Coffee Plants Facts and Information About Coffee Trees
Coffee plants are native to Africa and southern Asia. Technically the coffee plant is a shrub, not a tree, though they are often called coffee trees. They belong to the scientific Family called Rubiaceae.
It takes about five years for a coffee plant to full produce and then this will continue for about twenty years and much longer depending on the conditions. About one pound of of coffee beans are produced by each plant each year.
When coffee plants bloom they produce small and very fragrant, white blossoms which bloom in clusters. Each bloom lasts just a few days but the blooming occurs over a period of several months. The plant's leaves are dark green and glossy and somewhat ovate in shape.
Fruiting and Production
After the coffee plant blooms it produces fruit which is known as coffee cherry. Each fruit measures about .6 inches long. The berry starts out green and then ripens and changes color, first to yellow and then crimson/orange. Finally it full ripens to a bright red to reddish-black color. At this time it is ready for harvest so that the coffee beans can be gathered. From the time of the fruit first forming to harvest takes about eight months. There are some coffee varietals that ripen to a yellow color instead of red.
Once the coffee cherry are harvested from the coffee plants they are processed. This may be done by either wet processing or dry processing. Wet processing involves pulping, fermentation and milling. Dry processing involves drying the coffee when the fruit still on the coffee beans. During drying the coffee cherry/coffee beans are raked until eventually the beans are free of most of the dried fruit remnants.
The different methods of coffee processing produce different general flavors and aromas. Once the coffee beans are processed they are known as green coffee beans though their color is usually somewhat bluish-green. Typically the green bean will have a moisture content of about ten percent and at this time it is ready to be roasted.
A peaberry coffee bean consists of a coffee cherry that holds within it one whole coffee bean rather than two half-beans. Only about one percent to seven percent of all coffee cherry contain peaberry coffee beans. Peaberry coffee is known to have a robust taste perhaps due to the increased density of the bean. The brewed cup of peaberry coffee is also known for its rich aroma and smooth consistency.
Most all commercial coffee comes from the three main types of coffee coffee plant varietals. These three varietals are Arabica, Robusta, and Liberica. Most all of the world's specialty coffees come from coffee beans of the varietal Coffea arabica.
Detailed information about coffee plant varietals, coffee cherry, green coffee beans and more can be found in the Coffee and Espresso Glossary. The interesting story of how coffee plants spread out of Africa and around the world can be explored by reading the World's Best History of Coffee.
Bonus Coffee Plant Information
Advanced information about coffee plants and the problems that occur with crops as well as new technologies to develop better coffee plants can be found in the sections detailing coffee plant diseases and pests and also selective breeding.