Ceylon coffee refers to coffee that is grown and produced in Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon. Sri Lanka has a long history of coffee cultivation, dating back to the early 19th century when coffee was introduced to the island by the British colonialists.
During the 19th century, Ceylon coffee gained recognition and became an important export commodity. The high-quality coffee beans produced in the region were known for their bright acidity, medium body, and aromatic flavours. Ceylon coffee became particularly popular in Europe and was highly regarded in the coffee industry.
However, the coffee industry in Sri Lanka faced significant challenges in the late 19th century. A devastating coffee leaf rust disease, known as Hemileia vastatrix, affected coffee plantations across the island, leading to a decline in production. To combat the disease and revive the agricultural sector, coffee plantations were replaced with tea, which proved to be more resistant to the leaf rust disease.
As a result, the focus shifted from coffee to tea production in Sri Lanka, and the once-thriving Ceylon coffee industry diminished. Today, while Sri Lanka is renowned for its tea production, coffee cultivation has experienced a resurgence in recent years, albeit on a smaller scale.
Ceylon coffee is known for its unique flavour profile. The coffee produced in Sri Lanka tends to be mild, with bright acidity and citrusy or floral notes. The country’s diverse microclimates, high altitudes, and fertile soils contribute to the distinctive characteristics of Ceylon coffee.
Although Ceylon coffee may not be as widely known as other coffee origins, such as Ethiopia or Colombia, it still holds a special place in the hearts of coffee enthusiasts. The small-scale production and unique flavour profile make it a sought-after speciality coffee for those who appreciate the variety and diversity found in the world of coffee.