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Where does coffee come from: An Overview

Dave Carter

August 13, 2020

Although many legends revolve around coffee's origin and history, currently, most of our coffee comes from over 20 countries globally. These coffee-growing regions make up part of the infamous 'coffee belt,' an area around the tropics of the world where coffee plants can be grown sustainably and successfully, producing some of the best beans worldwide.

Some of the best coffee-growing regions in the world include Central and South America, the Middle East, Asia, and the most accepted birthplace of coffee, Ethiopia, Africa. To help you understand more about your favorite caffeine drink, we have provided you with the full history and origins of coffee. Ultimately answering your aching question of Where does coffee come from?

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Where does coffee come from: More than Just Country of Origin​

In today's world, most people consider coffee to be an essential fuel in starting the day right, but have you wondered what its actual history is? The history of the popular drink begins with a simple goat herder in Ethiopia named Kaldi. He noticed his goats were acting strangely and discovered they were dancing, and he saw them eating red berries and concluded that the fruit was responsible for the odd behavior of his animals.

And after discovering the red fruit, Kaldi shared his discoveries with a monk who threw the fruits at a fire and discovered its mesmerizing aroma, creating the world's first-ever roasted coffee. Shortly after this discovery, they grounded the coffee and boiled them in water, producing one of the most beloved drinks today.

Although the story of Kaldi is widely-known, it cannot be proven to be 100% true. However, one thing is for sure, and that is coffee beans come from Ethiopia, Africa. And since then, it has found its way to the north and into Yemen in the 15th century and has since then spread worldwide, effectively becoming one of the most consumed beverages worldwide.

What is the origin of coffee?​

For centuries, coffee has undergone several trials and tribulations in perfecting the art of coffee. With so many improvements over the years, this has blessed the modern age with the convenience of using a fancy coffee and cappuccino machine and the quick process of creating the perfect brews just by learning how to use a coffee maker and the correct coffee beans to water ratio. But with all these improvements and modifications, where did the original coffee bean originate?

Ethiopia: The Birthplace of Coffee and Its Quick Rise to Fame​

Coffee grown globally can trace its heritage from centuries ago from the ancient coffee forests in Ethiopia, where the story of Kaldi took place. He discovered the original plant of coffee. During the birth of coffee, the word moved east, and it reached the Arabian peninsula, starting the journey of these beans across the globe. And coffee trade and cultivation began in the peninsula. By the 15th century, local farmers were now growing coffee plants in the Yemeni district of Arabia, and further spread to Egypt, Persia, Turkey, and Syria.

It was brewed in homes and in numerous public coffeehouses, called 'Qahveh Khaneh.' Quickly spreading the fondness of the drink across the continent. And by the 17th century, coffee found its way to Europe, and quickly became a hit across the nation, replacing the everyday breakfast drink staples at the time: beer and wine. The drink then became a favorite among the people in the New World until 1773, with Thomas Jefferson regarding it as 'the favorite beverage of the civilized world.'

With the increasing demands for coffee, several countries began cultivating it. The Dutch joined the bandwagon and discovered success by growing one coffee grain at a time on the island of Java (Indonesia), and the coffee plant thrived. Soon the Dutch had a productive and growing trade in coffee, even expanding the cultivation of coffee trees and coffee planting to the Sumatra and Celebes islands.

Finally, by the end of the 18th century, coffee had reached the Americas and became one of the world's most lucrative export crops, making it the second most sought commodity globally, right next to crude oil.


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Where do coffee beans come from​

It's no secret that coffee comes from the coffee plant, a type of evergreen shrub or bush. It resembles a grapevine or berry brush, and it can grow up to 9.8 ft or 11.5 ft tall. Coffee trees have dark green and waxy leaves, but sometimes its leaves can have a more yellow or purple hue. Coffee beans are grown on low, around 3 to 6 feet shrubby plants that produce white blossoms that produce the fruit called 'coffee cherries,' which resembles the size and color of traditional cranberries.

These cherries are clustered throughout the coffee plant's limbs, and each coffee cherry is picked from around October to January annually. And since the cherries do not ripen at the same time, farmers typically remove one coffee cherry at a time from the same plant, until all the coffee cherries have been harvested at the peak of ripeness.

And there are numerous types of coffee bean plants, with Arabica beans (Coffea Arabica) and Robusta beans (Coffea Robusta or Coffea Canephora) being the most popular ones. The following are the differences between the most popular beans used across the world today, the Arabica beans and Robusta beans.

The Arabica Coffee Plant​

Compared with the Robusta coffee plant, the Arabica plant is more prolific, having several varieties grown globally. You can find this high-quality bean in the 'coffee belt,' which are areas around the earth's equator where the conditions for growing a coffee plant are at their best. Arabica coffee boasts more robust and vibrant flavors than the Robusta version, as it is derived from 100% red coffee cherries.

The Robusta Coffee Plant​

Robusta coffee plants contain heaps of lower quality coffee cherries. However, it provides a more chocolatey taste, making it sweeter than its Arabica counterpart. These beans are grown in Africa and Indonesia, and it is often mixed with Arabica, creating unique blends for all coffee fanatics.

What do coffee beans grow on?​

A coffee tree is a tropical evergreen bush or shrub with dark green to yellow hue leaves and can grow up to 9 feet tall. These plants grow between the tropical regions of Capricorn and Cancer, boasting some of the best coffee-growing environments in the world. Coffee beans are grown on evergreen shrubs that produce white blossoms that produce the coffee cherries, which is where most coffee comes from. The most popular and essential species grown are the Arabicas and Robusta. These are commonly used on commercial grounds and blends, producing some of the most delicious flavors ever to reach your cup.

Do coffee beans come from poop?​

If you are on the hunt for the best automatic coffee machine or the most expensive coffee makers or learned how to make coffee with a french press, you would more likely want to use the highest quality of beans for the best brew at home. However, you may notice a common trend amongst these expensive coffees: they contain an ingredient that is more than unusual, and you may wonder, do coffee beans come from poop?

Commercial beans do not come from poop, but there are expensive variations that do originate from feces. The globe's most expensive coffee is made from poop. The beans are partially digested and then excreted out by a civet (a nocturnal catlike creature native to tropical Asia and Africa). A single serving of 'kopi luwak,' as known, racks up to $80 in a coffee shop in the United States, making it an expensive delicacy in the world of java.

These beans originated in Southeast Asia and Africa, where the civet resides in. The digestive enzymes these creatures possess change the structure of the beans' protein, reducing the acidity of it and producing a smoother cup of joe.

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Where are coffee beans grown​

Coffee beans grow best in tropical areas because it is best suited to mild temperatures, basking on frequent rainfalls, rich soil, and the shaded sun. Below are the following continents where the best beans are typically grown.


The birthplace of coffee, with Ethiopia and Uganda dominating the coffee production, with over 60 percent of the coffee output coming from these two countries.

South America

This continent is the world's largest exporter of coffee, from beans to grounds, they have it all. If you are looking for great java, this is where you should begin your journey. Brazil exports over 2 million tons of the beloved beverage annually.

Central America

Coffees from Central America tend to exhibit fruity flavors, including apple and cherry, with subtle notes of chocolate and butter. It provides you with a perfectly balanced cup, and countries like Costa Rica and Honduras are famous for creating blends that have captured the hearts of avid coffee lovers.

The Middle East

The coffeehouse culture began on the continent, making the caffeinated drink loved around the globe. Most arabica beans originate from Middle Eastern countries, producing some of the highest quality beans in the world.


Countries in this continent produce some of the best beans globally, with Indonesia producing a third of the world's coffee beans, specializing in Robusta beans, and the country has been growing these whole beans since the early 1600s.

Coffee has come a long way, from its humble beginnings in Ethiopia to hundreds of coffee variations today, bringing joy to everyone in each brew. From its history, origins, and even plant origins, we hope this article helped you find the answer to where coffee comes from? Broadening your knowledge about the popular beverage, and appreciate the rich history of each cup of coffee you sip during busy mornings or lazy afternoons.


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