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Coffea arabica

Coffea arabica, Photo: Michael Lahanas

Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Cladus: Asterids
Cladus: Lamiids
Ordo: Gentianales

Familia: Rubiaceae
Subfamilia: Ixoroideae
Tribus: Coffeeae
Genus: Coffea
Subgenus: Coffea subg. Coffea
Species: Coffea arabica

Coffea arabica L.

Linnaeus, C. 1753. Species Plantarum. Tomus I: 172. Reference page.

Vernacular names
Afrikaans: Koffie
dansk: Kaffe
Deutsch: Arabicakaffee, Arabischer Kaffeebaum the tree, Arabischer Kaffeestrauch the plant, Bergkaffee, Kaffee, Kaffeebohne, the bean, Kaffeestrauch
Ελληνικά: Καφές Kafes
English: Arabian coffee, Arabica coffee, Coffee
Esperanto: Araba kofeo
español: Café arábica
eesti: Araabia kohvipuu
suomi: Arabiankahvi
français: Café arabica, Caféier commun, Caféier d'Arabie
עברית: קפה ערביקה
magyar: Arab kávé
italiano: Pianta del caffè, Albero del caffè, Caffè
한국어: 커피나무
മലയാളം: കാപ്പിചെടി
Bahasa Melayu: Kopi
Nederlands: Arabicakoffie, Koffie, Koffiestruik
polski: Kawa arabska
português: Cafe, Café, Caféeiro
русский: Кофе арабика
chiShona: Muhubva
svenska: Kaffe
Kiswahili: Kahawa
தமிழ்: Capie cottay
తెలుగు: Chaabe
ไทย: กาแฟ
Tagalog: Kapé
Türkçe: Kahve
Tiếng Việt: Càphê arabica

Coffea arabica (/əˈræbɪkə/), also known as the Arabian coffee, is a species of flowering plant in the coffee and madder family Rubiaceae. It is believed to be the first species of coffee to have been cultivated, and is currently the dominant cultivar, representing about 60% of global production.[2] Coffee produced from the (less acidic, more bitter, and more highly caffeinated) robusta bean (C. canephora) makes up most of the remaining coffee production. Arabica coffee originates from Ethiopia and was first cultivated in Yemen, and documented by the 12th century.[3][4] Coffea arabica is called ‏بُنّ‎ (būnn) in Arabic, borrowed from the Oromo "Buna".


Coffea arabica was first described scientifically 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.[5]

Coffea arabica is the only polyploid species of the genus Coffea, as it carries 4 copies of the 11 chromosomes (44 total) instead of the 2 copies of diploid species. Specifically, Coffea arabica is itself the result of a hybridization between the diploids Coffea canephora and Coffea eugenioides,[6] thus making it an allotetraploid, with two copies of two different genomes. This hybridization event at the origin of Coffea arabica is estimated between 1.08 million and 543,000 years ago and is linked to changing environmental conditions in East Africa.[7]

Wild plants grow between 9 and 12 m (30 and 39 ft) tall, and have an open branching system; the leaves are opposite, simple elliptic-ovate to oblong, 6–12 cm (2.5–4.5 in) long and 4–8 cm (1.5–3 in) broad, glossy dark green. The flowers are white, 10–15 mm in diameter and grow in axillary clusters. The seeds are contained in a drupe (commonly called a "cherry") 10–15 mm in diameter, maturing bright red to purple and typically contains two seeds, often called coffee beans.
Distribution and habitat

Endemic to the southwestern highlands of Ethiopia,[8] Coffea arabica is now rare in Ethiopia, while many populations appear to be of mixed native and planted trees. It is commonly used as an understorey shrub. It has also been recovered from the Boma Plateau in South Sudan. Coffea arabica is also found on Mount Marsabit in northern Kenya, but it is unclear whether this is a truly native or naturalised occurrence; recent studies support it being naturalised.[9][10] 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.[11]

The conservation of the genetic variation of C. arabica relies on conserving healthy populations of wild coffee in the Afromontane rainforests of Yemen. Genetic research has shown coffee cultivation is threatening the genetic integrity of wild coffee because it exposes wild genotypes to cultivars.[12] Nearly all of the coffee that has been cultivated over the past few centuries originated with just a handful of wild plants from Yemen, and today the coffee growing on plantations around the world contains less than 1% of the diversity contained in the wild in Yemen alone.[13]
Main article: History of coffee

The first written record of coffee made from roasted coffee beans (botanical seeds) comes from Arab scholars, who wrote that it was useful in prolonging their working hours. 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. Other scholars believe that the coffee plant was introduced from Yemen, based on a Yemeni tradition that slips of both coffee and qat were planted at 'Udein' ('the two twigs') in Yemen in pre-Islamic times.[14] Arabica coffee production in, Indonesia began in 1699 through the spread of Yemen's trade., 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.[8]
Cultivation and use
Botanical drawing of Coffea arabica, around 1860
Botanical drawing of C. arabica, dating from around 1880.

Coffea arabica accounts for 60% of the world's coffee production.[2]

C. arabica takes approximately seven years to mature fully, and it does best with 1.0–1.5 metres (39–59 in) of rain, evenly distributed throughout the year. It is usually cultivated at an altitude between 1,300 and 1,500 m (4,300 and 4,900 ft), but there are plantations that grow it as low as sea level and as high as 2,800 m (9,200 ft).[15]

The plant can tolerate low temperatures, but not frost, and it does best with an average temperature between 15 and 24 °C (59 and 75 °F).[16] 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.[17]

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 result in the greatest numbers of berries. This can be problematic and deleterious, 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 favor 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", which fruit they then resemble, 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 kilograms (1.1 to 11.0 lb) of dried beans, depending on the tree's individual character and the climate that season. The most valuable part 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; sometimes, a third seed or one seed, a peaberry, grows 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, 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 such poor growing conditions as cold or low pH soil, and they are also more vulnerable to pests than the C. robusta plant.[18]

The coffee tree was first brought to Hawaii in 1813, and it began to be extensively grown by about 1850.[19] It was formerly more widely grown than at present, especially in Kona,[19] and it persists after cultivation in many areas. In some valleys, it is a highly invasive weed.[20] In the Udawattakele and Gannoruwa Forest Reserves near Kandy, Sri Lanka, coffee shrubs are also a problematic invasive species.[21]

It is expected that a medium-term depletion of indigenous populations of C. arabica may occur, due to projected global warming, based on IPCC modelling.[22] Climate change—rising temperatures, longer droughts, and excessive rainfall—appears to threaten the sustainability of arabica coffee production, leading to attempts to breed new cultivars for the changing conditions.[23]

Gourmet coffees are almost exclusively high-quality mild varieties of arabica coffee, and among the best known arabica coffee beans in the world are those from Jamaican Blue Mountain, Colombian Supremo, Tarrazú, Costa Rica, Guatemalan Antigua, and Ethiopian Sidamo.[24][25][26]
A Coffea arabica plantation in São João do Manhuaçu, Minas Gerais, Brazil
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 Coffea arabica naturally contains very little caffeine. While beans of normal C. arabica plants contain 12 mg of caffeine per gram of dry mass, these mutants contain only 0.76 mg of caffeine per gram, but with taste similar to normal coffee.[27]

Although it presently has a very large wild population of 13.5 to 19.5 billion individuals throughout its native range, C. arabica is still considered Endangered on the IUCN Red List due to numerous threats it faces. Due to being an understory plant, it requires standing forest, making it highly susceptible to the historically significant deforestation levels in Ethiopia; prior to major deforestation, forest cover was thought to number between 25 - 31% of Ethiopia's total land surface, but now numbers just 4%, and deforestation still continues. In addition, climate change may have a major effect on growing areas for wild C. arabica in Ethiopia due to its high temperature sensitivity, and estimates indicate that population numbers could reduce by 50 - 80% with a 40 - 50% reduction in area of occupancy by 2088; climate change can also impact reproductive success. In addition, the main pest of coffee, the coffee berry borer (Hypothenemus hampei) may stand to benefit from climate change and colonize higher altitudes that were formerly too cold for it, which can also impact coffee populations.[10]

Climate change also serves as a threat to cultivated C. arabica due to their temperature sensitivity, and some studies estimate that by 2050, over half of the land used for cultivating coffee could be unproductive. The more heat-tolerant Coffea stenophylla may replace C. arabica as the dominant coffee species in cultivation in order to guard against this.[28]
See also

Maraba coffee

Emblem-relax.svg Coffee portal

Moat, J.; O'Sullivan, R.J.; Gole, T.W.; Davis, A.P. (2020). "Coffea arabica". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2020: e.T18289789A174149937. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-2.RLTS.T18289789A174149937.en. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
"Coffee: World Markets and Trade" (PDF). United States Department of Agriculture – Foreign Agricultural Service. 16 June 2017. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
Meyer, Frederick G. 1965. Notes on wild Coffea arabica from Southwestern Ethiopia, with some historical considerations. Economic Botany 19: 136–151.
Söndahl, M. R.; van der Vossen, H. A. M. (2005). "The plant: Origin, production and botany". In Illy, Andrea; Viani, Rinantonio (eds.). Espresso Coffee: The Science of Quality (Second ed.). Elsevier Academic Press. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-12-370371-2.
Charrier, A.; Berthaud, J. (1985). "Botanical Classification of Coffee". In Clifford, M. H.; Wilson, K. C. (eds.). Coffee: Botany, Biochemistry and Production of Beans and Beverage. Westport, Connecticut: AVI Publishing. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-7099-0787-9.
Lashermes, P.; Combes, M.-C.; Robert, J.; Trouslot, P.; D'Hont, A.; Anthony, F.; Charrier, A. (1 March 1999). "Molecular characterisation and origin of the Coffea arabica L. genome". Molecular and General Genetics. 261 (2): 259–266. doi:10.1007/s004380050965. ISSN 0026-8925. PMID 10102360. S2CID 7978085.
Yves Bawin, Tom Ruttink, Ariane Staelens, Annelies Haegeman, Piet Stoffelen, Jean‐Claude Ithe Mwanga Mwanga, Isabel Roldán‐Ruiz, Olivier Honnay, Steven B. Janssens (2020). "Phylogenomic analysis clarifies the evolutionary origin of Coffea arabica". Journal of Systematics and Evolution. 59 (5): 953–963. doi:10.1111/jse.12694. S2CID 234481707.
Martinez-Torres, Maria Elena (2006). Organic Coffee. Ohio University. ISBN 9780896802476. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
Charrier & Berthaud (1985), p. 20.
Moat, J., O'Sullivan, R.J., Gole, T. & Davis, A.P. 2020. (2020). "Coffea arabica". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2020: e.T18289789A174149937. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-2.RLTS.T18289789A174149937.en.
Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, Coffea arabica
Silvarolla, M. B.; Mazzafera, P.; Fazuoli, L. C. (2004). "Plant biochemistry: A naturally decaffeinated arabica coffee". Nature. 429 (6994): 826. Bibcode:2004Natur.429..826S. doi:10.1038/429826a. PMID 15215853. S2CID 4428420.
Rosner, Hillary (October 2014). "Saving Coffee". Scientific American. 311 (4): 68–73. Bibcode:2014SciAm.311d..68R. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican1014-68. PMID 25314878.
Western Arabia and the Red Sea, Naval Intelligence Division, London 2005, p. 490 ISBN 0-7103-1034-X
Schmitt, Christine B. (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.
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.
Prado, Sara Guiti; Collazo, Jaime A.; Stevenson, Philip C.; Irwin, Rebecca E. (14 May 2019). "A comparison of coffee floral traits under two different agricultural practices". Scientific Reports. 9 (1): 7331. Bibcode:2019NatSR...9.7331P. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-43753-y. ISSN 2045-2322. PMC 6517588. PMID 31089179.
"Coffee: The World in Your Cup." Seattle, WA: Burke Museum at the University of Washington.
Hargreaves, Dorothy; Hargreaves, Bob (1964). Tropical Trees of Hawaii. Kailua, Hawaii: Hargreaves. p. 17.
"Coffea arabica (PIER species info)". Retrieved 15 July 2011.
Nyanatusita, Bhikkhu; Dissanayake, Rajith (2013). "Udawattakele: 'A Sanctuary Destroyed From Within'" (PDF). Loris, Journal of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society of Sri Lanka. 26 (5 & 6): 44.
Davis, Aaron P.; Gole, Tadesse Woldemariam; Baena, Susana; Moat, Justin (2012). "The impact of climate change on indigenous arabica coffee (Coffea arabica): Predicting future trends and identifying priorities". PLOS ONE. 7 (11): e47981. Bibcode:2012PLoSO...747981D. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047981. PMC 3492365. PMID 23144840.
van der Vossen, Herbert; Bertrand, Benoît; Charrier, André (2015). "Next generation variety development for sustainable production of arabica coffee (Coffea arabica L.): A review". Euphytica. 204 (2): 244. doi:10.1007/s10681-015-1398-z. S2CID 17384126.
"Os melhores grãos do mundo". Revista Veja (in Portuguese). Editora Abril. 31 July 2008. Archived from the original on 5 August 2008. Retrieved 29 July 2008. Edition 2071. Print edition p. 140
Fussell, Betty (5 September 1999). "The World Before Starbucks". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 July 2008.
Fabricant, Florence (2 September 1992). "Americans Wake Up and Smell the Coffee". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 July 2008.
Silvarolla, Maria B.; Mazzafera, Paulo; Fazuoli, Luiz C. (2004). "Plant biochemistry: A naturally decaffeinated arabica coffee". Nature. 429 (6994): 826. Bibcode:2004Natur.429..826S. doi:10.1038/429826a. PMID 15215853. S2CID 4428420.

"Climate change: Future-proofing coffee in a warming world". BBC News. 19 April 2021. Retrieved 24 April 2021.

Further reading
Silvarolla, Maria B.; Mazzafera, Paulo; Fazuoli, Luiz C. (2004). "A naturally decaffeinated arabica coffee". Nature. 429 (6994): 826. Bibcode:2004Natur.429..826S. doi:10.1038/429826a. PMID 15215853. S2CID 4428420.
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 978-0-415-92722-2.

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