Every coffee-producing country has its own personality. Some countries produce coffee beans that are smooth and comforting. Some cultivate spicy beans. And others prize themselves on growing coffee beans with fruity flavors.
Maybe you want to travel far and wide to discover delicious traditions. Or maybe you just want to taste the world in your own kitchen.
Either way, we can guide you to the best coffee beans for your tastes. Here’s our list of countries with the best coffee.
Key Takeaways: Best Countries for Coffee
- If you like light-roasted coffee, try beans from the south of Colombia or Ethiopia.
- If you prefer espresso-based drinks, try beans from Hawaii that do well in dark roasts.
- Ethiopia has one of the best coffee cultures anywhere in the world.
The 7 Best Coffee Countries in the World
Many African countries produce coffee, but Ethiopians live coffee. That’s why when we talk about the best coffee countries, we have to start with Ethiopia. After all, the Ethiopian plateau is the birthplace of coffee.
Ethiopia’s history as a coffee country stretches back to its ancient forests. According to legend, a goat herder discovered coffee after noticing that certain berries energized his herd.
To this day, people who love coffee turn to Ethiopia for high-quality coffee beans. Coffee production isn’t high compared to other countries. So what gives Ethiopian coffee beans such an enduring appeal?
They’re fruity and bright, often with a distinctive taste of blueberries. In particular, Arabica Yirgacheffe is a coffee variety coveted worldwide.
Flavors aren’t the only reason you might be excited to drink coffee from Ethiopia. Let’s talk about the country’s local coffee culture.
Coffee has its roots in Ethiopia. So it shouldn’t surprise us to see a thriving, complex culture that people weave into daily life.
The Ethiopian coffee ceremony brings together friends and families. During this long and complex process, coffee is roasted, ground, and brewed on the spot.
This important social occasion extends hospitality to visitors over many hours. And it may be repeated several times a day. Now that is a culture focused on coffee!
Now let’s travel across the globe to South America. Along with Central America, South America hosts many countries with the best coffee. And where better to start than Colombia?
Colombia is a land of high mountains filled with coffee plants and rugged coffee farmers.
At least, that’s what the Juan Valdez coffee ads would lead you to believe. What’s the reality in this South American country?
The reality actually can be better than the fantasy! Many towns in Colombia do resemble all those television ads. The country hosts incredible landscapes filled with abundant coffee growth. Mist-covered mountains provide some of the best coffee in the world.
From north to south, coffee farmers in Colombia work hard, hand-picking ripe beans. Their efforts provide a good part of the Arabica coffee that’s consumed everywhere in the world.
Coffee enthusiasts cherish Colombian beans for their smooth, mild taste and balanced acidity.
But try coffee produced in the south of Colombia to get the most unique flavors. You can find some of the best coffee from Colombia in the award-winning areas of Huila and Nariño. These coffees are often surprising, with a bright, fruity flavor and staggering complexity.
Over 500,000 coffee growers operate in Colombia. And this coffee farm life involves the whole community. Seriously. Entire towns center around the production and sale of beans.
Want to glimpse a lifestyle that has endured over hundreds of years? Jump into a brightly colored Jeep Willys to visit farms high in the mountains.
But don’t overlook the cities! Colombia’s major cities enjoy growing, thriving coffee scenes.
Colombian cities offer many options to sip both traditional and third-wave coffee methods. You can also visit a coffee lab and learn about the science behind the bean.
Many baristas in Colombia are proud of the flavor of citrus fruits. Finding a fruity flavor in your cup of coffee not your thing? The northern regions of this country will give you comforting chocolate notes.
One of the best coffee countries in the world is an archipelago in South Asia: Indonesia. Indonesian coffee has a long history with tastes that beg to be savored.
Production in Indonesia goes back to the late 1600s – early 1700s. Dutch colonizers set up coffee plantations around the country, planting seeds from Yemen.
You might not recognize the term Indonesian coffee. But you have no doubt heard of Java or Sumatra, two famous areas in Indonesia.
The unique flavors of these coffees include smoky notes and a bold character. If you like coffee with a full body and low acidity, this is the place for you.
The giling basah processing method preserves the earthy flavor characteristic of Indonesian coffees. Combine that with incredible biodiversity and rich volcanic soil plus lots of mountains? You have a paradise for growing Arabica coffee.
Indonesian coffee gained popularity in recent times because of the infamous (and wrongly named) cat poop coffee, Kopi Luwak. This civet coffee intrigues and appalls people around the world.
But there’s much more to Indonesian coffees than beans passed through animal intestines.
When you visit Indonesia you’ll see that coffee consumption in the country is growing. You can find a basic cup of coffee on the street. And high-end cafes provide unique coffees.
Most people in Indonesia prefer their coffees black, with no milk. They might include some sugar or spices in their drink. Find your favorite flavor by exploring Sumatran coffee.
4. Costa Rica
These days you’ll find more and more great coffee from Costa Rica in specialty shops. Costa Rican coffee offers irresistible sweet flavors.
This Arabica coffee thrives in the volcanic soil typical of Central America. Coffee production in Costa Rica occurs on small farms throughout the mountainous country.
Historically, coffee consumption in Costa Rica has been low. But coffee culture is blooming as local consumption increases.
In San Jose, a growing specialty coffee shop scene attracts the younger generation. And more and more micro-roasters are popping up across Costa Rica.
Let’s head a bit north to Guatemala, another coffee country in Central America.
Jesuits brought coffee seeds to the country in the 1700s. Coffee plants have thrived in Guatemala’s nutrient-rich volcanic soil ever since.
Organic coffee farming processes make Guatemalan coffees popular. The flavor of spices and chocolate makes them a deliciously unique sipping experience.
Most coffee grown in Guatemala gets exported. But increasing local demand is keeping some of the quality coffee beans in the country. Independent cafes have blossomed all over Guatemala, especially in the capital city
When it comes to coffee, Jamaica has also been on the map for a long time. The island has cultivated coffee since the 18th century. And to great success. In the past, Jamaica produced much of the world’s coffee.
Other coffee countries have since passed Jamaica in coffee production. But Jamaica continues to produce tastes that coffee lovers covet around the globe.
What makes the island an ideal place for coffee production? Let’s talk about one region in particular, the Jamaican Blue Mountains.
The region known as the Jamaican Blue Mountains has cool weather and volcanic soil. That’s a powerful duo when producing coffee that impresses people.
Coffee grown in mountainous regions is often handpicked, which is the case in this region. The process of picking by hand guarantees a strict selection of just the right beans. So most handpicked beans are of better quality.
The Blue Mountains are a small region. Unfortunately, one mountain range can only produce so much coffee. The scarcity of beans from this area drives prices up and creates a luxury market around the beans.
Of course, not all the coffees in Jamaica grow at high elevations. They have coffee grown at lower elevations that are less expensive and easier on the budget.
But if you want to experience the best Jamaica has to offer, save up your pennies for some Blue Mountain Coffee.
While Jamaicans in general love their tea, there is a growing coffee scene in Kingston. Local cafes offer the latest in third-wave brewing methods and world coffees.
Okay, okay. Hawaii is not a country. But beans from the Aloha State are too good to overlook.
When we talk about coffee in Hawaii, we’re often talking about Kona coffees. These coffees grow in South Kona on the island of Hawaii (also known as the Big Island). South Kona has both a climate and geography ideal for growing fantastic coffees.
What makes this coffee bean so good? It has a pleasant medium body, a lingering finish, and none of the bitterness that you’ll find in some other origins. All of that makes for a sweet, flavorful cup.
Kona coffee grows at lower altitudes. So you’ll find the coffee beans have a lower acidity that makes the brew taste smooth and mellow.
Kona coffee also does well in dark roasts since the bitterness is low despite the long roasting time. That makes this coffee a hit for preparing espresso drinks.
Strict quality controls protect the Kona name and also help guarantee quality. If you’re buying Kona coffee, make sure it’s truly from Kona, though.
The region produces only about 1% of the world’s coffee. With such a small but respected growing region, there are a lot of imitations on the market.
Pro tip: Avoid blends. Instead, look for labels that specify 100% Kona coffee. Beware of roasters that are vague about how much Kona coffee is in a blend.
Of course, not all coffee from Hawaii is from Kona. You’ll find excellent coffees from Ka’u, Puna, Maui, Kauai, and other regions.
If you do sip outside of Kona, expect a range of flavor profiles from these diverse regions. You can enjoy anything from robust and rich to light and floral tastes.
The coffee industry in Hawaii is booming. You can check out the best coffee at coffee festivals and visit a local coffee farm. Specialty coffee shops have also popped up around Hawaii. And there’s nothing like drinking coffee while listening to the waves crash on the beach.
Other Notable Countries
Of course, this short list doesn’t mention all the amazing beans grown worldwide.
Some coffee-producing countries are surprising, such as Vietnam. Maybe you’ve heard of Vietnamese coffee. But did you know that Vietnam comes in second for producing the largest amount of coffee in the world?
Much of the output focuses on quantity rather than quality. So there’s not a great range of flavor profiles. (Vietnamese coffee crops are almost entirely robusta beans.)
But visiting coffee farms in Vietnam is still a fascinating cultural experience. And while you’re there, don’t forget to sip on the strong and sweet Vietnamese coffee, made with condensed milk.
Another country that sometimes gets overlooked is Mexico. Mexico’s coffee industry has had its ups and downs in the past. But now, the country produces much of the organic coffee for the United States.
Mexican cities tend to focus on large coffee chains like Starbucks. But you can definitely enjoy some tasty Mexican coffee at home.
If you love to follow the specialty coffee world, maybe you’ve heard of Panama’s Geisha coffee. These unusual quality beans have a floral taste and delicate mouthfeel.
What’s behind this fantastic success? It’s an Ethiopian coffee bean variety grown in Latin America. So you get beans from the original coffee country growing in nutrient-rich soil.
This coffee collaboration has expanded what people consider possible with coffee. Try Panama’s Geisha coffee from the Boquete region.
Wrapping Up: Country With the Best Coffee
Like an excellent cup of joe, world coffee culture is robust and full of exciting flavors. So compiling a list of the countries with the best coffee can be overwhelming. As you can see, the choices for the best coffee countries are many.
When you want to drink coffee that’s great for any occasion, try coffee from Colombia. You’ll find fruity flavors as well as a comforting chocolate taste. You’ll also find the best coffee for any budget.
Want a coffee that eliminates bitterness and is ideal for mellow espressos? Look for coffee beans from Hawaii or Jamaica.
But sometimes, it’s best to keep it simple and go back to where it all started. Coffee drinkers looking for the best coffee can turn to Ethiopia again and again.