Coffee is a brewed beverage with a strong flavor prepared from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant. The beans are found in coffee cherries, which grow on trees cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in equatorial Latin America, Southeast Asia, South Asia and Africa. Green (unroasted) coffee is one of the most traded agricultural commodities in the world.[1] Coffee is slightly acidic (5.0-5.1 pH[2]) and can have a stimulating effect on humans due to its caffeine content. It is one of the most-consumed beverages in the world.[3]



Wild coffee’s energizing effect was likely first discovered in the northeast region of Ethiopia. Coffee cultivation first took place in southern Arabia;[4] the earliest credible evidence of coffee drinking appears in the middle of the 15th century in the Sufi shrines of Yemen.[4] From the Muslim world, coffee consumption and cultivation spread to India,[5] to Italy, and on to the rest of Europe, Indonesia and the Americas.[6]

In East Africa and Yemen, coffee was used in native religious ceremonies that competed with the Christian Church. As a result, the Ethiopian Church banned its secular consumption until the reign of Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia.[7] The beverage was also banned in Ottoman Turkey during the 17th century for political reasons[8] and was associated with rebellious political activities in Europe.

Coffee berries, which contain the coffee seeds or “beans”, are produced by several species of small evergreen bush of the genus Coffea. The two most commonly grown are the highly regarded Coffea arabica, and the “robusta” form of the hardier Coffea canephora. The latter is resistant to the devastating coffee leaf rust (Hemileia vastatrix). Once ripe, coffee berries are picked, processed, and dried. The seeds are then roasted to varying degrees, depending on the desired flavor. They are then ground and brewed to create coffee. Coffee can be prepared and presented in a variety of ways.

An important export commodity, coffee was the top agricultural export for twelve countries in 2004,[9] and it was the world’s seventh-largest legal agricultural export by value in 2005.[10] Some controversy is associated with coffee cultivation and its impact on the environment. Consequently, organic coffee is an expanding market.

Many studies have examined the health effects of coffee, and whether the overall effects of coffee consumption are positive or negative has been widely disputed.[11] The method of brewing coffee has been found to be important to its health effects. For instance, preparing coffee in a French press leaves more oils in the drink compared with coffee prepared with paper coffee filter. This might raise the drinker’s level of “bad cholesterol.” [12]

World production

2010 Top twenty green coffee producers
Rank Country Tonnes[33] Bags x1000[34]
1  Brazil 2,874,310 48,095
2  Vietnam 1,105,700 19,467
3  Indonesia[note 1] 801,000 9,129
4  Colombia 514,128 8,523
5  India 289,600 5,033
6  Ethiopia[note 1] 270,000 7,500
7  Peru 264,605 3,986
8  Guatemala[note 2] 257,000 3,950
9  Mexico[note 1] 253,800 4,850
10  Honduras 229,368 4,326
11  Uganda[note 1] 162,000 3,290
12  Côte d’Ivoire[note 1] 100,000 982
13  Costa Rica 97,305 1,588
14  El Salvador 97,273 1,859
15  Nicaragua 78,712 1,804
16  Venezuela[note 2] 72,200 1,205
17  Papua New Guinea[note 2] 67,200 870
18  Cambodia 66,584 608
19  Kenya 42,000 658
20  Tanzania[note 1] 40,020 800
Total   World[note 3] 8,359,376 134,241

In 2010 Brazil was the world leader in production of green coffee, followed by Vietnam, Indonesia and Colombia.[35] Arabica coffee beans are cultivated in Latin America, eastern Africa, Arabia, or Asia. Robusta coffee beans are grown in western and central Africa, throughout southeast Asia, and to some extent in Brazil.[16]

Beans from different countries or regions can usually be distinguished by differences in flavor, aroma, body, and acidity.[36] These taste characteristics are dependent not only on the coffee’s growing region, but also on genetic subspecies (varietals) and processing.[37] Varietals are generally known by the region in which they are grown, such as Colombian, Java and Kona.