International Coffee Beans

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Growing coffee trees requires particular conditions. Because of that, as might be imagined, the plant is an international one. Having originated, as best as the scientists can determine, in Ethiopia and the Arabian peninsula, or at least first cultivated there, coffee is now grown in Central and South America, several Pacific islands, and Indonesia as well as in certain African and Middle Eastern countries. These areas play, as one might also imagine, into regional coffee characteristics.

Approximately 400 billion cups of coffee are drunk worldwide each year, according to figures taken near the turn of the millennium. Two varieties provide the vast majority of those 400 billion. The first is Robusta (properly called Coffea canephora robusta), which grows at lower elevations and contains more caffeine. The second, and most prevalent and popular, is Arabica (Coffea arabica), which grows at between 1,500 feet and 6,000 feet and contains slightly less caffeine.

Coffee Regions Across the World

The Central and South American and Caribbean coffees by and large are lighter in body than the others, slightly sweeter, and slightly more acidic. Adjectives often used to describe them include nutty and smooth. South American varieties tend to be sharper than Central American. All are very well balanced.

The Middle Eastern and African coffees generally have a more medium body and something of a wild and syrupy feel. African coffees are sharp, assertive, and strong. It is along coastal Africa that most of the world's Robustas are grown. Indonesian and other Pacific and Indian Ocean coffees are almost exclusively Arabicas. They feature heavy body, low acidity, and earthy tones. Adjectives that apply well to them include spicy and winey.


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