Ask the Coffee Lab: Does Coffee Grow in North America

It’s the first week of November, and you know what that means: time for another edition of Ask the Coffee Lab.

This week’s question is a grouping of a number of inquiries from the Twittervesere and Customer Care:

“I've heard of coffees from Africa and South America, but why not North America?”

Great question! This is one that we get quite a bit.

First, some background: Coffee comes from a plant that grows in over 100 hundred different countries around the planet, generally between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. If you don't have a map in front of you, those are the two lines on the globe at 23.5 degrees North and 23.5 degrees South of the Equator. As a refresher back to grade school, the Equator is where the days and nights are the same length, they never vary, and it's pretty hot.

Coffee is a tropical plant that needs plenty of sun and water, but it also is a bit of a "Goldilocks" plant. It doesn't want to be too hot, not too cool, not too rainy, and not too dry. It does terribly with frost and hates drought.

With all of that in mind, coffee does actually does grow in North America. Mexico is one of the top ten largest producers in the world and is (another refresher from school) part of North America.

But what I think you may have really meant is if coffee grows within the United States.  Yes, coffee does grow in the United States, in the country’s 50th state specifically!  Hawaii is a great place to grow plenty of coffee like the Kona coffee in our Extra Bold 10% Kona Blend.  It’s tropical, hot, and has weather patterns that make coffee plants quite content.

Vermont is not tropical, hot year-round, and tends to have weather patterns that change hourly; however, in our coffee lab here in Waterbury, Vermont, we have a coffee plant sitting inside by a big window. There's also a nice older lady who lives 30-minutes south of here and has a number of coffee trees on her patio, but only in the summer. Plenty of people grow coffee trees in the continental United Sates, but no one is doing it commercially to our knowledge.

Hope that helped to answer your coffee quandary!

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