· Founding Date: December 29, 1841
· Area: 680 square miles
· Population: 49,948 (2010 Census)
· Major Waterways: Pea River
· Major Highways: I-84
· County Seat: Elba
· Largest City: Enterprise
Coffee County was created by an act of the Alabama State Legislature on December 29, 1841, and was named for Gen. John Coffee, who fought in the Creek War of 1813-14. Originally part of Dale County, the first border of Coffee County extended to Florida. In 1868 the southern border of the county was used in the formation of Geneva County. The first county seat was located at Wellborn, but was later moved to Elba in 1852. During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Coffee County was a major cotton growing area, but the arrival of the boll weevil in 1915 ruined the industry. After the cotton crop was completely destroyed in 1916, Coffee County farmers were forced to shift to a new crop. Coffee county extension agent John Pittman, inspired by George Washington Carver's research, introduced peanuts to the area, and a the new staple crop proved successful. In 1919 Roscoe Fleming, a merchant in the town of Enterprise, erected a monument to commemorate the pest that forced the county to seek out new crops and gain new successes in farming. The Boll Weevil Monument holds the distinction as the only known monument erected to a pest.
Comprising approximately 680 square miles, Coffee County lies in the southern area of the state, wholly within the Coastal Plain physiographic section. Coffee County was carved out of the western portion of Dale County. It is bounded to north by Pike County, to the east by Dale County, to the south by Geneva County, and to the west by Covington and Crenshaw counties. The Pea River, the largest tributary of the Choctawhatchee River, runs from north to south in the center of the county. Several smaller tributaries of the Pea River, including Double Bridges, Tight Eye, Beaverdam, Whitewater, Big, and Steep Head creeks, intersect the county. Interstate 84, running east-west in the southern half of the county, is the largest transportation route. Carl Folsom Airport and Enterprise Municipal Airport are the county's only airports.
Coffee County had a largely agricultural economy during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Although many farmers raised hogs and cattle, the major crop was cotton. In 1915 the arrival of the boll weevil changed Coffee County's economy forever. That year, the weevil destroyed more than 60 percent of the harvest. The following year, farmers planted a huge crop of cotton and attempted to combat the boll weevil, but these efforts failed, and the entire cotton crop was virtually destroyed. Coffee County farmers thus were forced to look for another staple crop and turned to the peanut. In 1917 the county grew and harvested the largest peanut crop—more than one million bushels for market—of any county in the nation, and peanuts remain the most important cash crop in the county. In 1911, the town of Elba became synonymous with Dorsey Trailers, a manufacturing company that produces hauling equipment, machinery trailers, truck bodies, and platforms. The main employer in Elba for the majority of the twentieth century, Dorsey Trailers closed in November 2000 and its assets were acquired by Street Asset Management in June 2001. Fort Rucker, constructed during WWII, is also a major employer.
· Retail trade (14.6 percent)
· Manufacturing (12.9 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing, and utilities (7.6 percent)
· Public administration (7.5 percent)
· Construction (7.1 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (6.3 percent)
· Finance and insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (5.7 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (5.7 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (4.5 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (4.1 percent)
· Wholesale trade (2.8 percent)
· Information (0.8 percent)
Events and Places of Interest
The Pea River is ideal for fishing and is considered one of the best canoeing areas in south Alabama. Every spring, the town of Enterprise hosts the Piney Woods Art Festival, featuring local art, food, and live entertainment.