What is the origin of coffee beans?
Coffee beans are derived from the coffee bean plant, a shrub or bush that shares similarities with a berry bush or grapevine. These plants can grow quite tall, towering above the average person. Coffee plants boast lush, waxy leaves that are typically dark green, though they can occasionally take on shades of purple or yellow. You can catch a glimpse of these distinctive plants in action in the accompanying video.
The world of coffee plants is characterized by the diversity of species, with two primary varieties being the Arabica and Robusta plants. While this may seem like a straightforward distinction, in truth, each category is comprised of numerous variations and cultivars, each with their own unique characteristics and flavor profiles.
Arabica coffee plants reign supreme when it comes to variety and yield, boasting dozens of unique cultivars cultivated all around the world. These plants thrive in the "coffee belt," a stretch of equatorial countries with the ideal growing conditions for coffee. It is from this elite family that we derive many of the highly sought-after, artisanal coffee blends.
Robusta coffee plants, originating from the Coffea canephora plant, constitute the other half of the coffee family tree, with only two distinct cultivars - C. c. robusta and C. c. nganda. Despite the limited number of variations, the Robusta plants play a crucial role in the coffee industry, producing high volumes of lower-quality coffee cherries that are used in a vast array of coffee products worldwide. These plants' sturdiness and resilience make them an integral component of the coffee industry, providing the foundation for daily coffee consumption for millions of people worldwide.
Coffee plants generally take about a year to begin flowering, and it can be an additional two to three years before they bear fruit. However, once matured, a coffee plant that is appropriately situated in the shade can live for 30 to 40 years or more. The first two decades are considered the most valuable to farmers as this is when the plant reaches a commercial production level. Witness the incredible journey of a coffee plant sprouting through a time-lapse video.