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.
Further south is one of the world's most consistent producers of high-quality coffee beans -- Colombia. With ports to both the Atlantic and the Pacific, it's no wonder Colombia is the world's second largest coffee producer.
Most of the coffee from Colombia is grown at high altitudes at the base of the Andes mountains. This climate yields mild, globally-popular varieties that you might recognize as Colombia Supremo and Colombia Extra.
The mountains that run through Colombia bisect the country to create a diverse set of microclimates and thus, a diverse mix of growing regions. The different growing regions produce, of course, a variety of flavor profiles, but common descriptors include vanilla, tropical fruit, and caramel.
Peru might have some tough competition with Colombia right next door, but the country holds it's own when it comes to producing high-quality, flavorful coffees.
We think of Peru as the underdog of South America. While coffee from Peru isn't yet as popular or widespread as other South American crops, the country is home to some “rare gems” in the specialty coffee world.
A large percentage of the coffee exported from Peru is certified Fair Trade organic. Establishing Peru as a Fair Trade marketplace for coffee has not only helped the industry grow more quickly, but it's helped keep quality standards high and consistent.
Here at Tinker, we love the sweet-bodied simplicity and brightness of Peruvian coffee and import new lots as soon as they arrive in the States late in the year.
Coffee is big business in Brazil, for both large-scale farms and small, independent farmers alike. Brazil is the world's largest coffee producer and as a result, the country exports an increasingly wide variety of high-quality beans.
A term you might hear used frequently in regards to Brazil's processing methods is “pulped natural” coffee. In this method, coffee berries have been dried with the pulp of the fruit still attached to the beans. This method can be risky -- a lot can go wrong when the fruit is left attached -- but the clean, traditionally Brazilian cup it produces in the end is always worth the challenge.
In all, Brazil is home to some of the finest cups of coffee in the world. Sweet, medium-bodied, and with low acidity, you can never go wrong with a good cup of Brazilian coffee.