If there’s ever any commodity that’s always on the hotlist, then it is coffee. In fact, only oil is traded more than the beverage in the world. More than thirty million bags of coffee are exported annually. In addition to this, around 30-40% of the world’s population consumes coffee every day, and more than 500 billion cups are consumed a year1.
About a decade ago, the exporting coffee industry was worth $20 billion. Now, the global selection of the coffee industry is worth $465.9 billion2. Admittedly, the COVID-19 pandemic affected the supply and demand of coffee all over the world. The coffee industry is, however, getting back in business. With about 25 million people making their living off the industry across more than 50 countries, the coffee industry is now brewing3. Coffee exporters all over the world can now get back to selling to the billions of global consumers.
Notably, the top importers of coffee are the U.S., Germany, France, Italy, and Belgium. Regardless, importers in countries all over the world are still looking to getting a better deal for coffee exports. Wholesalers or retailers looking to get into e-commerce sales can look into the top coffee-producing countries in the world.
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Even though almost 90 percent of coffee production takes place in the South Americas4, there are some other exporting countries spread across the globe. Here are the selected top coffee exporting countries (in no particular order, really).
1-Brazil (exports 2,680,515 metric tons of coffee)
For more than 150 years, Brazil has been the largest producer of coffee in the world. In the early 20th century, Brazil accounted for almost 80% of all the coffee exported in the world. This was before other countries caught up with the bug. Currently, the country's total exports equal one-third of the rest of the world’s production.
Brazil's relevance to the coffee industry shouldn't come as much of a surprise. The country's proper levels of sunlight and rainfall, low elevation, and even temperatures all year round are perfect for growing Arabica and Robusta beans. With over 20,000 coffee plantations spread on 10,000 square miles5, Brazil is far ahead of other countries.
Brazil’s coffee is more suited for great flavored coffees. The country’s coffee is well-known for its creamy body, low acidity, and subtle bittersweet rich chocolate and caramel notes.Vietnam (1,542,398 metric tons)
Vietnam is the second top coffee-producing country in the world. Coffee is the country’s second export commodity, after rice. The major coffee export in Vietnam is the Robusta variant, which accounts for about 40% of the world’s total supply, making Vietnam responsible for a huge chunk of the world’s coffee supply6. The coffee beans are typically grown in the temperate central highlands of the country using basalt soil.
Exporters go for Vietnam’s Robusta coffee beans because of their low acidity, bitterness, and mocha notes.
2-Colombia (754,376 metric tons)
Columbia is the world’s leading exporter of Arabic coffee. The country produces about 11.5 million bags of coffee annually7. Since 1830 when the country started commercializing its coffee, its coffee beans have been considered the best in the world. As a matter of fact, UNESCO declared the “Coffee Cultural Landscape” of Columbia a World Heritage site in 20118.
Most of the coffee in the country is grown in the designated Columbian coffee growing axis. The coffee beans, grown at 1500-2000 meters, have rich nutty aromas and a subtle fruity flavor. Also, Columbia coffees are well-known for their mildness.
3-Indonesia (668,677 metric tons)
Indonesia has made the coffee business an integral part of its economy. Coffee cultivation in the country dates back to the late 1600s during the Dutch colonial period9. Even though the country is made up of thousands of islands, the island of Java was the first place where coffee was cultivated in Indonesia.
The country currently grows and exports over 20 coffee varieties. Mostly named after the regions where the coffee is planted, some of the popular coffee varieties in Indonesia are Bali, Flores, Sumatra, Java, Papua, and Sulawesi.
Indonesia’s coffee is recognized for its strong woody body, earthly flavors, and low acidic taste.
4-Honduras (475,042 metric tons)
The climate in Honduras is similar to that of Brazil. Nonetheless, the nation didn’t become a global exporter of coffee until recently. Before becoming a big player in the coffee business, most of the nation’s coffee products were consumed locally.
Mostly grown on small mountain farms known as ‘Fincas’ at high altitudes of between 3600-5249 feet, the nation’s coffee has now become a sensation. Honduras coffee gives off pleasant aromas of hazelnut, vanilla, or red fruit, depending on the particular flavor.
5-Ethiopia (471,247 metric tons)
Ethiopia is no doubt the biggest exporter of coffee in Africa. There, coffee is indeed not just a beverage; it is part of the culture of the people. Ethiopia has been home to the Coffee Arabica as early as the 1600s in the trade of java.
The coffee industry in the country is nationalized and accounts for about 10% of the government’s revenue10 and 1.1% of its GDP11. Ethiopia has a variety of thousands of coffee beans. With this comes various flavors. Nonetheless, the three main species cultivated are Shortberry, Mocha, and Longberry.
It doesn’t matter the species, the quality of the coffee in Ethiopia is top-notch. Ethiopian coffee stands out for its floral aroma and intense chocolate, spice, and wine flavors.
6-Peru (346,466 metric tons)
Peru is another big player in the coffee industry. Since the 1700s, coffee has been grown in the country across regions in the north, central belt, and south of the country. Like Honduras, the majority of the coffee production in Peru was previously for local consumption.
Peru coffee comes in two major varieties, divided along with the plantation. The ones are grown in the highlands (especially Andes) have a rich floral flavor. Those in the lowlands are usually medium-bodied with nutty floral and fruity notes.
7-Uganda (209,325 metric tons)
Another top coffee-exporting country is the African state of Uganda. Mainly known for its Robusta coffee, the country also has a variety of Arabica. Ugandan coffee beans are planted by indigenous persons deep the rain forests northern regions of Lira and Gulu; the eastern regions of Mbale and Bugisu; the central and southwestern regions of Jinja, Mukono, Kampala, and Masaka, as well as the western regions of Kasese, west Nile, region and Mbarara.
Coffee beans from Uganda have a wine-like acidity with rich notes of chocolate.
8-Mexico (270,000 metric tons)
The coffee business is booming in Mexico even though it is a latecomer to the industry. While coffee plantations didn’t get introduced until the end of the 18th century in Veracruz, Mexico is now one of the biggest coffee producers in the world. The crop is grown across sixteen (16) states in Mexico.12
Mexico majorly exports wet-processed Arabica coffee. Much of the country’s coffee is used for blending and dark-roasted coffees. Varieties include bourbon, caturra, maragogype, and Mundo Novo.
9-Guatemala (204,000 metric tons)
Located east of Mexico and west of Honduras, Guatemala is also one of the major coffee-producing countries in the world. The country was the biggest exporter of coffee throughout Central America in the 20th century (before being overtaken by Honduras).13 From the 19th century, coffee export has been an integral part of the country’s economy.
The coffee production regions in the country are the areas of the country with a mild subtropical climate. These regions include Antigua, Atitlan, Fraijanes Plateau, Highland Huehuetenango, Nuevo Oriente, Volcan San Marcos, and Rainforest Coban.
Guatemalan coffees can be full or medium-bodied. The flavors will be determined by the location of the plantation. The ones grown in the central highlands have a floral acidity and are often spicy or chocolatey in taste. The ones from the mountain areas are less acidic because they have become exposed to the Caribbean or the Pacific Ocean.
Coffee is the most traded agricultural commodity in the world. Interestingly also, more than 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed in the world daily14. The coffee industry has a significant impact on the global economy to the tune of $42.5 billion a year.15
Despite the current enormous growth of the coffee industry, the world still isn't getting enough of it. There are still a lot of spaces that exporters can fill up. Here are some pros of exporting coffee to other countries.
One thing is sure: you can increase your sales when you export coffee products. The global market is large, and there are still many opportunities yet to be explored. You’ll get to market to global buyers beyond national markets.
Exporting coffee offers more stability in transactional sales. For instance, international demand for coffee and coffee products will not often be affected by the volatility in the sales of coffees locally.
With significant sales comes enormous profits. It’s almost certain that international buyers will order more products than local buyers, where the market may already have become saturated. Even more importantly, international buyers may be willing to pay more to match the value of your coffee products.
Are you thinking of exporting or importing coffees? Here are a couple of frequently asked questions for you.
Yes, you can. You don’t even need to have a physical location to do so. When you sell your coffee products on e-commerce platforms like Alibaba.com, you’ll get to reach even more buyers all over the world.
Also, you don’t have to be a big player or big brand to sell coffee products online. Unlike other commodities where large brands are associated with high quality, this is not so in the coffee industry. Well, as said, the best coffees are those by lesser-known producers.
There are also lots of niche markets that an emerging seller can delve into.
The coffee business is not just about selling roasted coffee beans. There’s more to it. You can also look into diversifying and selling other coffee products like:
Relying only on domestic sales of coffee may limit your sales, profits, and market options. With millions of consumers of coffee worldwide, the market is open and viable. Choosing to sell your coffee products on an e-commerce platform provides various options for you as a wholesaler or retailer.
Alibaba.com is an international platform that offers you access to millions of international buyers. Alibaba.com provides you with the largest B2B platform where you can sell to millions of consumers and retailers all over the world. Sell your products here today.