Arabica coffee was first planted in South Africa early in the 1900s and under the government price support self sufficiency program from the 1970s through to 1994, this production increased to reach peaks as high as 3,000 metric tonnes per annum. Once the country gained its new government though and with the dictates of world trade that came with international recognition, these support programs were removed.
This saw the majority of the relatively high cost coffee farms being forced to replace their coffee with more economically viable crops. At present no more than 200 ha of Coffee are under production in South Africa, mostly in the KwaZulu Natal and Mpumalanga provinces.
The South African roasting industry is dominated by the soluble coffee industry, which is likewise dominated by blends of Robusta coffee with chicory and dextrose. There is though also a smaller production of pure soluble coffee, made from a blend of Robusta and Arabica coffees as there are also exports from South Africa of both the blended and pure soluble coffees into the African countries to the north.
There are also a large number of medium and smaller roasters in the country who concentrate on top quality roast and ground coffees, which consume approximately 6,000 metric tonnes of mostly Arabica coffees. These coffees due to the sophisticated nature of the South African market and the industry are imported from South and Central America, Asia and from all of the AFCA member countries.