Member of rubiaceae family, the coffee tree has a cyclical life not exceeding 50 years. From the sowing it takes 4 years before the first harvest can be obtained, from the tenth to the twentieth year the production of fruits reaches the peak and then gradually declines until it falls arounbd forty years, depending on the type of manipulation suffered.
It can grow up to 15m but to facilitate its harvesting the trees are pruned at an height of 2 or 3 m. The elongated oval-shaped dark green leaves look like laurel ones. The small and white flowers clustered in bunches emanate an intense perfume similar to jasmine. The fruit, also called drupa, similar to a berry, contains two seeds or “coffee beans”. This plant presents 125 different species, but only 25 give a fruit quality that can be used in the market.
Among these 25, two are widely used for the production of various blends, and specifically:
Arabica grows between 800 and 2,000 m of altitude, has a green, flat, elongated seed. Arabica produces sweet, scented flavor and intense aroma. The caffeine content is between 0.8% and 1.5% and Arabica coffee represents three quarters of world coffee production. Typica, Bourbon, Caturra, Castillo, Catimor, Pacas, Pacamara, SL28, SL 34, Gesha and Maragogype are the most common varieties.
The diffusion of Arabica coffee started between 6th and 13th centuries when from Ethiopia arrived to Yemen. Around 1680 the Dutch began to cultivate it in Ceylon, while in 1715 the French exported to Bourbon. The global diffusion took place between 19th and 20th centuries.
Robusta grows between 200 and 900 m of altitude, and shows a brown round shaped bean.
Robusta coffee gives to blends personality and strong taste, astringency, bitterness and light aroma. Caffeine content is higher than Arabica, from 1.7% to 3.5%: this species are characterized by abundant grain production and represent a quarter of world production. Discovered in Congo, it is easily cultivated thanks to its adaptability to disadvantaged environmental conditions and disease resistance.
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