With the exception of climate-controlled greenhouses, coffee must be grown in specific climates, which limits its growth to specific regions of the world.
For Arabica coffee, which is the most common type of coffee around the world, there are a few regions best suited for growing.
In subtropical regions, above and below and equator, where the altitude is between 1,800 and 3,600 feet. In these regions, there is a single coffee growing season and maturation season. Temperatures should be around 60-75ºF, and there should be between 60-100 inches of rain over a nine month period, with a three month dry season. Mexico, Jamaica, Zimbabwe, and parts of Brazil are areas that have these conditions.
In regions on the equator, altitudes should be between 3,600 and 6,300 feet. In these regions, rather than a single growing season, there are two growing season, due to the higher rainfall and more consistent temperatures. Countries that have these growing conditions include Ethiopia, Kenya, and Colombia.
A lesser known region for growing coffee is in Hawaii. Hawaii is farther north than the typical growing regions, but its climate and altitude make it a great place to grow coffee. Within the islands of Hawaii, there are four separate regions: Puna, Ka’u, Hamakua, and Kona.
The unique volcanic soil in Hawaii contains different minerals, which affect the taste and the acidity. Coffee from the Puna region, for example, is more acidic due to the higher levels of sulfur in the soil, while Hamakua coffee is much less acidic. The Kona region grows coffee in different altitudes, resulting in moderately-acidic cups in low altitudes and deeply-acidic cups in higher altitudes.
It takes a lot of time and a lot of coffee tastings to learn how to not only tell the difference between each different type of coffee, but to also tell what region or country a coffee is from. The taste of a cup of coffee can be completely changed depending on the location, the altitude, and the soil.