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Coffee is a culture, with die-hard fans, experts and professionals that can analyze a brew like a sommelier breaks down a glass of wine. In support of this culture, we’re profiling four of the most important coffee regions, so that next time you have a layover in the coffee aisle trying to decipher between Brazilian and Indonesian beans, you’ll have no reservations. 




A handful of countries make up the coffee-growing regions of Africa. The sprawling continent provides plenty of excellent coffee-growing areas, each producing a unique, complex cup of coffee that is generally described as sweet, fruity and floral. The earliest known coffee drinking happened in Ethiopia and Yemen, both countries that still produce highly regarded beans using traditional methods. 

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At the top of that belt is Central America. Most coffees in this region are harvested from Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. Described as having a clean and bright taste with good acidity, coffees from this region are often considered a sort of everyman’s coffee: exceptionally well-balanced and mild to medium in body. 

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In the Pacific Rim, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Vietnam and the Philippines are the most popular coffee growers, and for good reason. Robusta, the bitter beans that make up only 30% of the world’s coffee production, are mainly produced here. If you hear “big and bold” describing a cup, it’s more than likely coming from this area of the world. One of our favorite sub-regions is Sumatra, which produces a bean that’s often described as “earthy”, “herbal”, and “full-bodied”.

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Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador and Bolivia make up the bulk of coffee growing countries in South America. Most us are familiar with the term “Colombian coffee”, and that’s because it’s well-marketed and a lot of chain restaurants serve it. Still, it’s Brazil that’s the world’s largest coffee producer — they provide 25% of the beans we consume in the States — and Brazilian coffee can vary in profile from spicy and rich to mild and fruity. 

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