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Overview

Brief Summary

The genus Coffea includes over a hundred described species, all of them native to tropical forest regions of Africa, Madagascar, or other western Indian Ocean islands (Davis et al. 2006). These shrubs or small trees grow in the understory of secondary forests and along forest edges, including along streams. The cherry-like fruits attract birds and mammals, which disperse the hard seeds (coffee beans are seeds with the ovary and seed coat removed). Coffee beans that have passed through the digestive tract of an Asian Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) are reportedly less bitter and can command a very high price. The alkaloid caffeine is present in many coffee species, not only in the seeds but also in the fruit pulp, leaves, and other parts. The raw seeds have no special flavor or aroma and discovery of the technology of cleaning, roasting, grinding, and brewing coffee developed outside its native range. Coffee is among the most valuable commodities exported by developing countries (Jaramillo et al. 2006; DeKochko et al. 2010). Around 99% of the world's coffee comes from two species, Coffea arabica (Arabian Coffee) and C. canephora (Robusta Coffee), with the remainder coming from another half dozen species, notably C. liberica, the beans of which are used in cheap blends. (Sauer 1993)

Coffee growers often grow their trees under a simulated forest canopy of taller trees, often legumes such as Albizzia, Inga, and Gliricidia. In some regions, such as in Brazil, C. arabica is frequently grown without shade. Coffee trees grown without shade tend to mature earlier and to produce larger yields, but they also tend to decline at a younger age than do shade-grown trees. (Sauer 1993) Although there is now extensive evidence that agroecosystems based on shade-grown coffee preserve biodiversity significantly more effectively and are more ecologically sustainable than non-shade coffee monocultures, Tejeda-Cruz et al. (2010) discuss the risk that the promotion of shade-grown coffee, which can be sold at a premium price, can encourage growers to convert additional forest to agriculture, resulting in the loss of many forest-associated species that are rare or absent in shade coffee plantations (Tejeda-Cruz et al. 2010 and references therein). This problem illustrates the complex economic factors that must be considered in developing conservation programs.

Virtually all the world's C. arabica plantations are derived from two transfers of a few plants in the early 1700s, one by the Dutch (which provided the progenitor of the typical variety C. arabica var. arabica) and the other by the French (which provided the progenitor of Bourbon coffee, C. arabica var. borbonica). Further genetic bottlenecks occurred as arabica coffee was spread throughout the tropics, with the progeny of a single tree apparently seeding all the arabica plantations in the New World--and, in a strange twist, coffee growing in East Africa was apparently established with stock arriving via the West Indies in the late 19th century. (Sauer 1993)

Coffea arabica grows wild in mountain forests at elevations of 1,500 to 2,000 meters in southern Ethiopia and adjacent Sudan. Wild C. arabica in the Ethiopean highland forests represents an endangered and potentially extremely valuable genetic resource for coffee breeders (Hein and Gatzweiler 2006). DeKochko et al. (2010) review current knowledge of coffee genetics and genomics.

The coffee industry was apparently born in Yemen, which was exporting coffee by the 1500s. By 1700, coffee houses had become important social institutions in cosmopolitan cities throughout Europe as well as in New York and Boston. (Sauer 1993) Decaffeinated coffee has been available since around 1905 (Vaughan and Geissler 1997).

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Comprehensive Description

Description

Shrub or small tree. Leaves opposite, distinctly acuminate with 7-10 pairs of lateral veins; domatia inconspicuous or absent. Flowers in axillary clusters, white or pinkish. Fruit an ellipsoidal drupe, red to purple when ripe.
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Derivation of specific name

arabica: Arabian
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Miscellaneous Details

"Notes: Western Ghats & Eastern Ghats, Cultivated, Native of Ethiopia"
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The genus Coffea includes over a hundred described species, all of them native to tropical forest regions of Africa, Madagascar, or other western Indian Ocean islands (Davis et al. 2006). These shrubs or small trees grow in the understory of secondary forests and along forest edges, including along streams. The cherry-like fruits attract birds and mammals, which disperse the hard seeds (coffee beans are seeds with the ovary and seed coat removed). Coffee beans that have passed through the digestive tract of an Asian Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) are reportedly less bitter and can command a very high price. The alkaloid caffeine is present in many coffee species, not only in the seeds but also in the fruit pulp, leaves, and other parts. The raw seeds have no special flavor or aroma and discovery of the technology of cleaning, roasting, grinding, and brewing coffee developed outside its native range. Coffee is among the most valuable commodities exported by developing countries (Jaramillo et al. 2006; DeKochko et al. 2010). Around 99% of the world's coffee comes from two species, Coffea arabica (Arabian Coffee) and C. canephora (Robusta Coffee), with the remainder coming from another half dozen species, notably C. liberica, the beans of which are used in cheap blends. (Sauer 1993)

Until around 1900, virtually all the world's coffee was derived from C. arabica and this remains the source of the highest quality beans (Sauer 1993). This species is the only tetraploid Coffea species (2n = 44), having been derived as a true allotetraploid from two diploid (2n = 22) progenitors (Clarindo and Carvalho 2008). Although C. arabica is self-fertile and therefore less dependent on insect pollinators than other Coffea species such as C. canephora, fruit set is significantly increased by cross pollination and practices that benefit native bees (such as reducing pesticide use, providing nesting sites for solitary bees, and improving pollen and nectar availability) could thus increase coffee bean yields in many areas (Klein et al. 2003 and references therein).

Coffee growers often grow their trees under a simulated forest canopy of taller trees, often legumes such as Albizzia, Inga, and Gliricidia. In some regions, such as in Brazil, C. arabica is frequently grown without shade. Coffee trees grown without shade tend to mature earlier and to produce larger yields, but they also tend to decline at a younger age than do shade-grown trees. (Sauer 1993) Although there is now extensive evidence that agroecosystems based on shade-grown coffee preserve biodiversity significantly more effectively and are more ecologically sustainable than non-shade coffee monocultures, Tejeda-Cruz et al. (2010) discuss the risk that the promotion of shade-grown coffee, which can be sold at a premium price, can encourage growers to convert additional forest to agriculture, resulting in the loss of many forest-associated species that are rare or absent in shade coffee plantations (Tejeda-Cruz et al. 2010 and references therein). This problem illustrates the complex economic factors that must be considered in developing conservation programs.

Virtually all the world's C. arabica plantations are derived from two transfers of a few plants in the early 1700s, one by the Dutch (which provided the progenitor of the typical variety C. arabica var. arabica) and the other by the French (which provided the progenitor of Bourbon coffee, C. arabica var. borbonica). Further genetic bottlenecks occurred as arabica coffee was spread throughout the tropics, with the progeny of a single tree apparently seeding all the arabica plantations in the New World--and, in a strange twist, coffee growing in East Africa was apparently established with stock arriving via the West Indies in the late 19th century. (Sauer 1993)

Despite the lack of genetic diversity in cultivated C. arabica, serious disease problems did not develop until the late 1860s, when a parasitic fungus, coffee leaf rust (Hemileia vastatrix), began attacking C. arabica plantations in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon). The fungus had spread to East Africa within about 25 years, but following a successful eradication program in Puerto Rico in 1903, it did not become established in the New World until 1970. Once established, this new pest problem made growing C. arabica unprofitable in many areas where it had previously been a successful crop, although many growers were able to switch to growing C. canephora. (Sauer 1993) Among other coffee pests faced by coffee growers, perhaps the most widespread and challenging to combat is the Coffee Berry Borer (Hypothenemus hampei), a small beetle that is native to Africa but now attacks coffee around the world (Damon 2000; Jaramillo et al. 2006).

Coffea arabica grows wild in mountain forests at elevations of 1,500 to 2,000 meters in southern Ethiopia and adjacent Sudan. Wild C. arabica in the Ethiopean highland forests represents an endangered and potentially extremely valuable genetic resource for coffee breeders (Hein and Gatzweiler 2006). DeKochko et al. (2010) review current knowledge of coffee genetics and genomics.

The coffee industry was apparently born in Yemen, which was exporting coffee by the 1500s. By 1700, coffee houses had become important social institutions in cosmopolitan cities throughout Europe as well as in New York and Boston. (Sauer 1993) Decaffeinated coffee has been available since around 1905 (Vaughan and Geissler 1997).

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Distribution

Worldwide distribution

Native to Ethiopia, southern Sudan and northern Kenya.
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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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"Karnataka: Belgaum, Chikmagalur, Coorg, Mysore, N. Kanara Kerala: All districts Tamil Nadu: Dindigul, Kanniyakumari, Nilgiri, Namakkal, Salem, Theni, Tirunelveli, Tiruvannamalai, Vellore"
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"Native of Ethiopia, introduced in the hilly areas of tropical countries."
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Physical Description

Morphology

"
Flower

In aggregated peduncles; white, cylindrical, fragrant. Flowering from March-April.

Fruit

A oblong drupe; greenish when young, reddish when mature. Fruiting November onwards.

Field tips

Leaves opposite with an interpetiolar stipule

Leaf Arrangement

Opposite-decussate

Leaf Type

Simple

Leaf Shape

Elliptic

Leaf Apex

Acuminate

Leaf Base

Cuneate

Leaf Margin

Entire

"
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Diagnostic Description

Diagnostic

"Habit: A large shrub, upto 4m."
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Diagnostic

Habit: Shrub
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Ecology

Associations

Insects whose larvae eat this plant species

Amata alicia (Maid Alice)
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Population Biology

Frequency

A localized and occasional escape in eastern Zimbabwe.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Coffea arabica

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Coffea arabica

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 11
Specimens with Barcodes: 11
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

Reasons: Widely cultivated for coffee.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Folklore

Indigenous Information: Coffee powder is prepared from the seeds.
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Wikipedia

Coffea arabica

Coffea arabica /əˈræbɪkə/ is a species of Coffea originally indigenous to the mountains of the southwestern highlands of Ethiopia. It is also known as the "coffee shrub of Arabia", "mountain coffee" or "arabica coffee". Coffea arabica is believed to be the first species of coffee to be cultivated, being grown in southwest Ethiopia for well over 1,000 years.

It is said to produce better tasting coffee than the other major commercially grown coffee species, Coffea canephora (robusta), because robusta cherries contain twice as much caffeine as arabica. Caffeine itself has a bitter taste, making robusta more bitter. C. arabica contains less caffeine than any other commercially cultivated species of coffee.

Wild plants grow to between 9 and 12 m (29 and 39 ft) tall, and have an open branching system; the leaves are opposite, simple elliptic-ovate to oblong, 6–12 cm (2.4–4.8 in) long and 4–8 cm (1.6–3.2 in) broad, glossy dark green. The flowers are white, 10–15 mm in diameter and grow in axillary clusters. The fruit is a drupe[contradictory] (though commonly called a "cherry"; the plural form is simply "cherry"—used only when referring to the fruit of C. arabica—when referring to the actual cherry fruit, the appropriate plural is "cherries") 10–15 mm in diameter, maturing bright red to purple and typically contains two seeds (the coffee seeds).

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Originally found in the southwestern highlands of Ethiopia, Coffea arabica is now rare in its native state, and many populations appear to be mixed native and planted trees. It is common there as an understorey shrub. It has also been recovered from the Boma Plateau in South Sudan. C. arabica is also found on Mount Marsabit in northern Kenya, but it is unclear whether this is a truly native or naturalised occurrence.[1] The species is widely naturalised in areas outside its native land, in many parts of Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia, China, and assorted islands in the Caribbean and in the Pacific.[2]

The conservation of the genetic variation of Coffea arabica relies on conserving healthy populations of wild coffee in the Afromontane rainforests of Ethiopia. Genetic research has shown coffee cultivation is threatening the genetic integrity of wild coffee because it exposes wild genotypes to cultivars.[3]

Cultivation and use[edit]

Drawing of "Coffea arabica"

Coffea arabica accounts for 75–80 percent of the world's coffee production.[4]

C. arabica takes about seven years to mature fully, and does best with 1.0–1.5 meters (about 40–59 inches) of rain, evenly distributed throughout the year.[citation needed] It is usually cultivated between 1,300 and 1,500 m altitude,[citation needed] but there are plantations as low as sea level and as high as 2,800 m.[5]

The plant can tolerate low temperatures, but not frost, and does best with an average temperature between 15 and 24 °C (59 and 75 °F).[6] Commercial cultivars mostly only grow to about 5 m, and are frequently trimmed as low as 2 m to facilitate harvesting. Unlike Coffea canephora, C. arabica prefers to be grown in light shade.[citation needed]

Two to four years after planting, C. arabica produces small, white, highly fragrant flowers. The sweet fragrance resembles the sweet smell of jasmine flowers. Flowers opening on sunny days results in the greatest numbers of berries. This can be a curse, however, as coffee plants tend to produce too many berries; this can lead to an inferior harvest and even damage yield in the following years, as the plant will favour the ripening of berries to the detriment of its own health.

On well-kept plantations, overflowering is prevented by pruning the tree. The flowers only last a few days, leaving behind only the thick dark green leaves. The berries then begin to appear. These are as dark green as the foliage, until they begin to ripen, at first to yellow and then light red and finally darkening to a glossy deep red. At this point they are called “cherries” and are ready for picking.

The berries are oblong and about 1 cm long. Inferior coffee results from picking them too early or too late, so many are picked by hand to be able to better select them, as they do not all ripen at the same time. They are sometimes shaken off the tree onto mats, which means ripe and unripe berries are collected together.

The trees are difficult to cultivate and each tree can produce from 0.5 to 5.0 kg of dried beans, depending on the tree's individual character and the climate that season. The real prize of this cash crop are the beans inside. Each berry holds two locules containing the beans. The coffee beans are actually two seeds within the fruit; there is sometimes a third seed or one seed, a peaberry in the fruit at tips of the branches. These seeds are covered in two membranes; the outer one is called the "parchment coat" and the inner one is called the "silver skin".

On Java Island, trees are planted at all times of the year and are harvested year round. In parts of Brazil, however, the trees have a season and are harvested only in winter. The plants are vulnerable to damage in poor growing conditions (cold, low pH soil) and are also more vulnerable to pests than the C. robusta plant.[7]

Arabica coffee production in Indonesia began in 1699. Indonesian coffees, such as Sumatran and Java, are known for heavy body and low acidity. This makes them ideal for blending with the higher acidity coffees from Central America and East Africa.

In Hawaii, coffee was formerly more widely grown than at present, and it persists after cultivation in many areas. In some valleys, it is a highly invasive weed.[8]

It is expected that there may be a medium-term depletion of indigenous populations of arabica, due to projected global warming, based on IPCC modelling.[9]

Gourmet coffees are almost exclusively high-quality mild varieties of arabica coffee, and among the finest arabica coffee beans in the world used for making espresso coffee are Jamaican Blue Mountain, Colombian Supremo, Tarrazú, Costa Rica, Guatemalan Antigua and Ethiopian Sidamo.[10][11][12][13]

A Coffea arabica plantation in São João do Manhuaçu, Minas Gerais, Brazil

History and legend[edit]

Main article: History of coffee

According to legend, human cultivation of coffee began after goats in Ethiopia were seen mounting each other after eating the leaves and fruits of the coffee tree. In Ethiopia, though, people in some locals still drink an herbal tea made from the leaves of the coffee tree.

The first written record of coffee made from roasted coffee beans comes from Arab scholars, who wrote that it was useful in prolonging their working hours.[citation needed] The Arab innovation in Yemen of making a brew from roasted beans, spread first among the Egyptians and Turks, and later on found its way around the world.

Taxonomy[edit]

Coffea arabica was first described by Antoine de Jussieu, who named it Jasminum arabicum after studying a specimen from the Botanic Gardens of Amsterdam. Linnaeus placed it in its own genus Coffea in 1737.[14]

Strains[edit]

Structure of coffee berry and beans:
1: Center cut.
2: Bean(endosperm).
3: Silver skin(testa, epidermis).
4: Parchment coat(hull, endocarp).
5: Pectin layer.
6: Pulp(mesocarp).
7: Outer skin(pericarp, exocarp).

One strain of Ethiopian Coffea arabica naturally contains very little caffeine. While beans of normal C. arabica plants contain 12 milligrams of caffeine per gram of dry mass, these newly found mutants contain only 0.76 milligrams of caffeine per gram, but with all the taste of normal coffee.[15]

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

Portal icon Coffee portal

References[edit]

  1. ^ Charrier A, Berthaud, p. 20
  2. ^ Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, Coffea arabica
  3. ^ Silvarolla, M. B.; Mazzafera, P.; Fazuoli, L. C. (2004). "Plant biochemistry: A naturally decaffeinated arabica coffee". Nature 429 (6994): 826. doi:10.1038/429826a. PMID 15215853.  edit
  4. ^ Arabica and Robusta Coffee Plant, at the Coffee Research Institute homepage. Retrieved December 2012.
  5. ^ Christine B. Schmitt (2006). Montane Rainforest with Wild Coffea Arabica in the Bonga Region (SW Ethiopia): Plant Diversity, Wild Coffee Management and Implications for Conservation. Cuvillier Verlag. p. 4. ISBN 978-3-86727-043-4. 
  6. ^ Taye Kufa Obso (2006). Ecophysiological Diversity of Wild Arabica Coffee Populations in Ethiopia: Growth, Water Relations and Hydraulic Characteristics Along a Climatic Gradient. Cuvillier Verlag. p. 10. ISBN 978-3-86727-990-1. 
  7. ^ “Coffee: The World in Your Cup.” Seattle, WA: Burke Museum at the University of Washington
  8. ^ "Coffea arabica (PIER species info)". Retrieved 15 July 2011. 
  9. ^ The Impact of Climate Change on Indigenous Arabica Coffee (Coffea arabica): Predicting Future Trends and Identifying Priorities, article in PLOS ONE
  10. ^ Revista VEJA (2008-07-31). "Os melhores grãos do mundo" (in Portuguese). Editora Abril. Retrieved 2008-07-29.  Edition 2071. Print edition pp. 140
  11. ^ Betty Fussell (1999-09-05). "The World Before Starbucks". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-29. 
  12. ^ Florence Fabricant (1992-09-02). "Americans Wake Up and Smell the Coffee". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-29. 
  13. ^ "Ferris Gourmet Coffee Beans: Single origin coffees". Ferris Coffee & Nuts. Archived from the original on 2008-03-20. Retrieved 2008-07-29. 
  14. ^ Charrier A, Berthaud J (1985). "Botanical Classification of Coffee". In Clifford MH, Wilson KC. Coffee: Botany, Biochemistry and Production of Beans and Beverage. Westport, Connecticut: AVI Publishing. p. 14. ISBN 0-7099-0787-7. 
  15. ^ http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v429/n6994/full/429826a.html

Further reading[edit]

  • Silvarolla, Maria B.; Mazzafera, Paulo; Fazuoli, Luiz C. (2004). "A naturally decaffeinated arabica coffee". Nature 429 (6994): 826. doi:10.1038/429826a. PMID 15215853. 
  • Weinberg, Bennet Alan; Bealer, Bonnie K. (2001). The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World's Most Popular Drug. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-92722-6. 
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