From Bean to Cup Pt.1: The Coffee Plant

‘From Bean to Cup’ is a series of blogs by Pollards that guides you through the processes behind the daily cup of coffee we all enjoy. The blogs will cover the processing, the roasting and the grading of coffee beans, while documenting its journey from the plantation to your favourite mug. Find links to other posts at the bottom of this page…

Where does coffee come from?

Have you ever thought about where the cup of coffee you are drinking comes from? No, I don’t mean which supermarket or country, but how the beans grown and processed?

The coffee that we have all grown to love is the seed of a bushy evergreen plant found in many places around the world, particularly in the tropics. There are many different types of coffee plant but two, coffea arabica and coffea canephora, or good ol’ Arabica and Robusta to you and me, account for more than 95% of the world’s coffee production.

The coffee plant

Left to grow wild, the coffee plant can reach 5 metres high, which can make harvesting its bright red cherries a little difficult to say the least. However plants farmed for coffee production are commonly pruned to a maximum height of 1.4 meters, so that all the crop can be harvested comfortably by hand.

The coffee plant is a dark green bushy plant that blossoms a beautifully fragrant white flower. Interestingly, coffee plants all flower at the same time, turning vast swathes of plantations into a ‘blanket of snow’ during the flowering period.

Once the flower has been pollinated, the plant begins to form red cherries that contain the coffee beans. Normally two beans will grow inside a cherry, each having one flat face laying against the other bean. However, if just one bean grows within the cherry it will form a round almost spherical bean, know as a peaberry browse around this web-site.

Coffee plants also make surprisingly good house plants and if you fancy owning one of your own you can find them on sale from the Eden Project in Cornwall. If you do buy one, let us know how you get on, especially if you manage to get them to flower and fruit!

In the next post I will be looking at the differences between the Robusta and Arabica beans.

Until next time…

By Simon Bower

  From Bean to Cup Pt.2: Arabica V RobustaNext >