The origins of coffee in Asia

Who made your morning brew?

by Zafirah Mohamed Zein

A steaming hot cup of coffee is, for many of us, a daily ritual. We depend on its delicious taste and dose of caffeine to power us through the day. But how much do we actually know about where our favourite beverage comes from?

Colonialism brought coffee to Asia
Coffee's post-colonial spread in Asia
Asia's poorest produce; wealthier Westerners consume
As roasters and retailers profit, farmers see deficits
Smallholder farmers get the short end of the stick

Methodology: The steps in the flowchart are a generalisation of the process from green beans to a cup of retail coffee. In some cases, processing and milling may be carried out by the farmers themselves. The price per step (USD/kg of coffee) was computed and estimated using two main sources: the Special Coffee Association’s Economics of the Coffee Supply Chain and the Nordic Approach’s Transparency in Ethiopia report.

Climate threat in Asia will hurt farmers, and disrupt coffee supply
What is ethical coffee, and where can I get a cup?
Riding the third wave with specialty coffee
Making Asia’s coffee scene ethical takes a whole world
Remembering the hands that pick your coffee
Disclaimer: Our stories have been researched and fact-checked to the best of our abilities. Should you spot mistakes, inaccuracies, or have queries about our sources, please drop us an e-mail at
Data visualisation / Bianchi Dy
Design / Munirah Mansoor
Illustration / Griselda Gabriele & Munirah Mansoor
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