When you think about a cup of coffee you are probably not thinking about fruits. But coffee starts with the bright red fruits of the coffee plant. The seeds of these fruits are the coffee beans, which are roasted and then used to prepare coffee. The coffee plant has its origin in Ethiopia where it was discovered around 800 AD in the Kaffa region. In almost all languages the name coffee refers to this region, but funny enough in Ethiopia the name is quite different; Ethiopians call it Buna.
Coffee shrub of Arabia
Pianta del caffè
Basic information and facts
Coffee originates from Ethiopia and north of Kenya.
Tropical regions with a suitable climate: Eastern Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, etc), South-West Arabia, South and Central America (Brazil, Colombia, Nicaragua, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, etc.), and Asia (Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, India, etc.)
Evergreen or deciduous:
Coffee flowers are white and can be 10 to 15 mm in diameter. The flowers grow in clusters and have an nice aromatic smell.
The coffee leaves are opposite, with an elliptic-ovate to oblong shape. Leaves are from 6 to 15 cm long and from 4 to 8 cm wide. The leaves are glossy with dark green color.
Coffee berries are round to oblong and about 1 cm long. At first they are dark green in color, but as they mature they turn first yellow and finally red. Each berry contains two seeds, which are what we call the coffee beans.
Climate and weather:
Coffee requires a cooler tropical climate. In the tropics it is usually grown at altitudes between 1300 and 1500 meters but sometimes higher. Further away from the equator it can be grown on lower altitudes, even sea level. Coffee does not tolerate frost.
Coffea arabica (Arabica coffee) is self-pollinating.
Coffee plants can grow to 7 meters tall or more, but are usually pruned to just 2 or 3 meter for easier harvesting.
All flowers bloom simultaneously. It takes 7 to 9 months for the fruits to be ripe.
Type of soil:
Coffee prefers rich fertile soils. Responds well to compost and manure and the use of a thick mulch.
Coffee requires 1000 to 1500 mm of rain, preferably spread over the entire year.
Traditionally coffee is grown under shade (inter-planted with shade trees: the “coffee-mama”) but modern cultivation is also done in full sun light. The shaded plantations have often lower yields, but higher quality coffee. The shaded plantations are also more environmentally friendly because of the greater bio-diversity, and they use less fertilizers and pesticides.
Spacing (close range)
Spacing (wide range)
Usually propagated by seed, but also grafting.
Several insects attack coffee, for example leaf miners and coffee berry borer.
Coffee fruits take 7 to 9 months to mature. The color changes from dark green, via yellow to bright red.
Pick the berries when ripe.
From ripe fruits the flesh of the berry is removed (usually by machine). The seeds (coffee beans) are then fermented to remove the slimy layer which still covers the bean. Then the beans are washed to remove fermentation residue and dried. The green seeds are then roasted before they are used to brew coffee. There are many different ways to brew coffee: boiled, steeped, or pressured.
Proverbs and Quotes
- A cup of coffee commits one to forty years of friendship.
- And then there is coffee! (Dutch advertisement)
- Coffee and love are best when they are hot.
- Coffee and love taste best when hot.
- Coffee from the top of the cup and chocolate from the bottom.
- Coffee has two virtues, it’s wet and it’s warm.
- Coffee is our bread. (Ethiopian proverb)
- Coffee is to wake up, coffee is to work with, coffee is to live with, coffee is life.
- Coffee leads men to trifle away their time, scald their chops, and spend their money, all for a little base, black, thick, nasty, bitter, stinking nauseous puddle water.
- Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love.
- Conscience keeps more people awake than coffee.
- Everybody needs something to believe. I believe I’ll have another cup of coffee!
- Instant Human: Just Add Coffee.
- Is there life before coffee?
- This is coffee of yesterday. If you want coffee of today, please come back tomorrow.
- You can’t take the milk back from the coffee.
- Coffee is a beverage that puts one to sleep when not drank. (by: Alphonse Allais)
- Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and fat. (by: Alex Levine)
- Black as the devil, Hot as hell, Pure as an angel, Sweet as love. (by: Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand)
- It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity. (by: Dave Barry)
- I like my coffee strong and my women weak. (Alexander Pappas)
- Too much coffee is bad for my health. I don’t know if it will kill me, but if it does I hope to come back as a coffee pot.
Did you know that?
- People often add some sugar to their coffee. However, in some villages in Ethiopia the people use salt and/or butter to flavor their coffee.