What is coffee?

Exactly what is coffee?

Most people around the world know the black, aromatic drink simply by the name of coffee. However, fewer people know about the raw material from which the drink is made: the coffee bean, which is also known as green gold.

Coffee is the seed of a fruit (drupe) that is normally divided into two parts, though sometimes is single (caracolito).

Coffee beans grow on an evergreen bush belonging to the Rubiacee family, Coffea genus, of which there are approximately 80 species known throughout the world.

The different coffee plant species

There are two main species:

  • Coffea Arabica
  • Coffea Canephora (otherwise known as Robusta)

Coffea Arabica has these characteristics:

  • It is the most widespread Coffea type
  • It is more aromatic than Robusta
  • It is more delicate than Robusta
  • It is less bitter than Robusta
  • It is rather less astringent than Robusta
  • It has a caffeine content of between 0.8 and 1.5%
  • It has an 18% oil content
  • It has an 8% sugar content

And Coffea Robusta has these characteristics:

  • Greater resistance
  • Rather more bitter
  • Has more body
  • Has a caffeine content of between 1.7 and 3.5%
  • Has an 8-9% oil content
  • Has an 5% sugar content

Growing Coffee: Climatic zones

The coffee plant requires a well-defined climate, which is characterised by relatively high temperatures and alternating sunshine and rain. Such climatic conditions are found in all tropical zones – hence why coffee is so inextricably linked to the health of tropical rainforest. Another requirement is the right altitude: from 1000 to 2000 metres for Arabica, and 200 to 300 metres for Robusta.

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