A Social Drink The proliferation of coffeehouses established a pattern that continues through to this day. First, coffee is a social drink, often enjoyed in public. Second, countries whose climate doesn’t allow them to produce coffee are the greatest consumers of coffee beans (to use botanically incorrect term). Coffee grows at high altitudes within the tropics – think of mountainous countries that hug the equator, like Colombia and Kenya, or India and Indonesia – but coffee culture is strongest in United States, Europe (especially northern countries like Denmark and Sweden) and, in what might come as a surprise to many, Japan, which recently leapfrogged Italy and France to become the world’s third-largest coffee importer. The notable exception is Brazil, which is the world’s largest producer of coffee and the second-greatest consumer.