Ethiopia is the largest exporter of African coffee production. The country is responsible for harvesting and distributing 3% of the world’s overall coffee bean supply. Hence, the 2022 output was about four million bags of coffee beans.
Uganda is the next leading exporter of coffee beans with almost $595 million in sales annually. Let’s analyze the overall outlook of African coffee production to see where it is going for 2023.
Outlook on Africa’s Coffee Industry
The demand for coffee beans in Africa and worldwide is expected to increase over the coming decade. African coffee beans undergo dry processing, which is the most ancient way of harvesting and packaging coffee beans for shipment.
This natural processing method involves cleaning the coffee beans by hand and drying them under the sun.
Harvesters turn the beans over every so often to ward off mildew growth. Sometimes it can take about a month for coffee beans to be fully ready for shipment.
This age-old harvesting method will keep up with domestic demand and a continual strong standing when marketing the coffee beans to international buyers.
Overall, African coffee production makes up 12% of the overall worldwide production of coffee beans. Ethiopia (39%) and Uganda (23%) account for 62% of coffee bean distribution. Cote d’Ivoire comes in third place, producing 13% of coffee beans in the nation.
Tanzania accounts for 6% of African coffee production. Kenya contributes another 5% of the workload.
Plus, the rare peaberry coffee bean hails from these areas in Africa. Rather than two seeds in one coffee bean, peaberry coffee beans have one, which only happens in up to 10% of coffee cherries harvested worldwide.
Most coffee farms, especially in East Africa, are much smaller than others based in Asia and even Latin America. This could be the reason why African coffee production only accounts for 12% of overall worldwide.
Transportation costs are high to transfer coffee beans from local farms to interested buyers. Distance from the farm to buyer destinations is extremely long and there can be many torrential downpours along the way.
African coffee production continues to be what earns the nation high export funds. Since their prices are low, yet reasonable, investing in the African coffee industry supports local farmers’ livelihood.
Unfortunately, while selling and growing coffee beans are lucrative for domestic and international buyers, it is not as successful for East African farmers. They usually earn under one dollar per day for their hard work. Some growth opportunities would be higher pay for African farmers who work tirelessly to produce a delicious coffee bean crop daily.
Threats and Challenges
Coffee growth in West Africa will soon face challenges as impending climate changes reported in September 2022 will eventually affect the coffee bean crop. The study from early 2022 stated that the climate may not be able to sustain the coffee bean crops by the time it is 2050.
Another study from 2019 revealed that three-fifths of the coffee bean species are subject to extinction in the coming years because of deforestation, upcoming climate changes, and diseased crops.
Of the 75 coffee species analyzed, scientists found that 22 are vulnerable to climate change without as much threat as the 13 highly endangered species. Amongst the highly endangered species of coffee beans is coffee arabica. The remaining 40 species in the study were classed on normal-level endangerment.
Reports have shown that Kenya may experience a 10% decrease in coffee bean production for the 2022-2023 season. However, the country did increase its coffee bean output in 2022 to 51,538 metric tonnes compared to the 34,000 generated in 2021.
The Top Coffee Companies in Africa
Here are the top companies in African coffee production to highlight the nation’s export outputs for the critical product.
Kaweri Coffee Plantation
Kaweri Coffee Plantation outputs upwards of 3,000 tons of green coffee beans every year. It is the largest coffee farm in Uganda that spans 2,512 hectares, which includes 1,626 hectares of the plantation housing their signature 100-year-old Robusta coffee trees and the remaining area are woodlots.
Yirgacheffe Ethiopia Coffee
Yirgacheffe brand coffee from Ethiopia is one of the most highly successful companies in that country. Its fruity notes of blackberry, lemon, and blueberry complement the other floral flavors inside the blend.
It’s certified organic by the USDA as well as kosher and fairtrade certified. As a single-origin coffee, it is considered a top-performing best-seller on many online coffee platforms.
Kaffa Forest Coffee Farmers’ Cooperative Union
Kaffa Forest Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union is located in Bonga in Ethiopia’s Kaffa region. The cooperative can produce up to 630 tons every year over the 3,607 hectares of farmland.
These 100% organic coffee beans are shipped internationally to the United States, Germany, Australia, and Japan for international sellers and consumers to enjoy.
The Best African Coffee Beans
Kenyan coffee has a distinct berry flavor, which makes it one of the more highly desired coffee beans around the world. Because of how Kenyan coffee farmers grow the beans at higher altitudes such as on Mount Kenya, the area’s coffee beans have developed a unique flavor, unlike any other African coffee bean.
The coffee trees holding the beans before harvesting can steadily and slowly grow to optimize their flavors at 1,500 meters or higher. In Ethiopia, about half of their coffee bean crop grows at these high altitudes to create their distinct flavors.
The Future of African Coffee Production
While climate changes continue to threaten African coffee production, the natural processing methods will keep the nation at the higher end of coffee bean quality and successful distribution.
Since most are organic coffee beans, this means they do not use agrochemicals or other fertilizers that increase overall production.
Despite African coffee production’s lack of new crops to expand its original portfolio, the nation is expected to maintain a delicious coffee bean crop for many years to come. As coffee demand increases domestically and internationally, African coffee production is expected to boost to meet that demand.
Arne Preuss is a former barista and the founder of Coffeeness, a popular online resource for all things coffee-related. Arne initially specialized in evaluating super automatic espresso machines. However, since that time, his expertise has expanded to include every possible form of coffee maker.