Coffee Trees

The Coffee Tree

Let's talk about what gets you going, especially in the morning, the morning coffee ritual.  It starts with the moment you bring out the coffee, open up the airtight storage container, or unfold the coffee bag and those coffee beans once exposed to the air, fill the kitchen with a magnificent aroma.  The grinder starts, or if it is pre-ground coffee, ultimately you measure out the amount of coffee needed to fill the machine or however you prepare your coffee and the coffee brewing starts. 

During the few minutes it takes for the coffee to brew you search for the mug, the one you like best.  When you open the kitchen cabinet your eyes glaze over the number of mugs that you have collected over the years. Aha!  You spot it, your favorite coffee mug that you use almost every morning.  The coffee is ready and you pour yourself the first cup of coffee and take that first sip of the day, and sigh.

 

Photo of a man on a porch in the morning with a steaming cup of coffee

Photo Courtesy of Karyn Sig 

Wikimedia Commons

Hundreds of millions of people start their morning with coffee.  Coffee is the glue that keeps the country together, keeps companies together and families together.  I once worked for a person that no one would speak to until they had at least a full cup of coffee.  Whether we brew it at home, go to our local coffee shop, or are fortunate enough to work in an office that has a full kitchen serving Weaver's Coffee & Tea.  We know what the coffee bean looks like, how it smells, how to grind it, how it tastes when it's brewed.  However, do you ever stop to think about the coffee tree itself?

Coffea

Coffee is made from the seeds of the berries of the Coffea species.  Native to tropical and southern Africa as well as tropical Asia, Coffea is a genus of flowering plants in the family Rubiaceae.  Depending upon how they are tended, the coffee tree is usually grown as a shrub or a small tree by coffee farmers.  However, in the wild a coffee tree can reach over thirty feet in height!

 

Drawing of the COFFEA Tree 

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

The coffee tree can live up to 100 years and produces beautiful but highly scented white flowers along with a deep red fruit that is now referred to as the coffee cherry. The coffee cherry is surrounded by a protected layer called the endocarp, often contains two coffee beans.  In very rare, but natural circumstances, the coffee cherry will only produce a single, small coffee bean that is known as a peaberry coffee.  For more information on peaberry coffee cherry please click on this blog about peaberry coffee.  

There are over 100 species of Coffea, the two most common being Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora.  The seeds of these species are where we get our coffee beans.  The cherries of the coffee tree are picked, processed, dried, then hulled (a process of removing an outside layer of the bean, the endocarp) before being sent to a coffee exporter and then ultimately a coffee roaster.

 

Coffee Cherries and Kenyan Women Coffee Farmers picking through the coffee cherries

Photo Courtesy of Kamweti wa Mutu

Wikimedia Commons / Women Coffee Farmers in Kenyan 

The caffeine in coffee beans is important for two reasons.  Besides keeping me alive and my eyes open, the caffeine attracts honeybees which help keep the plant pollinated as well as serving as a natural deterrent for insects.  However, not all Coffea species are caffeinated.  Scientists theorize that caffeine in plants (like cocoa and tea, which are far-distant relatives) is an adapted trait unique to the specific species.  One example is Charrier coffee, a recent discovery. Native to Cameroon in central Africa, Charrier coffee is naturally caffeine free.

Arabica vs. Canephora (Robusta)

The two most common species of Coffea are arabica and canephora, also known as robusta coffee.

Weaver’s Coffee & Tea only uses 100% Arabica coffee.

Arabica is an evergreen native to Africa that has fragrant white blooms that flower from May to June about two years into maturity.  While native to Africa, it resulted as a cross of C. Canephora (robusta) and C. Eugenioides.  This coffee makes up about 60% of coffee exports, and is the dominant cultivar of the plant. The remaining 40% of exports is robusta coffee.

Robusta also has origins in Africa. It has a larger crop yield than arabica coffee, and is a lot less prone to disease.  While it seems like this is the superior plant to grow, the coffee beans that are produced are cheaper, have higher amounts of caffeine and are extremely bitter.  Robusta coffee is usually mixed with Arabica coffee in low-grade and cheaper coffees.  Arabica coffee, which is more expensive, hand picked and tends to be smoother, and hence preferred by master roasters such as John Weaver.

Both types of coffee will produce very different flavor profiles and we encourage you to find out which type of coffee you prefer.  John Weaver has 40 years of experience as a master coffee roaster, and only uses 100% Arabica coffee for both our single-origin coffees and our coffee blends.  This allows him to hand roast beautiful coffee and create remarkable depth and body, with an incredible flavor profile and that is balanced and smooth.

Growing Your Own Coffee Plant

While coffee is native to Africa and grows well along the equatorial belt that should not stop you from trying to bring this into your own home!

 

Photo of a Coffee Tree

Photo Courtesy of  Joonasl

Wikimedia Commons 

Below is our basic guide for growing C. arabica in your own home.

 

Soil

Fairly acidic, well-draining soil. The soil should be peat based, as the plant will not do well in limey soils. 

Light Conditions

Despite what you might think, these plants do not need full sunlight. Dappled sunlight is best, and the plant only needs a few hours of sunshine a day to thrive. Direct, prolonged sunshine can damage and burn a young plant.

Watering

During growing, water regularly to keep the soil moist, but not soggy. Water when the top inch of soil is dry, and never let the plant dry out completely. Do not let the plant sit in water or else the roots will rot.

Fertilizing

Fertilize with a weak, organic fertilizer in the growing season regularly. Fertilize only once a month during the winter.

Common Pests

Like most houseplants, the coffee plant is most prone to pests like mealy bugs, aphids, and spider mites. Check the plant often for any site of these bugs and refer to your local gardening center for how to naturally cure your plant if you develop problems.

Humidity

Keep the plants at an average of 60 to 74 degrees Fahrenheit (16 – 23 Celsius). These plants thrive in high humidity. Group them with other tropical plants and keep humid with a humidifier or by spraying with a water bottle to mimic ideal conditions. 

Toxicity

Toxic to humans and animals. The only non-toxic part of the plant is the mature fruit.

 

While you wait for your coffee tree to grow, here are recipes of coffee drinks you can make at home!

 

Coffee Drink Recipes to Make at Home

Mocha Banana Smoothie 

 

Photo Chocolate Banana Smoothie

INGREDIENTS

    1 cup oat milk (or milk of choice)

    1 cup of Weaver’s Coffee Organic Blend coffee, cooled

    1 large frozen banana

    2 tablespoon cacao powder

    ½ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

 Combine all ingredients, and blend!

 

Breakfast Smoothie

INGREDIENTS

    1 cup cold-brew coffee

    1 scoop chocolate protein powder

    1 cup unsweetened oat milk

    1/2 cup low-fat yogurt (optional)

    1/2 avocado

    5 ice cubes

    1 1/2 teaspoons maple syrup or vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Sprinkle with the optional cacao if you like, and enjoy immediately!

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffea

http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=b632

https://www.ncausa.org/About-Coffee/10-Steps-from-Seed-to-Cup

https://www.thespruce.com/grow-coffee-plants-1902614

https://www.plantopedia.com/coffea-arabica/#fertilizing

  


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