Brazil has been the world’s largest producer of coffee for more than 150 years. Currently, Brazil grows around one-third of the world’s coffee, although in the past its market share was as high as eighty per cent. Coffee was introduced to Brazil from French Guiana in 1727, while Brazil was still under Portuguese rule.
Coffee was probably first introduced to Colombia in 1723 by the Jesuits, though there are inevitably different accounts. It spread slowly as a commercial crop to various regions of the country, but its production did not become significant until the end of the 19th century. By 1912, coffee made up approximately fifty per cent of Colombia’s total exports.
Coffee was first produced commercially in El Salvador in the 1850s. It soon became a favoured crop, with tax breaks for producers. Coffee production became an important part of the economy and the country’s main export, and by 1880 El Salvador was the fourth-largest producer of coffee in the world, producing more than twice as much as it does today.
The first attempt to grow coffee on the Indonesian archipelago was a failure. In 1696 the Governor of Jakarta (then Batavia) was sent a present of a few coffee seedlings by the Dutch Governor of Malabar in India. These plants were lost in a flood in Jakarta, so a second shipment was sent in 1699. These plants flourished.
Despite the fact that neighbouring Ethiopia is considered the home of coffee, Kenya did not start production until relatively late. The earliest documented import of coffee dates to 1893 when French missionaries brought coffee trees from Réunion. Most agree that the variety of coffee they brought was Bourbon. It yielded its first crop in 1896.
Of all the coffee-producing countries, Ethiopia is perhaps the most compelling. The explosive floral and fruity coffees from Ethiopia have opened many a coffee professionals’ eyes to the diversity of flavour that coffee can have.