Coffee beans are seeds from Coffea plants and are the source for making coffee to drink. These beans are the pit inside the purple or red fruit described as a cherry. Just like common cherries, coffee fruit or beans are also called “stone fruit”.
Two used most
Coffee beans come from coffee trees or plants that are tropical evergreen type shrubs growing between the Tropics Capricorn and Cancer. The 2 most commercially feasible species grown are:
- Coffea arabica – Arabicas
- Coffea canephora – Robustas
Average Arabica plants are large bushes with oval dark-green leaves. The cherries or fruits are round and are fully grown in up to nine months. Normally they contain two flat seeds which are the coffee beans. When only one bean grows it is referred to as a “peaberry”.
The Robusta plant is a shrub that is robust or a tree that is small growing up to 33 feet high. This fruit is rounded and takes about eleven months to fully grow. The seeds are oval-shaped and smaller than the seeds from the Arabica plants.
Ideal growing temperatures average from 15 to 25 degree C for Arabica coffee and 25 to 30 degree C for Robusta, but Robusta can flourish in hotter and harsher conditions. Coffee plants need an annual rainfall of up to 3000 mm, with Arabica needing far less than other varieties. Robusta can grow between sea-level and 2600 feet, while Arabica grows the best at altitudes that are higher often grown well in hilly areas.
Since coffee is often grown in areas that are mountainous, using automatic harvesters is not viable and the ripe coffee beans normally need to be handpicked. The major exception to this is in Brazil, where the flat landscape and large size of the coffee fields allow for some machinery use.