Native to some territories of Ethiopia, the coffee plant belongs to the Rubiaceae family and is an evergreen shrub with a straight trunk, genus Coffea, of which there are over one hundred different species.
The most widespread and cultivated are Arabica and Robusta.
It is grown in the equatorial tropic band in the presence of an alternating humid - dry climate, not subject to cold or frost, with an average temperature between 15° and 30° C.
Sowing takes place in special seedlings where germination begins.
After approximately 6-8 weeks, the seedlings are transplanted into the nurseries and after about a year they are planted.
3-5 years after transplanting , the plant will begin to produce its first harvest.
Depending on the variety and species coffee plants can reach 8-12 meters in height, if left to grow naturally. Usually, however, the height of the plant is normally maintained between 2-3.5 meters to facilitate the harvesting of the fruits.
A plant produces on average from 500 g to 1.5 kg of raw coffee, depending on the type of cultivation.
The coffee plant can live up to a hundred years, but reaches its peak productivity between 7 and 20 years. However, with appropriate care, it is possible to maintain or even increase its yield over the years.
The leaves grow in pairs, are shiny and have an oval shape with a sharp tip. Furthermore, they have white flowers with both female and male organs.
The flowering occurs 1-2 times a year and is linked to the rainy season.
The flowers have a white color and give off an intense perfume, comparable to that of jasmine.
The fruits or drupes (commonly called cherries) ripen 7-9 months after flowering and both unripe and ripe fruits can be found on the branches of the same plant. They grow along the branches of the plant and as they mature, they can take on different colours: initially green, then yellow/brown and finally red or intense yellow (depending on the variety).
From 4-5 kg of coffee cherries, on average 1 kg of green coffee is obtained.
The coffee bean
The coffee bean is the seed of the fruit (drupe).
The outer peel is called exocarp, while the pulp is called mesocarp. Under the pulp, there are usually two seeds, flat with a vertical groove and convex on one side, each covered by the parchment or endocarp and by a thin layer of pectin that surrounds it. The last layer that covers the grain is the silvery film called epidermis.
Sometimes the drupe can contain a single grain which is called caracolito or perla.
The green grains, to be roasted, must be removed from the fruit and the coverings that envelop it, through specific processes.