The COFFEE TREE, a.k.a. “coffea”, is an evergreen shrub or small tree. It lives from 20 to 40 years and grows best in constant mild temperatures, with rain and sunshine (around the Equator). What is peculiar is that the best seeds are produced in places that are inconsistent with the typical environment of a coffee plant, like for example in volcanic soil, which creates favorable coffee growing conditions. The plant can reach as high as 8 meters in height, but it is usually cropped to a 1.2 – 1.5 m. It grows fruits after 4-5 years. The FRUIT takes about 9-11 months to ripen. The coffee BEAN is the core of a fruit that looks like a cherry.
There are at least 25 different species of coffee trees, but the best known ones are these that produce ARABICA coffee and those that produce ROBUSTA. The daily global production of both species amounts to 7 million tones, 70% of which is ARABICA and the rest 30% ROBUSTA.
It grows best on steep mountain slopes and needs heavy rain and shadow. It is the only coffee that can be drunk without being mixed with other varieties. It is aromatic and of top quality.
It needs a warmer climate and a relatively constant temperature. It is less susceptible to pests and disease; it can grow on a lower altitude and survive with much less rain. Its fruit does not have such a strong taste; it is cheaper in the market and richer in caffeine. It is suitable for blending and for the production of instant coffee.
From the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator to the Tropic of Capricorn, across the globe, the climate and the soil are ideal for the cultivation of coffee. Coffees with a full body and a great variety in taste and aroma, from mild and smooth to strong and exotic ones grow in East Africa and Arabia. The ARABICA variety is cultivated in Central America. Aromatic varieties of coffee, mellow in flavor and ideal for the morning awaking are cultivated in Brazil, the biggest producer of coffee in the world, in Jamaica, where the most popular coffee (Blue Mountain) is produced and Hawaii. Finally, some varieties with more exotic flavors are cultivated in Asia and the islands of the Pacific Ocean. They have a full, smooth character, a rich flavor and raciness.