Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages around the world. Due to the low price tag attached to instant coffee grounds, most people can afford to drink it without breaking the bank.
So, you’d be surprised to learn that coffee plants aren’t an easy crop to grow. Not only do they require constant effort and attention, but they also need a particular environment.
Read on to find out more about the work that goes into growing this challenging crop and where in the country it is cultivated.
Statistics show that around 30-40% of the world’s population consumes coffee on a daily basis. There are over 2.25 billion cups being enjoyed per day.
With those numbers, you’d assume that coffee can be grown in abundance in every nook and corner of the world. But that’s far from being the reality.
In addition to requiring the perfect environment for growth, it can take up to 1.5 square feet of soil to grow enough crop for a single cup of coffee.
The land, altitude, sunlight, and rainfall all play vital roles in creating the right environment to grow coffee beans.
Ideally, it is recommended to grow coffee in a moderate climate near the equator. In this region, the temperature is predictable, with consistent weather patterns.
According to Barista Joy, only about 70 countries have the appropriate environment to grow coffee to meet the global demand. Among these countries, Brazil is the largest supplier of coffee in the world.
However, due to the increasing demand for coffee yearly, farmers are now trying to find ways to grow coffee outside of the “Coffee Belt.”
Hence, coffee plantations have spread to unexpected places as well, such as the United States.
Coffee Production in the United States
If you trace back the history of coffee beans, you’d learn that coffee production isn’t that old in the U.S.
However, when you consider that coffee beans weren’t discovered until the 15th century, it isn’t exactly new either.
After making its way through a number of countries, coffee was first introduced to Hawaii in the form of Brazilian coffee beans in the 1820s.
Surprisingly, the atmosphere of this region was ideal for coffee plantations. Hence, the agriculture of coffee beans started thriving in Hawaii, resulting in the now-famous Kona Coffee.
About half a decade later, Kona Coffee became an internationally recognized beverage. The smooth texture with a floral, fruit scent was the trademark of this coffee originating from Hawaiian regions.
As coffee production thrived in the region, more and more farmers started cultivating coffee beans on the island. Hamakua, Waialua, Ka’u, Molokai, Kauai, and Puna coffee all have unique flavors to offer.
Today, there are several coffee plantation farms that can be found throughout the island of Hawaii. It is the most popular location for producing Kona coffee.
The coffee belt that produces this unique coffee is located between 200 and 700 feet above sea level on the slopes of the Mauna Loa volcano.
All the Kona Coffee in the world comes from this 2-mile-wide region.
The region is characterized by its black, volcanic soil and has the perfect environment for coffee plants. Hence, it produces some of the finest coffee beans that you can get your hands on.
Coffee can be harvested in Hawaii all year long. However, the late summer and early spring months produce the best yield of the year.
Due to its limited production, Kona coffee tends to be more expensive than other types of coffee that are more widely produced. Yet, the price is usually worth it for most coffee lovers.
When you think about agriculture in Southern California, you likely think of the popular avocado groves. However, as an experimental project, some farmers have started growing coffee alongside avocados.
On several coffee farms between Santa Barbara and San Diego, farmers have planted coffee under the canopies of old avocado trees.
However, it is important to note that the environmental conditions of this region aren’t ideal for coffee production. To overcome this, farmers have created an irrigation system to help the plants thrive.
Despite this unusual way of cultivation, California beans are delicious enough that they are in high demand across the country.
Many people also purchase these coffee bean grounds because they are curious about the taste. Since these coffee beans are a recent development, a large part of the population still hasn’t tried them.
It is believed that if this California coffee experiment proves to be successful in the long run, more regions in the United States may take the cue and start producing their own coffee beans.
There is a low chance of the U.S. becoming a major exporter of coffee in the near future.
However, this experiment could be very helpful in meeting the ever-increasing coffee demand in the country.
Another region in the country that is known for its coffee production is Puerto Rico. Despite its closely studied history of coffee production, the exact origin of Puerto Rican coffee is hard to trace.
It is believed that either a Corsican monk or the Spaniards brought coffee to this island during the 18th century. It is hard to tell when exactly it happened.
Similar to the Hawaiian region, the soil in Puerto Rico is very rich and volcanic. Additionally, it has the right climatic environment to support coffee growth.
Soon after its arrival in the region, the coffee produced in Puerto Rico started becoming popular with the masses.
However, it was the Pope in Rome who really made Puerto Rican coffee popular after dubbing it one of the best coffees in the world.
Why Is It Difficult to Grow Coffee in the United States
Despite being one of the biggest consumers of coffee around the world, the United States isn’t even among the top 10 producers of coffee.
As you can probably tell by now, the United States doesn’t have the best environment to grow coffee.
While this is a question that constantly comes up, the answer may change depending on who you ask.
However, the major hurdles when it comes to producing coffee in the U.S. are the climate and the labor.
A majority of the country does not have the climatic condition to support coffee cultivation. One thing that could change this in the future is climate change.
As the temperature across the globe continues to increase, the convoluted “coffee belt” has started to expand as well. This means that the land deemed hospitable for coffee production is growing as well.
It is possible that this could lead to increased coffee production in various regions in the near future.
Future of Coffee in The United States
As of today, these are the only three regions in the country that produce coffee. However, the coffee produced in Hawaii, California, and Puerto Rico isn’t enough to meet the coffee demand in the country.
This is why most of the coffee consumed in the United States is imported from other regions of the world.
That being said, efforts are being made to improve the coffee production in the country. As discussed earlier, coffee production in California is showing signs of success.
If it continues to thrive, the chances of coffee being produced in other regions in the country would also increase. Following suit, agronomists in Florida have also started experimenting with coffee cultivation.
Whether the endeavor would be successful or not is yet to be confirmed. However, it is proof that local farmers and agronomists in the country aren’t going to give up on coffee production any time soon.
Currently, the only way people in the United States can get their fix of morning coffee is through the high quantity of coffee beans and grounds that are imported into the country.
However, if the experiments prove to be successful, there is a chance that in a couple of years, a significant demand for coffee will be met through the coffee produced locally.
Only time would tell which way the coffee production in the country would go.