Ivory Coast is a West African state bordering the Gulf of Guinea.
The west coast is characterized by the presence of reefs, bays and rocky headlands; the east coast is traversed by large, deep lagoons, much of which is inaccessible to the sea due to the presence of small sandy archipelagos that form a natural barrier between the coastal zone and the open sea.
The hinterland is characterized by dense rainforests that rapidly slope northward, giving way to sparser vegetation typical of savannas.
The only reliefs present are in the western regions of Man and Odienné, including the Nimba Mountains, more than 1,750 m.
Ivory Coast’s climate is hot and humid, subequatorial on the southern coast, tropical in the center, and arid in the north.
The Liberica species coffee plant was introduced by Arthur Verdier in 1885. In 1910 a European grower named Beynis introduced a Gabonese strain, which quickly spread to the Anyi region. But the real takeoff came with the introduction of the Robusta species from Java and the Belgian Congo in 1915. Robusta in fact adapted well to the climate and proved resistant to disease.
In the past, Ivory Coast was one of the largest coffee producers in the world: from independence in 1960 until the early 1980s, the country enjoyed a long period of remarkable economic development, but in the following years the economy came to a screeching halt as prices of key export products plummeted and suffered further damage from the drought that affected the country. A privatization program was inaugurated and the government unsuccessfully attempted to differentiate the national economy. Despite these efforts, Ivory Coast still continued to depend largely on agriculture and related activities: today 70 percent of the population is employed in the agribusiness sector, thus forming the sector on which the country’s economy is based, causing fluctuations in international prices and weather conditions to affect its performance.
Ivory Coast is now among the largest coffee producers, reaching quantities that meet much of the world’s demand for natural and washed Robusta. A substantial portion of this grade is used for the production of soluble coffee. In addition to Robusta, Arabusta, a hybrid between Arabica and Robusta created in the 1970s by the parastatal body Centre d’Étude pour le Développement de l’Arabusta (CEDAR), is grown and is now mostly dedicated to the French market.
This variety has higher production and greater resistance to disease and dry climate, traits typical of the Robusta species, but also some of the nobler characteristics of Arabica.
In general, the cultivation altitude is around 300 to 400 mslm.
Ivory Coast coffees are classified into Grades and categories to which correspond certain percentages of sieves and a certain number of defects. The best one is Ivory Coast Robusta Gr.0 Excellence category. Next, progressively going up with Grade, we find Extra Prime (Gr. 1), Prime( Gr. 2), Superior (Gr.3) and Courant( Gr.4). Exported coffee must be free of unpleasant odors. It must not contain black beans, cherries, and the number of defects must be within the limits set by the defect table used for Robusta coffees. Ivory Coast Grade 0 and 1 coffee can be used in good espresso blends, in a minimum percentage, to give some body and crema to the product.