The Ultimate Guide to the Coffee Belt - all the facts and detailsPublished Date:
Ever wondered where your cup of coffee comes from? The answer is probably the Coffee Belt! There is just one zone on the entire planet where coffee plants can thrive. But luckily, this specific geographical area named Coffee Belt is an extensive one. Many coffee-producing countries from different continents are part of the Coffee Belt map, and of course, these places are the ones where you can find the best coffee in the world.
Where is the Coffee Belt located?
To fully understand where we can find the best coffee in the world, let’s first recall The Equator; the horizontal line that crosses the planisphere at the midway point and splits up the Earth into the northern and southern hemispheres.
The Coffee Belt is an imaginary band located exactly between the latitudes 25 degrees North (25°N) and 30 degrees South (30°S) of the Equator, within the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.
The Coffee Belt map stretches from the Americas (including some coffee-producing countries in North America, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America) to Asia, passing through Africa.
What coffee-producing countries are on the Coffee Belt map?
Nearly seventy coffee-producing countries from different continents are located on the Coffee Belt map, so there are plenty of countries responsible for the best coffee in the world.
All the countries in the Coffee Belt map produce diverse types of coffee and have very different production yields. Now, let’s review and organize the main coffee-producing countries by their continents.
North America & The Caribbean’s coffee-producing countries
The only Coffee Belt country located in the continent of North America is one of the biggest coffee-producing countries. Some of the best coffee in the world is produced on several (over 100,000) small farms in the Mexican states of Oaxaca, Veracruz, and Chiapas, across different altitudes.
Some of the best coffee in the world can be found on these gorgeous islands as well, more specifically on the Kona island. Full of volcanoes, which makes the soil extremely nutritious and fertile, Hawaii provides one of the most propitious climates within the Coffee Belt.
The Coffee Belt contains another beautiful island, Puerto Rico. It was one of the most important coffee-producing countries in the past until a few hurricanes and the high competition forced it to slow down its production. Luckily, Puerto Rico has resurfaced as a coffee producer and now gives us some of the best coffee in the world with a high-quality standard.
Central America’s coffee-producing countries
Costa Rica is known for the high quality of its coffee production. It is not a large country, but the richness of its volcanic soil and the quality processes used, ensure that we can find some of the best coffee in the world there.
This country might not be as famous as the others on the Coffee Belt map, but Guatemala is actually a secret paradise for the best coffee in the world thanks to the diverse landscape and microclimates found there.
With more modesty than any of the prior coffee-producing countries, Honduras takes the crown from its neighbors year after year as the biggest coffee producer in Central America.
South America’s coffee-producing countries
The king of the coffee-producing countries! Brazil is the biggest coffee bean exporter on the Coffee Belt map and the planet. The best coffee in the world is planted on enormous land surfaces and employs a large number of people. Why not try Fazenda Eldorado single-origin Brazilian Coffee and taste it for yourself?
There is no way you could have missed hearing about Colombian coffee. Indeed, the most famous and proud coffee-producing country is also the second-largest coffee bean producer in the world. Want to know what the buzz is about? Try the full-bodied Inga Aponte single-origin Colombian Coffee.
Africa’s coffee-producing countries
Certainly, a well-known country for its coffee, Kenya stands out from the other coffee-producing countries because of its incomparable quality. Their top-notch coffee is the result of extensive research and study throughout the years, and a lot of pride and effort put into the production.
Did you know that Ethiopia is actually coffee’s place of origin? That’s right, this country is the birthplace of the whole Coffee Belt map. So much coffee talk and yet we didn’t tell you that the best coffee in the world can be traced back to the ancient coffee forests of Ethiopia. Well, now you know! Ethiopia has three main coffee-growing regions called Kaffa, Sidamo, and Harrar, and the primary source of its coffee harvest comes from wild coffee tree picking. We recommend trying Bombe Sidama single-origin coffee for a smooth Ethiopian cuppa!
This country on the Coffee Belt map is specialized in one type of coffee: Robusta. Ivory Coast is the largest Robusta coffee producer of all the coffee-producing countries.
Asia’s coffee-producing countries
Geographically, Vietnam has been always part of the Coffee Belt map, but it was not until a few years ago that the coffee industry was rekindled. Currently is one of the fastest-growing coffee-producing countries, and it would not be a surprise if it becomes one of the largest producers in the near future.
The Coffee Belt contains not only the best coffee in the world but the world’s largest archipelago. Indonesia offers something different than the other coffee-producing countries: aged coffee. Correct, just like wine. The specific conditions of these beautiful islands make the coffee aging process possible only there. Hence, it has become the marker of the identity of the fine quality coffee of Indonesia.
Yemen, a country located in the Arabian Peninsula, is a very important part of the Coffee Belt map. It was the first of the coffee-producing countries to cultivate coffee for drinking, back in 1450. Even if they were pioneers cultivating coffee plants for commerce, we can still find coffee trees on the terraced gardens of small family farms, like hundreds of years ago.
Why is the Coffee Belt so important?
There is one factor that all the Coffee Belt countries have in common: the climate. More specifically, the tropical climate.
Remember when we were speaking about the Equator line? The Coffee Belt map is situated within the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, and that means that the best coffee in the world grows better in these particular places because of the conditions that they provide.
The tropical climate does not only affect the weather temperature but the soil characteristics, the precipitation amount, the quantity of sunlight, and the seasonal variations of the coffee-producing countries.
The conditions of the Coffee Belt make the best coffee in the world possible!
What conditions make the Coffee Belt perfect for coffee?
So what are these specific conditions generated by the Coffee Belt’s climate and geography?
A stable weather temperature
Coffee trees need to grow up in a stable ambient temperature to thrive - not too hot, not too cold. They are unable to survive in places with major temperature variations - they require to always be between 59 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
So what about the hot weather of the tropical climate? It is no secret that some regions of coffee-producing countries on the Coffee Belt map (the ones very close to the Equator line) are too hot for coffee plantations. In those regions, coffee plantations can only thrive if there’s another condition: altitude.
The perfect altitude
Since the coffee-producing countries are some of the hottest places on the planet, some varieties of coffee trees need to be cultivated in high-altitude lands. Why? At higher elevations, the weather temperature is cooler and there are almost no changes in temperature. 3300 to 6600 feet above sea level is perfect to grow most of the best coffee in the world.
Another great benefit of higher altitude is that fewer pests can survive there, so the coffee plants can be safe from attacks and have a longer growing season.
Strong rainfall variations
On the Coffee Belt map, near the Equator line, the majority of the countries have distinctive changes in the amount of rainfall throughout the year.
On one hand, there are periods of continuous heavy rains (or wet season) when the coffee trees get the quantity of water and moisture they need to thrive splendidly.
On the other hand, there is the dry season, which usually lasts two to three months. During this season, our favorite plants are ready to be harvested by the farmers.
If they use the strip picking method, all the coffee cherry fruits are stripped from the tree at the same - regardless if they’re all ripe or not. This method is cheaper, quicker, and often used by large farms.
The other method is hand picking, where only the perfectly ripe coffee cherry fruits are picked. This means that a single coffee tree often needs to be revisited and harvested several times throughout the dry season. This method is more labor-intensive but ensures the highest quality of coffee!
Big plants for sun shading
It might sound contradictory, but coffee trees are not huge fans of large exposure to sunlight. So how can they thrive in the Coffee Belt, where there are harsh rays of sun most of the day?
It’s not a problem in the rainy season, and in the dry one, the best coffee in the world can be effectively protected from sunlight with forest trees and other big tropical plants such as banana trees.
Other advantages of growing coffee plants amongst other trees are more pollinators for more coffee cherry fruits, less weed quantity, and protection against frost.
In addition to specific water or air conditions, the best coffee in the world requires specific conditions for the soil too. The good news is that the Coffee Belt map encloses a lot of volcanoes, as many of the coffee-producing countries are also within the Ring of Fire imaginary strip.
The fertile volcanic soil, as well as the deep sandy loam, are ideal types of soil for the coffee plants to grow because of their richness in nutrients and their draining capacity.
Can coffee grow outside the Coffee Belt?
Yes, but it’s very hard to grow anything matching the best coffee in the world outside the Coffee Belt map. More to the north or the south of the Coffee Belt, the conditions are not fully favorable for the coffee trees to thrive.
Due to climate change, other areas further from the Equator line are becoming hotter. This could make it possible to grow coffee plants outside the Coffee Belt, but is this really what are we looking for?
Coffee Belt and climate change
Climate change is not only affecting places outside the Coffee Belt map. It is affecting the current coffee-producing countries as well.
The Coffee Belt average temperature is getting hotter, and as we already know, coffee trees are not friends with temperature changes. Another problem of climate change within the Coffee Belt map is the reduction (or even lack!) of the rainfall season. It makes it hard to meet the water needs, extends the dry season unnaturally, and increases the agronomical threats.
Let’s take care of the Coffee Belt!
So what we can do from here on out? Let’s take advantage of all the information we already have at our disposal, and let’s work together to preserve nature. The best coffee in the world is only possible if we maintain the Coffee Belt’s conditions for the coffee trees to be able to grow in all their glory.
For a healthier planet, and long life for our precious coffee harvests! Cheers!