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Karikass, J - Coffea arabica

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 5 months ago


Coffea Arabica


While there are several different species of coffee grown and harvested worldwide, Coffea Arabica accounts for 75-80% of the worlds coffee production.  More commonly known as Arabica coffee, it is also known as the “coffee shrub of Arabia”, or “mountain coffee”.  Native to the Afrotropic Biome, Ethiopian montane forests more specifically, it is believed to be the first species of coffee to be cultivated, being grown in southwest Arabia and Ethiopia for well over 1000 years and is considered better than any other commercially grown coffee species, despite its lower caffeine content than any other commercially-grown species.


            Coffea Arabica fully matures after about seven years and does best with about 40-59 inches of rain dispersed evenly through the year.  The plant is tolerate of low temperatures but will not survive a frost.  Prime growing temperature for the plant is around 20 degrees Celsius and is most cooperative when grown in a light shade.  Three to four years into the growing process, Coffea Arabica produces a small, white flower.  This flower has a highly pungent fragrance similar to that of the jasmine flower.  It is proven that flowers which open on sunny days produce the greatest number of berries.  This however can serve as a problem and can reduce the harvest of berries in the following years of this annual as the berries will ripen regardless of the state of health it is in producing an inferior crop.  ON Plantations this is often controlled by regular pruning of the tree.  The flowers remain for a few days and than vanish leaving behind the dark green, thick, waxy leaves.  At this point the berries, often referred to as drupes, begin to appear.  Upon first appearance these berries are dark green, much like the leaves themselves but than upon ripening they change color from green, to yellow and than light red, finally reaching a glossy, deep red state.  Upon reaching this level of development, they are referred to as “cherries” and are ready for picking.


            The “cherries” are about 1 cm long and are oblong.  Closely cultivated trees will produce anywhere from 0.5-5 kg of dried beans climate permitting.  The berries are edible and very sweet to the taste, much resembling a grape.  Each berry contains two locules containing the beans, which are actually two seeds within the berry.  Mainly the berry is picked by hand but often shaken from the tree onto a mat for easier harvest.


            The human cultivation of coffee had begun after goats in Ethiopia were seen becoming frisky upon consumption of the leaves and fruit produced by the tree.  However, consumption of these fruits by humans most likely took place long before this was witnessed.  Some Ethiopian locals still consume a beverage made from the leaves of the plant much like a tea.  The Arab invention of making a brew from the roasted beans comes from Arabian scholars who recorded that it was useful in prolonging their work hours.  This invention spread first from the Egyptians to the Turks and later traveled worldwide.


              I have picked Coffea Arabica as my study topic because being an avid coffee drinker and self-proclaimed connoisseur of the beverage, I have a deep interest to learn more about where it comes from and how it is harvested.  I also wondered which species of coffee was the most popular between other coffee drinkers and Coffea Arabica  is the worldwide leading species of coffee grown and harvested.

Drawing of Coffea arabica                        Coffea arabica flowers - Brazil

                Drawing of Coffea Arabica                                        Coffea Arabica Flowers

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffea_arabica        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffea_arabica























Environment of Coffea Arabica


            Coffea Arabica, more commonly known as Arabica coffee, is accountable for 75-80% of the worlds coffee consumption (Coffee Research Institute).  However there are several different brands of coffee made with Coffea Arabica according to its region of production.  Such coffees include Kona roast, Columbian roast, French roast, and Ethiopia Sidamo.  Coffea Arabica was actually indigenous not to Arabia, but to Yemen and Ethiopia as an understory tree common in most tropical moist broadleaf forests of that region.  Coffee is a major industry in Ethiopia and brings in 420 million dollars annually, accounting for 69% of their foreign trade.  It was introduced to Arabia sometime before the 15th century, and was first planted in Java (another popular term for coffee) in 1690.  It was carried to Jamaica, Martinique and Surinam in the early 18th century and soon following this, cultivation had spread to parts of South America where the climate was suitable for production.  Coffea Arabica then spread across Europe and the Middle East and was taken to the Philippines from Amsterdam in 1740 and reached Hawaii in 1825.  Catholic missionaries had taken it to Tanzania and Kenya at the end of the 19th century.


            What makes Coffea Arabica common in countries all around the world is its plasticity to several different environments.  This is also the cause of different brands of coffee in the same species.  Coffea Arabica thrives in a moderately humid environment.  The quality of soil must be deep and friable for best production and is unsuitable in stiff clay or sandy soil.  A Savannah soil of moderate acidity yields best production but is also able to be grown in neutral soil and even in soil with a slight alkalinity.  Soil rich in organic matter and the nutrient potash is also required for premium coffee production.  Annual rainfall required for growth could range anywhere from 1500 to 3000 millimeters with a mean annual temperature ranging from 15-25 degrees Celsius.  Coffea Arabica is native to Ethiopia and Mozambique, but is considered an exotic plant in over 23 countries, some of which include Angola, Rwanda, Uganda, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, and the United States, most of these countries fall into the range of 40 degrees north latitude to 40 degrees south latitude and normally grows between 1300-3000 m altitude or higher.


            Although well kept and closely monitored in production for industrial cultivation, there are still several diseases that affect Coffea Arabica in the wild.  Such fungi as Colletotrichum Coffeanum are the main predator of all Coffea species.  First discovered in Kenya in 1940, this particular species of Coffeanum affects the pre-mature green berries, causing scabs and spots in early stages of development. Many nematodes have been found with Arabica coffee trees, including Achromadora longiseta, Aphelenchoides parietinus, and Aphelenchus coffeae.  Witch’s Broom is also a common disease found on Coffea Arabica.   A dense mass of shoots grow from a single point, with the resulting structure resembling a broom or a bird's nest.  Witch's broom growth may last several years and can be caused by many different types of organisms, such as a fungi or insects such as the nematode.  In commercial production several types of remedies are used to rid the plants of disease and pests such as pesticides and organic remedies although, human activity is sometimes the reason for the introduction of these organisms; for example, when a person prunes a tree improperly they may be leaving the tree susceptible to disease.  Pruning is common in commercial harvest to try and control rate of growth so as to expose the plant to an atmosphere where production is ideal.


          Although what use is coffee production without a means to sell it?  Seattle, Washington is commonly known as the coffee capital of the United States being the birthplace to the first of a multinational chain of stores known as Starbucks Coffee.  Currently the Starbucks Coffee Corporation is the world’s largest coffee house with over 15,000 stores in over 50 countries.  Aside from being sold as a beverage, coffee has also been used in Ethiopia as a masticatory since ancient times.  It is also widely used as a flavor in ice cream, liqueurs, pastries and as a fragrance in candles.  Thee wood of the plant is also hard, durable, and takes a polish well and is often used for furniture.  Coffee when mixed with iodine is even used as a deodorant in some parts of the world











Mark G. Wright, Colletotrichum Coffeanum  C1991 http://www.extento.hawaii.edu/kbase/crop/Type/c_coffe.htm


Wikipedia c2008 Starbucks Coffee available fromhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starbucks_Coffee


ICRAF Coffea Arabica C2006 http://www.worldagroforestry.org/sea/products/AFDbases/AF/asp/SpeciesInfo.asp?SpID=547


















Mes Margaretha G. 1957 Studies on the Flowering of Coffea Arabica IBEC research institute (NY, NY)


Wikipedia c2008.  Coffea Arabica available from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffea_arabica


Coffee Research Institute c2006 Arabica and Robusta Coffee Plant available fromhttp://www.coffeeresearch.org/agriculture/coffeeplant.htm











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