COFFEA

ARABICA

Varieties are: Bourbon, Typica, Caturra, Mundo Novo, Tico, San Ramon, and Jamaican Blue Mountain.

Coffea Arabica is descended from the original coffee trees discovered in Ethiopia. These trees produce a fine, mild, aromatic coffee and represent approximately 70% of the world’s coffee production. The beans are flatter and more elongated than Robusta and contain lower levels of caffeine.

On the world market, Arabica coffees bring the highest prices. The better Arabicas are high grown coffees — generally grown between 2,000 to 6,000 feet (610 to 1830 meters) above sea level — though optimal altitude varies with proximity to the equator.

The most important factor is that temperatures must remain mild, ideally between 59 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit, with about 60 inches of rainfall a year. The trees are hearty, but a heavy frost will kill them. Arabica trees are costly to cultivate because the ideal terrain tends to be steep and access is difficult. Also, because the trees are more disease-prone than Robusta, they require additional care and attention.

COFFEA CANEPHORA

OTHERWISE REFERRED TO AS ROBUSTA

Most of the world’s Robusta is grown in Central and Western Africa, parts of Southeast Asia, including Indonesia and Vietnam, and in Brazil. Production of Robusta is increasing, although it accounts for only about 30% of the world market. Robusta is mainly used in blends and for instant coffees. The Robusta bean itself tends to be slightly rounder and smaller than an Arabica bean.

The Robusta tree is heartier and more resistant to disease and parasites, which makes it easier and cheaper to cultivate. It also has the advantage of being able to withstand warmer climates, preferring constant temperatures between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, which enables it to grow at far lower altitudes than Arabica. It requires about 60 inches of rainfall a year, and cannot withstand frost. Compared with Arabica, Robusta beans produce a coffee which has a distinctive taste and about 50-60% more caffeine.