Where Do Coffee Beans Come From? (Part 2)

The Origins of African Coffee Beans

Coffee mainly originates in equatorial regions; in Africa, this is mainly forests. Legend has it that coffee was initially discovered in the 9th century by an Ethiopian goat herder. However, the earliest accounts of coffee being drunk in a similar fashion to how it is today comes from 16th century Yemen, which is believed to have received imported coffee from Ethiopia. But exactly where do coffee beans come from nowadays?

Different countries and regions specialise in different types of coffee depending on their geography and climate. The most well known producers include Ethiopia, Kenya and the Ivory Coast.

Ethiopian Arabica Coffee Beans

Ethiopia is the natural habitat of the Arabica tree, and is where most of the legends about the origins of coffee come from. Arabica trees are small and yield coffee of good quality. Ethiopia is the top exporter of Arabica coffee beans in Africa, and also has the biggest domestic consumption on the continent. It is believed that around 12 million Ethiopians make their living from coffee. The word ‘coffee’ itself is thought to have derived from ‘Kaffa’ – a coffee growing region in the country.

Kenyan Arabica Coffee Beans

Kenya is another country renowned for its coffee, which is extremely popular all over the world. The brand Kenco derives its name from the original name of The Kenya Coffee Company Limited. Kenyan coffee is sharp and has a fruity acidity, rich fragrance and full body. Mild Arabica coffee beans come from the foothills of Mount Kenya, while espresso coffee beans are mainly grown on small farms. The country is well known for its cooperative system of coffee production, processing and auctioning.

Espresso Coffee Beans from The Ivory Coast

The Ivory Coast is one of the largest producers of Robusta coffee beans, which tend to be strongly aromatic and light-bodied. Robusta coffee beans from the Ivory Coast tend to be most suitable for darker roasts, making them ideal for espresso blends.

Other African Coffee Bean Producers

Ethiopia, Kenya and the Ivory Coast aren’t the only countries on the African continent that produce coffee. Like the Ivory Coast, Uganda produces Robusta coffee beans that are ideal for espresso roasts. An initiative was set up in 1998 to ensure that some of the proceeds from Ugandan coffee would go towards conservation activities.

Tanzania is another coffee-growing nation, with coffee being the country’s main export. Tanzania is a producer of both Arabica and Robusta coffee beans.

You can buy coffee beans from various African nations online at CoffeeBuyer. We stock a fantastic choice of African Arabica and espresso beans as well as varieties from a whole range of other continents.

Otherwise, watch this space for the next instalment of ‘Where Do Coffee Beans Come From?’, which will take you from the shaded plantations of the Southern Indian states to the micro-climates of the Indonesian islands.