The coffee plant is an evergreen and belongs to the family of the Rubiaceen. There are two main species of the coffee plant, the Arabica and the Robusta. These two species are again only umbrella names under which exist countless under-species, the Arabica plant for example has over 80 under-species. The fruit of each kind has its own very distinct taste depending on soil, drainage, sunshine and country in which it is growing.
Around two thirds of the world production derives from Arabica coffee plants, the “Coffea Arabica”. Their preferred growing area is between 600 and 2000 metres above sea level and they mainly grow in Central and South America and on the east coast of Africa. The Arabica coffee-bean takes 7 to 8 months to ripen and is mainly processed by soaking the harvested beans in tanks of water to remove their pergamino-skins, the so called “wet method”.
Robusta coffee accounts for one third of the world production, it grows faster then the Arabica plant and it carries more fruit. As the name suggests Robusta plants are tougher and are less susceptible to heat and vermin. They grow in coastal regions up to 600 metres above sea level, mainly in the tropical regions of Africa and Asia. The Robusta beans take between 9 and 11 months to ripen and are dried in the open air to remove their pergamino-skins, the “dry method”.
The evergreen coffee plant has longish, dark green leaves and the peculiarity of the plant is that it simultaneously develops flowers, unripe and ripe fruit and therefore coffee can be harvested all through the year, although there are main harvest times in every country. For example in a large country like Colombia, the different climatic regions from north to south enable a year round harvest.