coffee cherries






Coffee Plant Agriculture

Coffee plants belong to the botanical genus Coffea in the family Rubiaceae, which has 500 genera and over 6,000 species.  Although there is some disagreement, the number of species belonging to Coffea ranges from 25 to 100.  Most commercial green coffee is either the C. arabica or C. canephora species, which is referred to commercially as Arabica and Robusta, respectively.  Coffea arabica is an allotetraploid inbreeder (2n = 44).  Forty to fifty cultivars (infraspecific taxa) are known, and are suspected to be derived from two cultivars of C. arabica being var. arabica (including var. typica) and var. bourbon.

Arabica Coffee

Arabica coffee is grown at altitudes over 2,000 (usually 4,000-6,000) feet above sea level and is typically harvested by hand when the cherries are perfectly ripe.  Robusta has continued its share in the market due to its disease resistance and ability to grow below 2,000 feet.  Robusta beans are inferior to Arabica beans in flavor, and they are often used in inexpensive instant coffee blends.  Robusta coffee has almost twice the caffeine of Arabica coffee.  Italians often will use a very small amount of Robusta coffee to increase crema and to tone down the acidity of the Arabica coffees.

A coffee cherry consist of four layers which are removed sequentially. The coffee bean is the seed of the coffee cherry and is covered with silverskin, parchment, pulp, and then an outer skin layer. The method of removal of these layers dramatically alters the flavor. 

Main Articles:

Coffee Plant

Coffee Harvesting

Coffee Processing





© 2001-2006. Coffee Research Institute. All Rights Reserved.