The Coffee Belt
There are nearly seventy countries growing and producing coffee worldwide. From the largest: Brazil in South America, to the smallest: Liberia in East Africa – coffee maintains the livelihoods of nearly 25 million producers. Of the seventy countries, only about fifty actually produce enough to export globally – but where exactly are these countries located and why are they responsible for global coffee production?
Taking a look at the globe – you will see the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. These are two latitudinal locations above and below the Equator. The Coffee Belt is situated right between these regions. The temperature, climate, precipitation, soil, and elevation are all ideal in this region for coffee production. Coffee is a sensitive crop, requiring a number of conditions to successfully grow and produce significant quantities of high-quality coffee.
Coffee trees rely on a specific temperature and precipitation pattern for successful production. In order for coffee to flower, fruit, and ripen properly – the trees must live in temperatures ranging from 18℃ and 24℃. Any warmer or cooler and the coffee may not develop as well as it would in the necessary conditions. Additionally, coffee requires a specific wet and dry season to initiate the flowering process that will lead to fruit development. The soil must also contain nutrients and maintain a healthy moisture content to support the growth of the coffee. Healthy soil is the key to a successful crop – and regions within the Coffee Belt contain nutrient-rich soils able to support the growth of coffee.
Originally, coffee grew in Ethiopia within forests and in fertile soils. Microclimates within this country allow for successful coffee production, and newer coffee-producing countries seek to replicate the original coffee-producing system by planting shade, cover crops, and utilizing highlands.
Here at Mercanta, we buy from twenty countries within this prime growing region, and we hope to expand to more in the future.