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Interesting Facts About the Coffee Plant - Beginning of Coffee

Updated on April 1, 2020
Vellur profile image

A graduate in botany, Nithya Venkat enjoys writing about plants that help sustain life on planet Earth.

Coffee Plant (Coffea arabica)
Coffee Plant (Coffea arabica) | Source

The coffee plant is native to Ethiopia and can be found growing in parts of Asia and Africa. The coffee plant is evergreen belonging to the genus "Coffea" and family "Rubiaceae."

Coffee is a beverage that is obtained from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant. Coffee cultivation began in the Arabian Peninsula and spread across the world. The word "coffee" comes from the Arabic word for "wine."

The two popular types of coffee are "arabica" and "robusta." Latin America, eastern Africa, Asia, and Arabia are the leading producers of arabica coffee, and Western Central Africa, Southeast Asia, and Brazil are major producers of robusta coffee. Today coffee is the second most important trading commodity after oil.

Discovery of Coffee

A goat herder discovered coffee in Ethiopia in 850 AD. He observed that the goats had a lot of energy and did not sleep at night after eating the coffee fruits. He went to the local monks with his observations; the monks made a brew with the coffee beans and drank it.

After drinking the brew, the monks realized that they had more energy and could stay up all night and pray. The monks spread the word to other Ethiopian monks, and soon it spread across the world. The beverage reached Italy, and the first European coffee house was opened in 1645.

Flowers of the Coffee Plant
Flowers of the Coffee Plant | Source
Coffea arabica with unripe fruits
Coffea arabica with unripe fruits | Source

Description of the Coffee Plant (Coffea arabica)

Coffea arabica is an evergreen shrub or a small tree that can grow up to five meters when left unpruned. The leaves are simple arranged in an alternate and opposite pattern on the branches. They are glabrous, dark green with a shiny surface.

The flowers grow in clusters at the axil of leaves. The flowers are star-shaped, white with a sweet scent.

The fruit is described as a drupe or a berry that is surrounded by a pericarp. The immature berries are dull green and turn yellow to bright red during ripening.

Each berry has two seeds that are ellipsoidal and pressed together by a flat surface that is deeply grooved with an outer convex surface. Self-pollination and pollination by honeybees occur. Dispersal of seeds is by birds and mammals.

Coffea arabica flourishes in regions with relatively cold climates. The optimum temperature for the best growth is between 15-24 degrees centigrade throughout the year, with rainfall of 1500-2500 mm over nine months.

Ripe Coffee Berries
Ripe Coffee Berries | Source

Coffee Fruit

The coffee fruit (coffee berry) is made of two main parts – the pericarp (outer covering) and the seed. The seed is also referred to as the bean. The pericarp is made of three layers - the exocarp, endocarp, and mesocarp.

Exocarp - The exocarp is the outermost layer of the coffee fruit. It is formed by a single layer of parenchyma cells.

Initially, the coffee berry is green; this is because the exocarp is green due to the presence of chloroplasts that disappear as the fruit matures. The color of the ripe coffee fruit is mostly red or yellow, depending upon the coffee variety. The coffee berry is also referred to as cherry because of its bright red color.

Mesocarp - The mesocarp is the fleshy middle layer of the coffee fruit. In an unripe coffee fruit, the mesocarp is rigid. It softens as the fruit matures. The mesocarp is rich in water, sugar, and pectins.

Endocarp - The endocarp is the innermost layer of the pericarp. The pericarp is the hull that envelops the coffee bean. It is formed of three to seven layers of fibrous sclerenchyma cells. The endocarp hardens as the fruit matures.

Coffee berries with a single bean in the center are called peaberries. Peaberries are considered to be sweeter and more flavorful than the standard coffee beans.

Anatomy of the Coffee Fruit (Berry)
Anatomy of the Coffee Fruit (Berry) | Source
Transverse and Longitudinal Sections of the Coffee Berry
Transverse and Longitudinal Sections of the Coffee Berry | Source

Coffee Seed

The coffee seed is also referred to as the coffee bean. It is made of silver skin, endosperm, and an embryo.

The silver skin is also called the perisperm or the spermoderm. The endosperm is the food reserve of the seed. The chemical content of the endosperm is vital because it is responsible for the flavor and aroma of the roasted coffee. The endosperm consists of large amounts of caffeine.

The embryo is composed of a hypocotyl and two cotyledons. Coffee seeds germinate by epigeal germination. In this type of germination, the hypocotyl elongates and pushes the seed upward above the ground. The original cotyledons stay underground.

Roasted Coffee Beans
Roasted Coffee Beans | Source

Harvesting the Coffee Bean

Coffee beans are harvested by hand or through a mechanized process to produce green beans. The green coffee beans are transported to coffee manufacturing companies where these beans are roasted, graded, packaged and transported to retail outlets.

Arabica and robusta are the two main varieties of coffee. The robusta variety has a strong, harsh taste with high amounts of caffeine.

The arabica beans are high-quality beans that have more flavor and half the amount of caffeine when compared to the robusta variety.

Kopi Luwak - World's Most Expensive Coffee

The world’s most expensive coffee is known as kopi luwak or cat poop coffee. Kopi Luwak is produced from coffee beans that have passed through the digestive system of an animal called the Asian Palm Civet. (The civet is a raccoon-like nocturnal mammal native to the forests of Asia.)

The civet consumes the coffee beans fallen on the ground. Farmers collect feces of the civet and wash them thoroughly to obtain clean coffee beans. During the digestion period, the coffee beans remain intact in the intestine of the civet and undergo a unique fermentation process that gives the kopi luwak its unique flavor.

Skin Care with Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds help to exfoliate the skin and get rid of dead skin cells revealing a new layer of skin cells. Caffeic acid present in coffee beans is an antioxidant that helps to boost collagen levels and reduce premature aging of the skin.

Coffee helps to get rid of puffy eyes. Caffeine stimulates the blood flow and dilates the blood vessels. This helps to tighten the skin around the eyes and get rid of fluid buildup beneath the eyes.

Coffee grounds can be harsh on sensitive skin and skin affected by acne.

Health Benefits of Coffee

Coffee helps to improve energy levels by blocking an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain that causes a stimulating effect that helps to improve energy levels, mood, and brain function.

Caffeine can boost metabolic rate by 3% - 12% and this, in turn, helps to burn fat. It can be found in many fat-burning supplements.

Coffee helps to increase physical performance. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system causing the fat cells to break down and form fatty acids that are used to fuel the body and improve physical performance.

Coffee has essential nutrients such as riboflavin (vitamin B2), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), manganese, potassium, and niacin (vitamin B3).

Coffee is enjoyed by people across the world. Drinking three to five cups of coffee per day is considered to be a part of a healthy diet. Exceeding the limit of the recommended 400 mg caffeine per day for adults can cause irritability, nervousness, and insomnia.

References

Coffee Plant Characteristics

History of Coffee

Red Cherry to Green Bean

Coffea Arabica

Health Benefits of Coffee

© 2020 Nithya Venkat

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    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      5 weeks ago from Dubai

      Thank you, Rajan for your visit and comments.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      6 weeks ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Reading this was like reading my botany textbook again. Never knew coffee had these nutrients. Thanks for sharing.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      8 weeks ago from Dubai

      Thank you Dora. The coffee flowers are beautiful and the aroma of coffee is divine.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      8 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      Interesting information about the coffee plant, from its discovery to its uses and nutritional ingredients. Never thought that such beautiful flowers and even the colorful ripe fruit was associated with coffee.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      8 weeks ago from Dubai

      Thank you Eric, I am happy you enjoyed.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      8 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Whahoo, this is great. I loved learning the anatomy the best or maybe about the goats. Sounds right to me.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      8 weeks ago from Dubai

      I love coffee too, the best coffee is always homemade. Here there is a great South Indian restaurant called Sangeetha. They make the best filter coffee. Thank you for your visit Ann.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      2 months ago from SW England

      Interesting that it comes from a word meaning 'wine'. I love coffee and I drink it black. It's difficult to get a decent black coffee in restaurants though!

      I have come across some of the health benefits before. It's also good for plants, it seems! Just a little sprinkled around the roots to add nutrients.

      Ann

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      2 months ago from Dubai

      Thank you, Devika. Twice a day is a great way to enjoy coffee.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      2 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      This is an interesting hub and you covered all aspects on a unique title. A well-researched and informative hub.I drink coffee twice a day.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      2 months ago from Dubai

      Thank youMG Singh.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      2 months ago from Dubai

      Visiting the coffee plantation must have been a great experience. Thank you for your visit.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      2 months ago from Dubai

      Thank you Lorna, I will not try out that coffee too. It is way too gross.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      2 months ago from Dubai

      It is gross! Coffee has health benefits-more reason to drink coffee.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      2 months ago from Dubai

      Thank you manatita44, It must have been great to take part in the coffee ceremonies. Poems on coffee, chocolate and ice cream-that is awesome!!

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      2 months ago from Dubai

      Thank you Louise Powles.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      2 months ago from Dubai

      Thank you Bill. I am fine and I hope you and your family are safe and healthy too.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      2 months ago from Dubai

      Thank you Chitrangada, my family loves coffee. The aroma of coffee is so uplifting and the taste is way out of this world!

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      2 months ago from Dubai

      Jeanette Harris thank you for your visit and I hope you can start drinking coffee again.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      2 months ago from Dubai

      I love coffee Ruby, it has many health benefits and tastes great. A hot cup of coffee is a great way to start the day.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      2 months ago from Dubai

      Thank you, Uma.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      2 months ago from Southern Illinois

      I have never read the history concerning coffee before. I am a coffee drinker and after reading all the health benefits, will continue, perhaps even more than before. The coffee plant is beautiful to look at. It's a shame we can't grow it here. Thank you for sharing this most interesting article.

    • profile image

      Jeanette Harris 

      2 months ago from 11996 Valley Falls Loop Spring Hill Florida, 34609

      I use to drink coffee, I miss it oh thanks for the article how it grows and thanks for the video, If it weren't for a cough I would coffee. So Thanks again

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      2 months ago from New Delhi, India

      A very well written, comprehensive and informative article.

      Coffee is my family’s favourite. Didn’t know so many details about this wonderful beverage. Thanks for the education.

      The pictures are beautiful and helpful. Thanks for sharing.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I write for a coffee company, so I actually know quite a bit about the plant itself. Still you managed to add some knowledge to my reservoir. :) I hope this finds you safe and healthy!

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 

      2 months ago from Norfolk, England

      As you probably know, I do like my coffee! And this is very interesting information about coffee!

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      2 months ago from london

      What a beautiful Hub! The moment I saw the word 'coffee' it put a smile on my face. Welcome change! You actually did it quite well and I commend you for this article on coffee.

      I have had lots of coffee Arabica and when I feel the mystical is too much, I write poems on coffee and chocolates. Ha ha. Even ice cream!

      I have been to Ethiopia 6 times! The Sri Chinmoy International does a lot of humanitarian as well as spiritual work abroad. The people are wonderful and their coffee ceremonies are amazing in most parts.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      2 months ago from USA

      I just can’t imagine how they thought of cat poop coffee. How horrid. I wonder if they get hair balls? I never thought of coffee as actually having nutrients. Good to know. I have never been a coffee drinker.

    • Lorna Lamon profile image

      Lorna Lamon 

      2 months ago

      Such a fascinating article about my favourite drink. The history is really interesting and I wasn't aware that coffee was discovered by a goat herder. Not too sure if I would try the most expensive form, although reading about it made me smile. A great article Nithya.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      2 months ago from UK

      Thank you for such an interesting and informative article. I first learnt about arabica and robusta when I visited a coffee plantation nearly two years ago. It was very interesting.

    • emge profile image

      MG Singh 

      2 months ago from Singapore

      It's a fine article both informative and interesting.

    • Nicoartz profile image

      Jason Nicolosi 

      2 months ago from AZ

      Super interesting and informative article about coffee. I never knew that the word "coffee" came from the Arabic word for "wine". Very cool. Plus, who know monks were so hip? Drinking coffee to stay up all night to pray. That's so awesome. I love most coffees, but no kopi luwak coffee for me thanks. I'll stick with the cheap stuff. Lol. Stay safe and healthy.

    • profile image

      Uma 

      2 months ago

      A thoroughly interesting and enlightening write up!!

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