Would you believe me if I told you there were over 40 varieties of the coffee plant (some say up to 100)?
Arabica is by far the king-pin, making up about 75% of the world’s production.
Coffea belongs to the Rubiaceae family of plants, also including West Indian Jasmine and Quinine (think Malaria Medicine). For those who didn’t know by now, coffee beans are the seeds of the coffea plant.
A few interesting facts about coffea Arabica:
- Wild plants grow between 9 & 12 meters tall
- The flowers are white and have an aroma similar to jasmine
- Arabica contains half the caffeine content of coffea Canephora (Robusta)
- The fruit is a cherry, turning deep red to purple when ripe
- Coffee cherries typically contain 2 beans
- PeaBerry coffee is when the cherry contains 1 bean, round & resembling a pea
- The bean is surrounded by 4 layers prior to processing and roasting, being the outer skin, fleshy pulp, parchment and silverskin
- The coffee plant takes 7 years to mature
- It needs about 1-1.5 meters of rain a year, & a temperature of between 15 and 24 degrees Celsius
- It can yield between 0.5 – 5kg of cherry, depending on the tree’s character and the climate
Under the coffea Arabica variety there are up to 40 different cultivars (sub-varietals). We will cover the intricacies of sensory evaluation and cupping in a different post, but it is worth mentioning that the characteristics that make up the full sensory experience of coffee are flavor, caffeine content, body (mouthfeel), acidity and sweetness. These characteristics vary greatly between growing regions and also amongst the various cultivars.
Some of the cultivars that we have at Legado are Catuai, Pacas, Mundo Novo, Typica (one of the oldest cultivars, originating in Yemen), Bourbon, Red Caturra, Caturra, SL28 & SL34.
One last fact to blow your minds…
Where wine has around 200 flavour and aromatic compounds, coffee has up to 1500! This is one of the main reasons why we love this festive drink and why we are excited about coffee education and appreciation.