Coffee made it's way to the Americas in 1723, after a French Naval officer brought a seedling across the Atlantic from France to Martinique. The impact from this voyage had a viral effect. In just 50 years, the small island had grown over 18 million coffee trees, becoming the source of all coffee in Latin America.
While coffee is not a native plant to Latin America, the region is now the largest producer of the crop in the entire world. Although global climate change has and continues to be a threat to the industry, the tropical weather and mountainous geography in both Latin and South America are ideal for growing coffee.
Let's take a look at a few of coffee's best countries in the Americas. Chances are, you've tasted a cup or two from one of these coffee-producing powerhouses.
Costa Rica is a purist when it comes to coffee processing. Their reputation for high-quality wet-processed, or washed, coffee is second to none in the world. Wet-processing coffee refers to a way of moving coffee through production by removing the fruit coverings of the coffee bean before they're dried. The wet process, which can take farmers up to 80 hours per batch, produces higher quality beans than any other method.
Most of the coffee coming from Costa Rica is produced in smaller farms, grown in mostly volcanic soil. The higher altitudes, rich soil, and wet method of bean processing come together to create roasts that most would describe as bright, balanced, and clean.
The coffee industry in El Salvador has witnessed some ups and downs in the last hundred years or so. Around 1880, coffee became an important fixture in El Salvador's economy and the export continued to thrive throughout the 20th century.
Despite the boom, a civil war in 1980 dramatically impacted El Salvador's coffee lifeline, causing production to decrease and exportation to slow.
The country has managed to slowly bounce back from the catastrophe civil war wreaked on their most important crop. Investing in and implementing new technologies for farming coffee helped renew the industry post-war. Despite the latest in technological advancement, farmers there are proud to still focus most of their efforts on producing the most traditional El Salvadorian variety, Bourbon, which is full-bodied and sweet.
Guatemala might not be the first Latin American country that comes to mind when you think of superior coffee, but make no mistake, Guatemala is small-yet-mighty when it comes to producing some of the world's most complex varieties.
The varieties that come from Guatemala are as diverse as the country itself. The eight different growing regions in Guatemala are affected by different climate and elevation factors, which are reflected in each region's distinct blend.
Guatemala actually has a governing body to oversee this phenomenon and ensure their diversity of regional production is never lost. The Asociación Nacional del Café (Anacafe), ensures coffees from particular regions match up with their respective flavor profile, otherwise, that variety cannot be marked with the official regional designation.