Where do coffee beans come from?

Coffee beans come from the coffee plant, a shrub-like plant that can grow to very tall (coffee growers usually keep them trimmed to about 5 feet to keep them manageable). In these coffee plants, clusters of cherries grow and inside them you will find two coffee beans. A coffee bean is a seed of the Coffea plant and the source of coffee. It is the nugget inside the red or purple fruit, often known as cherry.

Like ordinary cherries, coffee fruit is also a stone fruit. Although coffee beans are not technically beans, they are known as such because of their resemblance to real beans. Fruits, cherries or berries, most commonly contain two stones with their flat sides together. A small percentage of cherries contain only one seed, instead of the usual two seeds.

Peas are produced only 10-15% of the time, and it is a fairly common (though scientifically unproven) belief that they taste more than regular coffee beans. Like Brazil nuts (a seed) and white rice, coffee beans consist mainly of endosperm. Coffee plants grow within a defined area between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, called the bean belt or coffee belt. Coffee plants are often grown in rows a few meters apart (depending on the desired density chosen by the farmer).

Some farmers plant other trees, such as shade trees or other commercially grown trees, such as orange trees around them, or plant coffee on the slopes of the hills, because they need specific conditions to flower. Ideally, Arabica coffee beans are grown at temperatures between 15 and 24°C (59 and 75°F) and Robusta at 24 to 30°C (75 to 86°F) and receive between 150 and 300 cm (59 and 118 inches) of rain per year. Heavy rains are needed at the beginning of the season, when the fruit is developing and less late in the season as it ripens. Properly grown and cared for, a coffee plant bears fruit after three to five years and can continue to produce for an average of 50 to 60 years.

Coffee grown all over the world can trace its heritage for centuries to the ancient coffee forests on the Ethiopian plateau. There, legend says, the goat herder Kaldi first discovered the potential of these beloved Jews. In the literal sense, coffee beans come from coffee plants. In a geographical sense, evidence suggests that the first species of coffee was discovered in Ethiopia by a goat farmer (Kaldi) and his hyperactive goats.

The first arabica coffee bean plant was discovered in Ethiopia, which is where half of the world's coffee production comes from. If you have knowledge of the coffee market, you will be familiar with how many different regions, and their coffee species, can form a specialized blend of coffee. If you are wondering what a coffee plant looks like, the closest comparison is a berry bush or a vine. However, in places like Brazil, where the landscape is relatively flat and the coffee fields immense, the process has been mechanized.

Thank God, in recent years many farmers have become aware of the harmful effects of this “mass production method” and have begun to retreat towards more traditional shade-grown beans. You can find out more about the vast world of the Arabica plant with this FANTASTIC interactive map (from World Coffee Research. Although coffee shops began to appear quickly, tea remained the favorite drink in the New World until 1773, when settlers rebelled against a heavy tea tax imposed by King George III. By the mid-17th century, there were more than 300 cafes in London, many of which attracted like-minded customers, including merchants, carriers, brokers and artists.

Today, Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia and Ethiopia remain the top 5 world leaders when it comes to growing and producing coffee. Coffee was taken from Africa and planted first in the Middle East, then in Southeast Asia, and then spread to other parts of the world. Other proteins include enzymes, such as catalase and polyphenol oxidase, which are important for the ripening of green coffee beans. The main exception is Brazil, where the relatively flat landscape and the immense size of the coffee fields allow the use of machinery.

The countries closest to the “coffee bean belt” produce the most coffee because their environment has all the ideal growing conditions for it. Once the berries, also known as cascara or coffee cherries, acquire a ripe red color, they are harvested. You can see that the coffee species and the care that a farmer takes in the harvest, processing and drying of coffee are very important for the tastes of the cup. The oldest way to get that seed out of the fruit is to simply let the coffee cherries dry around the seeds and then peel the fruit.

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