Varieties of C. arabica are important export crops in many countries, especially in South America and East Africa. Brazil is the leading producer. The only other species of commercial importance is C. robusta, a West African native also widely grown in Central Africa and Asia. Fluctuations in supply and demand have historically played havoc with world coffee markets and with the economies of individual growers and exporting countries. Efforts to stabilize the markets began with a 1940 agreement, administered by the Inter-American Coffee Board, allocating U.S. coffee imports from Latin America. A global agreement under the International Coffee Organization, a body of 70 coffee-producing and -consuming countries, expired in 1989.
In many cultures throughout its history, coffee has been served in coffeehouses, cafés, and other places of public refreshment, often as an aid and accompaniment to political or artistic activity, gambling, or gossip, or to solo rumination. Coffee's popularity in the United States peaked in 1962, when three-quarters of people over 10 years of age drank at least a cup a day; in 1992 only about half did. Beginning about 1990 U.S. consumers became increasingly interested in premium coffees and stronger, richer brews.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.