Ever wonder why America is not a large coffee producing country? Neither are the Scandinavian countries, even though Americans and Scandinavians are the largest consumers of coffee in the world. The answer is quite simple, it is not feasible to grow coffee in areas with thermal seasons. Meaning that fall, spring, summer and winter, favor many harvests (apples, perhaps the most), but they actually hurt coffee plantations. The best region to grow coffee is the coffee belt.
The coffee belt, also known as the coffee-producing region or the coffee-growing region, refers to a specific area of the world where coffee is grown. This region is located between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, which are the latitudes 23.5 degrees north and 23.5 degrees south of the equator.
The coffee belt encompasses more than 50 countries in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. These countries have the necessary climate, altitude, rainfall, and soil conditions that are required to grow coffee plants successfully.
The coffee belt is an important part of the global coffee industry as it produces over 70% of the world's coffee. The specific characteristics of the coffee beans grown in this region vary depending on factors such as the country, altitude, and processing methods used, resulting in a diverse range of coffee flavors and profiles.
The coffee belt is important for several reasons:
- Coffee Production: The coffee belt produces over 70% of the world's coffee, making it a crucial region for the global coffee industry. This industry is a significant source of income for many countries, providing employment for millions of people.
- Biodiversity: The coffee belt is also a region of high biodiversity. Coffee plants require specific conditions to grow, including shade and fertile soil. As a result, many coffee farms are located in forested areas, where they contribute to the preservation of natural habitats and the protection of endangered species.
- Cultural Significance: Coffee is an essential part of many cultures in the coffee belt, with coffee ceremonies and traditions playing a significant role in the social fabric of many communities. This cultural significance helps to maintain and promote the cultural identity and heritage of these regions.
- Trade and Economy: The coffee trade is a vital source of income for many countries in the coffee belt, contributing to their economies and helping to support the development of local communities (read: family owned coffee farms).
Overall, the coffee belt is crucial for the global coffee industry, biodiversity conservation, cultural preservation, and economic development.
Interestingly, across the countries that encompass the Coffee Belt, there are various coffee ceremonies and traditions. Here are a few examples:
- Ethiopia: The Ethiopian coffee ceremony is an integral part of Ethiopian culture and involves a lengthy process of roasting, grinding, and brewing coffee beans. The coffee is brewed in a clay pot called a jebena and is served with snacks like popcorn, peanuts, or bread.
- Turkey: In Turkey, coffee is brewed in a special pot called a cezve and is served in small cups called demitasse cups. The Turkish coffee is traditionally served with a sweet treat, such as Turkish delight or baklava.
- Italy: In Italy, espresso is the most popular type of coffee, and it is usually served in small cups. Drinking coffee in Italy is often a social activity, with people gathering in coffee shops and cafes to chat and enjoy their coffee.
- Mexico: In some parts of Mexico, coffee is flavored with cinnamon and is served in a clay mug called a jicara. The coffee is typically enjoyed with a sweet pastry or bread. More on that here!
- Middle East: In many Middle Eastern countries, coffee is brewed in a pot called a dallah and is served in small cups. The coffee is usually heavily spiced with cardamom and other spices and is often served with dates or other sweets.
These are just a few examples of the many different coffee ceremonies and traditions that exist in the coffee belt. Each culture has its unique way of preparing and serving coffee, reflecting the diversity and richness of the region.
Each culture also has its own way of processing the coffee. African countries tend to manually remove the pulp while South and Central American countries tend to use rustic machines. It is interesting to witness how coffee has impacted so many cultures and economies around the world, and I cannot help and think that coffee creates micro-cultural revolutions everywhere it gets. Where will coffee cause such a big change again? What is next?