A List of Top Coffee-Producing Countries in South America
To narrow down our knowledge of the top single origins for coffee in South America, we have to start big: we have to look at the individual top coffee-producing countries and give them a definition. Later, when you learn about single origin regions and towns, you’ll have the right context for where these coffees are grown and which characteristics they might expect to contain. Here are the top coffee-producing countries in South America that cracked the top 20 worldwide in 2010:
- Brazil. Producing about one coffee bean for every coffee bean that is produced across the world is not a small deal. Coffee is a big business, and Brazil is a big country that has matched its big potential by cultivating far and away the most coffee in recent years. It’s a big enough country to have a variety of climates and geological systems, but the highlands have plenty of coffee-producing power. Coffee is, in fact, the national beverage of Brazil. Brazil’s production is wide and varied, focusing on both Arabica and Robusta varieties. Much of the Brazilian terrain is actually too low in altitude for it to be considered “high-grade” as an Arabica producer, but the amount of land involved is still heavy and, therefore, significant.
- Colombia. The phrase “Colombian” is often followed by “coffee” in the United States, and for good reason: Colombia is situated in almost the perfect place to cultivate fragrant, richly-flavored beans. It has a stable climate thanks to its location near the oceans, it has enough high altitudes inland to support all types of cultivation, and even the soil seems to correspond well to coffee growing. Like much of Central America, Colombia focuses primarily on developing Arabica coffee.
- Peru. With the amount of coffee produced by Brazil and Colombia each year, it’s not hard to understand why a great coffee from Peru can often be overlooked. However, Peru’s coffee production is nothing to shake a stick at, and its high elevations can actually be quite ideal for the Arabica coffees that Peru focuses on so heavily.
- Venezuela. Venezuela’s coffee production has been overshadowed by its oil production in recent decades, which is why it’s easy to forget Venezuela’s role in coffee production in South America. But like Colombia, Venezuelan soil has a number of ideal characteristics (like proper acidity) for growing coffee.
Much of the northern half of South America features land cultivated specifically for coffee production, which is why so many South American countries that don’t appear on this list also produce a lot of coffee. However, with the geographical prevalence (i.e., size) of the Amazon River and the rainforest, it’s important to also realize that not all of South American land is ideal for every type of coffee. Like in Africa, there are a multitude of climate and geological variations that mean different areas are better for growing better crops. Even so, South America’s equatorial status and ideal climate (it’s warm and humid with plenty of elevation, which is what Arabica coffees love most) make it one of the top-performing coffee producers in the world.