Coffee bean
A coffee bean is a seed of a coffee plant
Coffea is a genus of flowering plants in the Rubiaceae family. They are shrubs or small trees native to tropical and southern Africa and tropical Asia. Seeds of several species are the source of the popular beverage coffee. Coffee ranks as one of the world's most valuable and widely traded...

. It is the pit
In botany, a drupe is a fruit in which an outer fleshy part surrounds a shell of hardened endocarp with a seed inside. These fruits develop from a single carpel, and mostly from flowers with superior ovaries...

 inside the red or purple fruit often referred to as a cherry. Even though they are seeds, they are referred to as 'beans' because of their resemblance to true beans. The fruits - coffee cherries or coffee berries - most commonly contain two stones with their flat sides together. In a crop of coffee, a small percentage of cherries contain a single bean, instead of the usual two. This is called a peaberry
Peaberry, also known as caracoli, is a type of coffee bean. Normally the fruit of the coffee plant develops as two halves of a bean within a single cherry, but sometimes only one of the two seeds gets fertilized, so there is nothing to flatten it. This oval bean is known as peaberry...

. Like brazil nuts and white rice, coffee beans consist mostly of endosperm
Endosperm is the tissue produced inside the seeds of most flowering plants around the time of fertilization. It surrounds the embryo and provides nutrition in the form of starch, though it can also contain oils and protein. This makes endosperm an important source of nutrition in human diet...


The two most economically important varieties of coffee plant are the Arabica and the Robusta. 75-80% of the coffee produced worldwide is Arabica and 20% is Robusta. . Arabica beans consist of 0.8-1.4% caffeine
Caffeine is a bitter, white crystalline xanthine alkaloid that acts as a stimulant drug. Caffeine is found in varying quantities in the seeds, leaves, and fruit of some plants, where it acts as a natural pesticide that paralyzes and kills certain insects feeding on the plants...

 and Robusta beans consist of 1.7-4% caffeine. . As coffee
Coffee is a brewed beverage with a dark,init brooo acidic flavor prepared from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant, colloquially called coffee beans. The beans are found in coffee cherries, which grow on trees cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in equatorial Latin America, Southeast Asia,...

 is one of the world's most widely consumed beverages, coffee beans are a major cash crop
Cash crop
In agriculture, a cash crop is a crop which is grown for profit.The term is used to differentiate from subsistence crops, which are those fed to the producer's own livestock or grown as food for the producer's family...

, and an important export
The term export is derived from the conceptual meaning as to ship the goods and services out of the port of a country. The seller of such goods and services is referred to as an "exporter" who is based in the country of export whereas the overseas based buyer is referred to as an "importer"...

 product, counting for over 50% of some developing nations' foreign exchange earnings. The United States imports more coffee than any other nation . The average person in the United States consumed 4.09kg (9lbs) of coffee in the year 2009.


Cultivation of the coffee bean originated in Yemen, in approximately 850 C.E. Farming of the coffee plant then spread to the rest of Arabia, where it was first mentioned in writing around 900 C.E. The Yemenites guarded it carefully, but some plants were eventually smuggled out to the Dutch, who kept a few plants for gardens in the Netherlands.

The Americas were first introduced to the plants around 1723.

South America is now responsible for approximately 45% of the world's total coffee exports.

Significant dates

  • First cultivation in Europe (also first cultivation outside of east Africa/Arabia) - 1616
  • First cultivation in India (Malabar) - late 1600's
  • First cultivation in Java - 1699
  • First cultivation in Caribbean (Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, Santo Domingo, Puerto Rico) – 1715–1730
  • First cultivation in South America – 1730
  • First cultivation in Dutch East Indies – 1720
  • Roasted beans first sold on retail market (Pittsburgh) – 1865
  • Important spray-drying techniques developed in 1950s


The Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary
The Oxford English Dictionary , published by the Oxford University Press, is the self-styled premier dictionary of the English language. Two fully bound print editions of the OED have been published under its current name, in 1928 and 1989. The first edition was published in twelve volumes , and...

 suggests that the European languages generally appear to have got the name from Turkish
Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

 kahveh, about 1600, perhaps through Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

 caffè. Arab qahwah, in Turkish pronounced kahveh, the name of the infusion
An infusion is the outcome of steeping plants with desired chemical compounds or flavors in water or oil.-History:The first recorded use of essential oils was in the 10th or 11th century by the Persian polymath Avicenna, possibly in The Canon of Medicine.-Preparation techniques:An infusion is very...

 or beverage; said by Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 lexicographers to have originally meant ‘wine
Wine is an alcoholic beverage, made of fermented fruit juice, usually from grapes. The natural chemical balance of grapes lets them ferment without the addition of sugars, acids, enzymes, or other nutrients. Grape wine is produced by fermenting crushed grapes using various types of yeast. Yeast...

’ or some kind of wine, and to be a derivative of a verb
A verb, from the Latin verbum meaning word, is a word that in syntax conveys an action , or a state of being . In the usual description of English, the basic form, with or without the particle to, is the infinitive...

Root (linguistics)
The root word is the primary lexical unit of a word, and of a word family , which carries the most significant aspects of semantic content and cannot be reduced into smaller constituents....

 qahiya ‘to have no appetite
The appetite is the desire to eat food, felt as hunger. Appetite exists in all higher life-forms, and serves to regulate adequate energy intake to maintain metabolic needs. It is regulated by a close interplay between the digestive tract, adipose tissue and the brain. Decreased desire to eat is...

.’ Some have conjectured that it is a foreign, perhaps African
African languages
There are over 2100 and by some counts over 3000 languages spoken natively in Africa in several major language families:*Afro-Asiatic spread throughout the Middle East, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, and parts of the Sahel...

, word disguised, and have thought it connected with the name of Kaffa
Kaffa is the name of several geographical entities:*Kingdom of Kaffa, ancient Kingdom of the Sidamo people.*Kaffa, former province in Ethiopia.*Kaffa people, an ethnic group in Ethiopia....

 in the south Abyssinia
Ethiopian Empire
The Ethiopian Empire also known as Abyssinia, covered a geographical area that the present-day northern half of Ethiopia and Eritrea covers, and included in its peripheries Zeila, Djibouti, Yemen and Western Saudi Arabia...

n highland
Highland (geography)
The term highland or upland is used to denote any mountainous region or elevated mountainous plateau. Generally speaking, the term upland tends to be used for ranges of hills, typically up to 500-600m, and highland for ranges of low mountains.The Scottish Highlands refers to the mountainous...

s, where the plant
Plants are living organisms belonging to the kingdom Plantae. Precise definitions of the kingdom vary, but as the term is used here, plants include familiar organisms such as trees, flowers, herbs, bushes, grasses, vines, ferns, mosses, and green algae. The group is also called green plants or...

 appears to be native. But of this there is no evidence
Evidence in its broadest sense includes everything that is used to determine or demonstrate the truth of an assertion. Giving or procuring evidence is the process of using those things that are either presumed to be true, or were themselves proven via evidence, to demonstrate an assertion's truth...

, and the name qahwah is not given to the berry
The botanical definition of a berry is a fleshy fruit produced from a single ovary. Grapes are an example. The berry is the most common type of fleshy fruit in which the entire ovary wall ripens into an edible pericarp. They may have one or more carpels with a thin covering and fleshy interiors....

 or plant, which is called bunn, the native name in Shoa
Shoa may refer to:* The Holocaust, named Ha-Shoah in Hebrew* Shoah .* Shoa, Ethiopia, the Shewa region, sometimes spelled Shoa* Shuwa Arabic or the Baggara Arabs* Shoa Magazine, a monthly magazine published from Pakistan...

being b'n.

Coffee plant

The coffee tree averages from 5–10 m (15–30 ft.) in height. As the tree gets older, it branches less and less and bears more leaves and fruit. The tree typically begins to bear fruit 3–4 years after being planted, and continues to produce for 10–20 more years, depending on the type of plant and the area.

Coffee plants are grown in rows several feet apart. Some farmers plant fruit trees around them or plant the coffee on the sides of hills, because they need specific conditions to flourish. Ideally, Arabica coffee beans are grown at temperatures between 15-24°C and Robusta at 24-30°C and receive between 1500-3000mm (60-120in)of rainfall per year. Heavy rain is needed in the beginning of the season when the fruit is developing, and less later in the season as it ripens.
The harvesting period can be anywhere from three weeks to three months, and in some places the harvesting period continues all year round.


When the fruit is ripe, it is almost always handpicked, using either selective picking, where only the ripe fruit is removed or strip-picking, where all of the fruit is removed from a branch all at once. Because a tree can have both ripe and unripe berries at the same time, one area of crop has to be picked several times, making harvesting the most labor intensive process of coffee bean production.

There are two methods of processing the coffee berries. The first method is wet processing, which is usually carried out in Central America and areas of Africa. The flesh of the berries is separated from the seeds and then the beans are fermented – soaked in water for about two days. This dissolves any pulp or sticky residue that may still be attached to the beans. The beans are then washed and dried in the sun, or, in the case of commercial manufacturers, in drying machines.

The dry processing method is cheaper and simpler, used for lower quality beans in Brazil and much of Africa. Twigs and other foreign objects are separated from the berries and the fruit is then spread out in the sun on cement or brick for 2–3 weeks, turned regularly for even drying. The dried pulp is removed from the beans afterward.

After processing has taken place, the husks are removed and the beans are roasted, which gives them their varying brown color, and they can then be sorted for bagging.
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