The Coffee Growing Process

Coffee is the second most exported product in the world. Whether the final product is espresso, French press, or drip brew, all coffee is grown in a similar manner. The growing process requires optimal growing conditions that can only be found in specific parts of the world.

Although there are over 70 countries that grow coffee, they are all found between the Tropic of Cancer and Capricorn. This optimal coffee growing region surrounds the equator and includes Africa, India, Hawaii, South America, Central America, Indonesia, and the Middle East. The best coffee is grown within 25 degrees latitude north or south of the equator because it provides the most ideal conditions. Temperatures that range from 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit along with 6 inches of rain per month, well drained soil, high humidity and shade, are the required conditions to grow coffee.

Some of the highest quality coffee in the world is grown at altitudes above 3500 feet. It is the cloud cover and mist at these high altitudes that allow the plants to grow slowly and take in more oxygen. The moderate winds that blow in high altitudes also enhance the development and creates some of the finest coffees in the world.

In the lower altitude coffee regions it is usually Robusta coffee trees that are grown. These plants are strong and more resistant to disease, but they do produce a coffee that is considered to be of a lower quality that the high altitude premium Arabica variety.

It takes about five years for coffee trees to reach maturity. It is usually at this time that the first coffee crop is produced. The coffee tree usually only yields two pounds of coffee during this first crop. It takes about 1000 coffee beans to equal one pound and it has to be hand picked and sorted. It is this labor intensive process in harvesting that leads to coffee’s relatively high price.

Coffee trees may blossom for up to eight weeks in areas farther from the equator. But, in areas close to the equator the trees will be in bloom for a much longer time. This provides a longer harvest period. From the first blossom until the harvest is complete it can be up to nine months depending on climate factors. This cycle continues every year during the lifespan of the tree, which is usually 20-25 years.

The process of growing coffee is a labor intensive one. It also depends on precise growing conditions. It is an amazing process from beginning to end in the growing cycle of the coffee bean.