Coffee is a favorite beverage for many people. Drinking coffee in the morning or afternoon is a ritual for many of us. It is a great beverage to take in moderation.
A good cup of coffee can improve your mood and increase your focus due to its caffeine content.
Coffee also provides our bodies with minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and vitamins like Vitamin B3. It also contains lots of antioxidants such as chlorogenic acids that can improve our health.
Have you ever wondered where coffee really comes from? Although we buy roasted coffee beans at roasteries, coffee shops, or supermarkets, you may be amazed to discover the processes it goes through to get there.
It all starts from the Coffee beans tree.
Where Did Coffee Bean Trees Come From?
The coffee bean tree, also known as the Coffea tree, is an evergreen tropical shrub that grows between the Tropics of Capricorn or Cancer in a region referred to as the Bean Belt.
There are claims that coffee trees were first discovered on the Ethiopian plateau by a goat herder in the 9th century.
That was after he noticed a change in his goats when they ate berries from a strange shrub.
When the goat herder decided to taste the berries, he felt energized. That opened the door for people to chew on coffee beans enjoying their sweet pulp while others crunched on the seeds inside them.
In time, coffee found its way to other regions where it was grown at a large scale. The main reason for coffee’s popularity worldwide was and continues to be its energizing and mood-enhancing capabilities.
Today, there are over 120 species of coffee bean trees in the world. These trees grow in Africa, South America, Central America, Asia, and the Middle East.
60 percent of these coffee trees face extinction due to attacks from pests and diseases.
A few species remain that are used to produce the coffee beans we buy in supermarkets, grocery stores, coffee shops, and roasteries.
Characteristics of a Coffee Beans Tree?
Coffee bean trees are shrubs or trees with waxy, dark green leaves that grow in pairs. These branches hold the coffee cherries from which we get coffee seeds during the harvesting season.
It takes 3-5 years for a coffee bean tree to mature and start bearing coffee cherries that are originally green in color. When they are ready for harvesting, these cherries eventually turn red, yellow, or orange, depending on the coffee tree variety.
Coffee trees require yearly pruning to keep them from growing too tall. It also protects coffee cherries from sunlight and makes it easy for coffee farmers to harvest coffee.
The pruning of coffee trees also encourages them to produce lateral branches that increase the production of cherries.
Factors like coffee seed variety, climate, and soil type determine the quality of coffee beans that a coffee tree produces. These trees can live for 30 – 40 years if properly maintained.
Different Types of Coffee Trees
Two major species produce the bulk of the coffee we buy. These are Arabica coffee trees and Canephora coffee trees.
Arabica coffee trees are large bushes with glossy green oval leaves that thrive in shady, humid regions. They grow to about 5 m tall and produce cherries in 7 – 9 months.
These coffee trees prefer temperatures of about 60 -75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Arabica coffee trees are considered delicate because they are susceptible to disease. Farmers must put a lot of care and effort into growing these trees to ensure they receive a good harvest.
The Canephora or Robusta coffee beans tree is drug-resistant and can withstand harsh climates such as variations in temperature or rainfall.
It is a small tree or shrub that only grows to about 10 meters high. Its cherries take about 11 months to mature.
Robusta coffee trees are more economical to grow, which is why they cost less than Arabica coffee beans.
What is a Coffee Bean?
The fruits of Arabica and Robusta coffee bean trees produce cherries that contain the seeds we refer to as coffee beans.
A coffee tree can yield about 2-4 kilos of coffee cherries that are harvested by hand or machine.
Although you may not know it, the seeds removed from these cherries are usually green before they are roasted to the light or dark brown hue you are familiar with.
Arabica and Robusta coffee varieties produce uniquely flavored coffee beans that only differ in size. Robusta coffee beans are smaller than Arabica coffee beans.
Most coffee shops brew coffee using 100 % Arabica coffee beans, which have a high-quality aroma and flavor. Coffee made using Arabica coffee beans is sweet due to their high acidity, sugar content, and floral or fruity flavors.
Robusta coffee beans contain less sugars than Arabica coffee beans. They are characterized by bitter, earthy flavors ideal for brewing Espresso or instant coffee.
Now you know something about coffee bean trees. You have an idea of where your coffee beans come from and the best coffee-producing trees.
We’ve also given you some information on the processes that coffee beans go through to get to your cup.
The next time you enjoy a coffee made from Arabica or Robusta coffee beans, you’ll be informed about where they come from. You may also like to grow a coffee tree at home just to see how it develops.
It would be nice to pick some cherries from your homegrown coffee tree and process them. Just find a shady spot in your garden with slightly acidic, fertile, porous soil, and plant a coffee bean tree from a seedling.
You can buy coffee seedlings and trees online. Some people grow coffee beans as indoor plants and get a few beans every year.
You may also enjoy roasting coffee beans from a tree you’ve grown from scratch in your oven or a commercial home coffee beans roaster.
That way, you can compare what you grow and process with what you get from the roastery or coffee shop.