Have you ever paused to ponder the origins of your invigorating cup of coffee? Ever wondered about the journey of the coffee beans that give your brew its delightful taste? Let’s embark on an enlightening journey into the world of coffee, tracing its path from the verdant plantations to the steaming cup in your hand.
The Perfect Coffee Conditions
The “Coffee Belt” refers to the area around the equator where coffee plants thrive. This region, which includes parts of North, Central, and South America; the Caribbean; Africa; the Middle East; and Asia, provides the ideal conditions for coffee cultivation. Moderate temperatures and regular rainfall patterns in these areas create an environment conducive to growing coffee.
However, these ecosystems are delicate and vulnerable to changes in climate. Climate change poses a significant threat to coffee cultivation as it can lead to altered rainfall patterns and increased temperatures. These changes can stress coffee plants and negatively impact their growth and development.
For instance, water stress, increased temperatures, and elevated levels of carbon dioxide, all associated with climate change, can reduce the quality of coffee. In fact, by 2050, the number of regions most highly suited for growing coffee is expected to decline by 50 percent due to increasing annual temperatures in coffee-producing countries like Brazil, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Colombia.
Arabica vs. Robusta
Arabica and Robusta are the two primary species of coffee trees, each with unique characteristics that contribute to the diverse world of coffee flavours.
Arabica (Coffea arabica) is known for its delicate flavour and is believed to be the first species of coffee to have been cultivated.
- It’s a small tree that grows between 2m and 8m tall and has evergreen, usually shiny leaves.
- The flowers are white and sweetly scented, and the fruits are red, but sometimes yellow or purple.
- Each fruit produces two green seeds, which are commonly known as coffee beans. After roasting, the seeds turn brown.
- It represents about 60% of global coffee production. The natural populations of Coffea arabica are restricted to the forests of South Ethiopia and Yemen.
Robusta (Coffea canephora), on the other hand, is cherished for its strong taste and resilience.
- It is produced by the Coffea canephora plant, which was originally grown in the western and central portions of sub-Saharan Africa.
- About 40% of the world’s coffee consumed each day is Coffee Robusta.
- It is resilient against disease and pests, enjoys hot temperatures, and can even handle full sunshine. The only thing it asks for in return is a lot of water. With Robusta, a hydrated coffee plant is a happy one.
In terms of taste, Arabica coffee is often described as having a smoother, more complex flavour profile, with notes of sugar, fruit, and berries. Its acidity is higher, with that winey taste that characterises coffee with excellent acidity.
Robusta, however, has a stronger, harsher taste, with a grain-like overtone and peanutty aftertaste. The Robusta bean itself tends to be somewhat rounder and smaller than an Arabica bean. The Robusta plant is more resistant to diseases and pests, which makes it easier and cheaper to cultivate.
Nurturing the Future Brew
The journey of coffee from seedling to brew is a fascinating process that requires patience, care, and a deep understanding of the coffee plant’s needs.
The process begins with a tiny seedling, usually of the Coffea arabica or Coffea canephora (Robusta) variety. These seedlings are often nurtured in nurseries, where they are provided with the ideal conditions to grow. This includes maintaining a consistent temperature range between 15°C and 25°C, which is crucial for the healthy growth of the coffee plant.
During this initial stage, the seedlings require careful attention and regular watering. The goal is to help them grow until they reach about 40 cm in height. At this point, they are usually strong enough to be transplanted to a larger growing area.
However, even after reaching this height, the coffee plant’s journey is far from over. It usually takes about 3-4 years for a coffee plant to start producing fruits, also known as cherries. This is especially true for Coffee Arabica, which is known for its slower growth rate compared to other varieties.
Once the coffee plant starts producing cherries, each cherry typically contains two seeds – these are the coffee beans that we are familiar with. The beans are then harvested, processed, and eventually roasted to produce the final product that we enjoy as coffee.
This entire process, from nurturing a tiny seedling to enjoying a delightful brew, is indeed a labour of love. It requires patience and dedication but results in a beverage that is enjoyed by millions of people worldwide.
Sip, Savour, and Explore
As you savour your next cup of coffee, remember the incredible journey it has taken from a tiny seedling to the aromatic brew in your cup. We invite you to delve deeper into the rich history and culture of coffee.
Explore its diverse flavours and learn about its fascinating cultivation process. Remember, every sip connects you to a global journey that begins in a humble coffee plantation.
If you’re interested in experiencing this journey firsthand, why not try Kerchanshe’s coffee? Their commitment to quality and sustainability ensures that every cup is a testament to the incredible journey of coffee.