help of her brother-in-law Richard Parkinson, a German botanist, owned large cocaine and coconut plantations in the Kokopo district of East New Britain (ENBP), and along with their planting, they also cultivated coffee.

The first official coffee harvest was recorded in 1890, in a report by the colonial government. In 1897, nearly 20.000 Arabica coffee bushes were planted on the farm known as "Variarata," near what is now a national park outside Moresby Harbor. By 1901 the farm began exporting to Australia, fetching prices between 4 pence and 10 pence per kilogram.

Although very successful in the commercial market, most shrubs were planted for experimentation. Only in the 1920s were considerable efforts made to increase production. The most widespread variety was Robusta but in 1928 the Arabica variety was planted as an experiment at the agricultural department of the colonial government in Wau, Morobe. In 1931 the culture was sold to the German entrepreneur Carl Leopold Bruno Wilde. He renamed the farm Blue Mountain Coffee and began to develop its production for both domestic consumption and export. Much of the coffee produced in the PNG Highlands comes from this farm.

From the Blue Mountain farm the coffee was transported to a colonial research station in the Aiyura Valley in the Eastern Highlands. Over the years, the station distributed coffee beans in all mountainous areas, the climatic conditions and the soil being conducive to its development. Commercial coffee production in PNG increased considerably in the years after the war, between 1951 and 1965, the areas planted with coffee increased from 147 to 4.800 hectares, an increase of over 3000%. However, although PNG still has a lot of land available, planting coffee bushes in mountainous areas has opened up the smallholder industry, which has made PNG one of the world's largest coffee-producing countries. Currently, small farms represent at least 85% of the coffee grown in the country, most cultivating Arabica (95% of the country's production) at altitudes above 1.500 meters.

As in other mountain areas, the lack of basic infrastructure such as roads and limited access to training were impediments that limited production in the country for many years. Coffee Industry Corporation Limited (CIC), PNG's coffee commission, has worked to regulate a sustainable, quality industry and provide research services. This has led to an overall increase in the quality of coffee in recent years and the increasing participation of PNG in the specialty market.


In Peru coffee was introduced in the middle of the 18th century through its neighbor, Ecuador, and was exported only at the end of the century. Production increased considerably at the beginning of the 20th century, the country being indebted to the British Government, returning as repayment over two million hectares of land, under the name of "Peruvian Country". During that period a quarter of this land was used for agricultural purposes, including the cultivation of coffee bushes. At first coffee was grown on large lands which belonged to a rich elite, mostly in Europe, but as workers migrated from other areas such as the high plateaus, to provide the necessary labor force on these farms, they began to cultivate their own land because the available area was vast.

After the Second World War, British companies left the country and coffee cultivation was continued by these small producers. The trend was strengthened in the 1950s and 1960s as the Peruvian government engaged in land reform and encouraged the cultivation of coffee as part of a socio-economic development plan. That plan, well adapted to small-scale agriculture, has led to a shift in coffee production within the country, with small producers responsible for most of the country's coffee production.

The military dictatorships, from the beginning of the 20th century to the middle of it, supported this profile by the partial collectivization of the country's producers, certainly one of the only good legacies of the time. Between 1970 and 1980, under the volume system established under the International Coffee Agreement (ICA), profits were successfully channeled to state-backed coffee cooperatives, which were responsible for the export of 80% of production. Of course, most of the profit was put into the government treasury, the satisfaction was high, but the structural improvements in the field were few.

Fujimori's structural adjustment policies since the 1980s have further eroded autonomy and urban development, leading to a major economic crisis. The ensuing crisis hit the coffee bush culture quite hard as all agricultural areas were affected. In coffee production there was a weak investment of capital and labor, and many farmers moved from rural to urban, relatively safer, which led to the breakdown of commercial networks, already weakened.

In the mid-1990s this downward trend was reversed by the "ethical" trend of coffee, and a growing interest in specialty coffee developed.

The "Solidarity" networks have equitably favored organic certified coffee, generating an explosion of coffee production in the country, despite the very low price of the past. Shrubland increased from 163 thousand hectares in 1995 to 215 thousand hectares by 2005. With the exception of Brazil, Peru is the only country in Latin America that has increased production in the period of low prices. Imports of specialty coffee, including certified organic coffee, began in 1997 and gradually increased, contributing to the country's current status as the seventh largest producer in the world. However, in 2013/14 and 2014/15, exports fell by more than 40% and production by 30%, largely due to the disease "rust" of the leaves of coffee bushes, having a major impact on production. Much of the coffee is grown without pesticides or fungicides.

Peru is currently the largest exporter of organic coffee in the world with about 90.000 hectares of certified organic. This was primarily due to a lack of resources for investments in fertilizers and chemical fertilizers. Around 223.000 Peruvian families have produced about 425.000 hectares of coffee production, and another 300.000 people are involved in the coffee industry. Production remains centered in the Cajamarca region in the north of the country, where half of all coffee in the country is grown here. The most commonly cultivated varieties are Typica and Caturra.

Today, coffee production in Peru is small, with farms of average size of less than three hectares. With this structure inevitably arose difficulties specific to this stage such as access to investment credits and poor management of the processing stages. Cooperatives have helped producers mitigate risks and gain access to essential resources for harvesting. Today, much of Peru's coffee is collected from small farms and then merged before being processed and marketed through these cooperatives, the largest of which are 2.000 farmers and 7.000 hectares. Although many of these cooperatives have placed particular emphasis on improving processing, there is still need of more sustained effort in this regard. This context in production and quality, together with the lack of existing infrastructure has given the country an unfavorable reputation. However, a quarter of Peruvian coffee is grown at altitudes between 1.200 and 2.000 meters, with 28 microclimates.

The country has great potential to improve the regional identity of coffee and to develop better traceability of specialty coffee and a few small producers are already succeeding in obtaining exceptional coffee lots.


Located almost in the center of the African continent, Rwanda is a country with fertile, mountainous and compact land. Officially it is the country with the most dense population of the continent, being inhabited since the Iron Age. The majority of the population of 11 million is rural and about 90% of Rwandans work in agriculture, much of this activity being for subsistence.

Coffee was brought to the country by German settlers in 1904 but the growth of commercial production increased much later, in the 1930s under Belgian rule. The main objective of the Belgian colonial government was to cover as large an area as possible with coffee bushes, a situation which led to high production but poor quality, and this was a trap for many producers at the time. For many years Rwanda had a reputation for producing very low-quality coffee and during the economic crisis, the political turmoil of the 1980s and the 1994 genocide, coffee production was mostly uniform.

It is considered one of the most stable countries in the region, with its economy growing at an annual average of 7-8% since 2003. Coffee production, tea exports and tourism have been key factors in economic development.

Economic growth has been due to strong government support for the coffee sector, export-friendly trade rules, international investors, various NGOs and private companies that have invested in this sector.

Unlike East Africa, Rwanda does not have large properties, most of its coffee is grown by about 400.000 small farmers and their families. Most own less than a quarter of a hectare of land, with a total production area of 42.000 hectares. Almost all coffee production in Rwanda is Arabica, 95% being one of the Bourbon varieties. This is strictly supervised by the country's government which controls the introduction of varieties to protect the market.

In terms of specialty Rwanda is a small producer but with extraordinary potential when it comes to coffee quality. Despite government and international support, the country's industry is facing major difficulties affecting coffee productivity. The peak was harvested in the 2003/2004 season with almost 450.000 bags, but starting in 2013/14 their number decreased to 250.000. This sharp decline was mainly due to diseases and pests that severely affected coffee bushes. The country tried to promote the Red Bourbon variety for export, some toasters and importers were probably scared by the appearance of the "potato" defect that severely affected the region. Rwandan producers have had to make large investments in washing, processing and sorting stations to ensure that the affected grains are removed before dry hulling.

Many new washing stations have appeared since 2001, allowing local cooperatives and groups to process staff and sell them to international buyers at higher prices. At the end of 2013 the country had 220 washing stations. Before the multiplication of these washing stations, the norm in Rwanda was for small farmers to sell cherries to an intermediary, the market being dominated by a single exporter, thus the price being less flexible.

The transport of coffee is very difficult, the beans from Rwanda being first sent over 1.500 km to Mombasa, Kenya or Dar-es-Salam, Tanzania, a process that usually involves higher costs than the final transport from Africa to Europe.


Lesser known Tanzania produces almost the same amount of coffee annually as its more famous neighbor, Kenya. Arabica coffee beans were first brought to the country from Reunion Island and planted in the Bayamoyo and Mogoro regions, near Dar Es Salaam.

After the First World War Tanzania (at that time Tanganyka) became a British colony, coffee being introduced in the western parts of the country, but production remains limited. With independence in 1961, one of the main economic strategies of the new government was to increase production. Many larger farms were nationalized and became state-run through cooperatives. The system was not efficient at all, nor were the expected economic results. Subsequently, multiparty democracy was introduced, the industry being liberalized, taking mostly the form that it still has today. The recovery has been slow and the general opinion is that even today it has not reached its true potential in terms of high quality coffee.

Coffee bushes are grown in almost all mountainous regions of the country. Many wild coffee varieties are still being discovered, the most recent being Coffea Kihansiensis from the Udzungwa Mountains. In the main growing areas Mara, Kilimanjaro, Ruvuma, Mbeya, Kigoma, Arusha, Manyara, Bukoba and Kagera are cultivated both Arabica, harvested in July-December and processed in the wet state, and Robusta harvested in April-November and processed by the natural method.

Tanzania's economy is largely based on agriculture, providing employment for about 90% of the available labor force, and accounts for almost 85% of exports, with coffee in second place after tobacco. Most of the coffee is cultivated by small producers, with plots of around 5 hectares, obtaining almost 90% of the entire harvest of the country, the rest belonging to cooperatives. 75% of the production volume is Arabica. Today, about 450.000 homeowners grow coffee for a better living standard and they also support another 4.5 million family members of those who work on farms. Due to the profile of the typical producer, the sustainability of the industry is being tested, and to solve these specific problems TCB has developed a strategy adopted in 2001 and revised in 2012, which focuses on increasing high quality coffee production to about 100.000 tons by the year 2021, which would mean that at that time at least 70% of the coffee produced in Tanzania would be placed on the specialty markets. Also, as an extension of this goal, the Tanzania Coffee Research Institute, TaCRI, was established with two main objectives: to improve farmers' livelihoods and to further develop a sustainable, profitable and prosperous coffee industry. As part of these goals, the institute aims to replant the 200 million coffee bushes across the country with improved varieties.