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WHAT IS COFFEE?

Everyone knows what a roasted coffee bean looks like, but you might not know what a coffee plant looks like. Coffee trees are cut low to preserve energy and ease in harvesting, but they can grow to heights of more than 30 feet (9 meters). One tree is coated in green, waxy leaves that grow in pairs opposite each other. Along the branches, coffee cherries grow. Because it grows in a continuous cycle, it is not uncommon to see blossoms, green fruit, and ripe fruit all on the same tree.

After the first flowering, it takes roughly a year for a cherry to mature, and it takes around 5 years to reach full fruit output. Coffee plants can live for up to 100 years, but they are most productive between the ages of 7 and 20. Depending on the variety, proper maintenance can preserve and even increase their productivity over time. The average coffee tree yields 10 pounds of coffee cherries per year, which equates to 2 pounds of green beans. All commercially farmed coffee comes from the Coffee Belt region of the world. Rich soil, warm temperatures, frequent rain, and sheltered sun are ideal conditions for tree growth.

Coffee trees can grow to heights of more than 30 feet (9 meters). Coffee plants can live for up to 100 years, but they are most productive between the ages of 7 and 20. The average coffee tree yields 10 pounds of coffee cherries per year, equating to 2 pounds of green beans.

CLASSIFICATION OF PLANTS

Coffee’s origins can be traced back to a plant genus known as Coffea. There are roughly 500 genera and 6,000 species of tropical trees and shrubs under the genus. Coffee plant species are thought to number between 25 and 100, according to experts.

Carolus Linneaus, a Swedish botanist, described the genus in the 18th century, along with Coffea Arabica in his Species Plantarum in 1753. Since then, botanists have debated on the precise classification, owing to the enormous diversity of coffee plants. They can range in size from little shrubs to tall trees, with leaves ranging in size from one to 16 inches and colors ranging from purple or yellow to the predominate dark green. Arabica and Robusta are the two most important coffee species in the commercial coffee industry.

Coffee plant species are thought to number between 25 and 100, according to experts. They can range in size ranging from little shrubs to tall trees, with leaves ranging in size from one to 16 inches. There are 6,000 species of tropical trees and shrubs under the genus Coffea. Carolus Linneaus, a Swedish botanist, described the genus in the 18th century.

ARABICA COFFEA — C. ARABICA

Bourbon, Typica, Caturra, Mundo Novo, Tico, San Ramon, Jamaican Blue Mountain are some of the varieties available. Coffea Arabica is a descendant of the first coffee trees found in Ethiopia. These plants produce a fine, mellow, aromatic coffee and account for almost 70% of global coffee production. The beans are flatter and longer than Robusta and have less caffeine.

Arabica coffees command the highest prices on the global market. The best Arabicas are produced at high altitudes, often between 2,000 and 6,000 feet (610 to 1830 meters) above sea level, while optimal altitude varies with proximity to the equator.

 The most crucial criterion is that temperatures remain warm, ideally between 59 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, with approximately 60 inches of rain per year. Although the trees are hardy, a heavy winter will destroy them. Arabica trees are expensive to produce since the suitable location is hilly and difficult to access. Furthermore, because the trees are more susceptible to disease than Robusta, they necessitate more care and attention.

Coffa Arabica is a descendant of the first coffee trees found in Ethiopia. These plants produce a fine, mellow, aromatic coffee and account for almost 70% of global coffee production. The beans are flatter and longer than Robusta and have less caffeine. Arabica coffees command the highest prices on the global market.

ROBUSTA

The majority of the world’s Robusta is grown in Central and Western Africa, Southeast Asia (including Indonesia and Vietnam), and Brazil. Robusta production is rising while accounting for just approximately 30% of the global market. Robusta is most found in mixes and instant coffees. The Robusta bean is slightly rounder and smaller than the Arabica bean.

Robusta trees are tougher and more resistant to disease and parasites, making cultivation easier and less expensive. It also has the advantage of being tolerant of milder climes, preferring consistent temperatures between 75- and 85-degrees Fahrenheit, allowing it to grow at far lower altitudes than Arabica. It requires approximately 60 inches of rainfall per year and is not frost-resistant. Robusta beans provide a coffee with a distinct flavor and around 50-60% more caffeine than Arabica beans.

Robusta bean is slightly rounder and smaller than the Arabica bean. Robusta beans provide a coffee with a distinct flavor and around 50-60% more caffeine than Arabica beans. It also has the advantage of being tolerant of milder climes and temperatures between 75- to 85-degrees Fahrenheit.

THE COFFEE CHERRY’S ANATOMY

The coffee beans you brew are actually the processed and roasted seeds of a fruit known as a coffee cherry. The exocarp is the outer skin of the coffee cherry. The mesocarp, a thin layer of pulp beneath it, is followed by the parenchyma, a slimy layer. The beans themselves are encased in a paper-like envelope known as the endocarp, sometimes known as the parchment.

Inside the parchment, two beans are lined up side by side, each separated by a thin membrane. The actual name for this seed skin is the spermoderm, although it is commonly referred to as the silver skin in the coffee trade.

Coffee beans are the roasted seeds of a coffee cherry. The beans themselves are encased in a paper-like envelope known as the endocarp. The actual name for this seed skin is the spermoderm, although it is commonly referred to as the silver skin.

Image Credit: researchgate.net

There is only one bean inside the cherry in around 5% of the world’s coffee. This is a natural mutation known as a peaberry (also known as a caracol or “snail” in Spanish). Peaberries are occasionally manually sorted for special sales because some people believe they are sweeter and tastier than normal beans.

This article was written for Ceylon Coffee Federation.