Bean Types & What You Need to Know:


Cultivation of the coffee bean originated in Ethiopia, in approximately 850 A.D. Farming of the coffee plant then spread to Arabia, where it was first mentioned in writing around 900 A.D. The Arabians guarded it carefully, but some plants were eventually smuggled out to the Dutch, who kept a few plants for gardens in the Netherlands.
The Americas were first introduced to the plants around 1723. South America is now responsible for over 50% of the world's total coffee production.

First cultivation in Central America (Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, Santa Domingo) - 1715-1730
First cultivation in South America - 1730
First cultivation in Dutch East Indies - 1720
Roasted beans first sold on retail market (Pittsburgh) - 1865
Important spray-drying techniques developed in 1950s


The name "coffee" comes from the name of Ethiopian Region called Kaffa.


Species of coffee plant include
Coffea arabica, Coffea benghalensis, Coffea canephora, Coffea congensis, Coffea excelsa, Coffea gallienii, Coffea bonnieri, Coffea mogeneti, Coffea liberica, and Coffea stenophylla. The seeds of different species produce coffee with slightly different characteristics.

There are two main types of coffee beans:
Coffea Arabica (more commonly referred to as "Arabica ") and Coffea Canephora (Robusta). These two types make up over 90% of coffee beans sold worldwide. Arabica typically produce higher quality coffees, while Robusta are more economically favorable for their heartiness.

Because environmental factors deeply affect the flavor of the beans, they are usually identified not by type but by geographic location.

The Coffee Plant

The coffee tree averages from 15–30 ft. in height. As the tree gets older, it branches less and less and bears more leaves and fruit. The tree typically begins to bear fruit 3–5 years after being planted, and continues to produce from 10-20 more, depending on the type of plant and the area.

Coffee plants are grown in rows several feet apart. Some farmers plant fruit trees around them or plant the coffee on the sides of hills, because they need specific things to flourish. They require a warm climate (but not too hot, either) and at least 70 inches of rainfall year. Heavy rain is needed in the beginning of the season when the fruit is developing, and less late in the season as it ripens. The harvesting period can be anywhere from three weeks to three months, and in some places the harvesting period continues all year round.


When the fruit is ripe, it is almost always hand picked, using either selective picking, where only the ripe fruit is removed or strip-picking, where the entire tree is shaken when most of the fruit has matured. Because a tree can have both ripe and unripe berries at the same time, one area of crop has to be picked several times, making harvesting the most labour intensive process of coffee bean production.

There are two methods of processing the coffee berries. The first method is wet processing, which is usually carried out in Central America and areas of Africa. The flesh of the berries is separated from the seeds and then the beans are fermented - soaked in water for about two days. This dissolves any pulp or sticky residue that may still be attached to the beans. The beans are then washed and dried in the sun, or, in the case of commercial manufacturers, in drying machines.

The dry processing method is cheaper and simpler, used for lower quality beans in Brazil and much of Africa. Twigs and other foreign objects are separated from the berries and the fruit is then spread out in the sun on cement or brick for 2–3 weeks, turned regularly for even drying. The dried pulp is removed from the beans afterward.

After processing has taken place, the husks are removed and the beans are roasted, which gives them their varying brown colour, and they can then be sorted for bagging.

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