As you walk down the coffee aisle of a supermarket or a store, the one thing that you cannot miss is Coffee Arabica. “Coffee Arabica” also known as Arabian coffee originated in Africa, is believed to be the first species of coffee to be cultivated. Today, deemed as the world’s most popular coffee, it represents 60% of the global production of coffee coming from 50 different species. Some of these varieties are distinctive of specific coffee-growing regions while other varieties are grown in many areas around the world.
Two major varieties which are considered as one of the first coffee varieties are
- Typica: It’s known for its clean and sweet taste with a high cup quality. Flavor notes are one of elegance, flowers, fruits, and complex flavours.
- Bourbon: The name Bourbon looks like a well-known alcoholic beverage, but in this case, it’s a coffee bean that’s pronounced Bor-BONN. Flavour notes include chocolate and fruit overtones.
Typica and Bourbon are integral to the coffee variety family tree, they are grown worldwide and are parents to many popular coffee varieties. They are extensively cross bred with other varieties to create several varieties of Arabica around the world. A few of the famous cross bred varieties are Geisha, Mocha, Caturra, Catimor, Catuai, Jackson, Jember, Kona, Maracatu, Mundo Novo, Pacas, Pache, Villa Sarchi, Maragogype, Villalobos, Jamaican Blue Mountain
Arabica takes about seven years to mature fully and needs a climate that is cool but not too cold. It requires plenty of rain, good soil, and a high altitude that produces a fruitier flavor. 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 temperatures must remain mild, ideally between 59 - 75 degrees Fahrenheit, with about 60 inches of rainfall a year. Arabica trees are costly to cultivate because the ideal terrain tends to be steep and access is difficult. Most of these conditions are met by farms located either in South America, Central America, and Africa. The top coffee producing countries include Guatemala, Brazil, Mexico, Honduras, Uganda, and Ethiopia. Two to four years after planting, the arabica plant produces small, white, highly fragrant flowers. After pruning, berries begin to appear. The berries are dark green like the leaves until they begin to ripen, at first to yellow and then light red and finally darkening to a glossy, deep red. Though the ripened cherries can be strip harvested using the machinery, it is considered best to handpick the selective cherries as they individually ripen.
As Merlot is to wine connoisseurs Coffea Arabica is to coffee lovers. Made from Arabica beans, it has an intense, intricate aroma and for coffee drinkers, it can be described to have a sweetness that is light and airy. Based on the region from which it is cultivated it is reminiscent of flowers, fruit, honey, chocolate, caramel, or other dark and nutty sweets. Its caffeine content never exceeds 1.5 percent by weight resulting in the mild sweet note. The roast you choose will affect the degree to which you notice the flavors. Storing coffee beans properly so they stay nice and fresh is a great way to help preserve those yummy flavor notes. Most of the coffee beans you see at the grocery store, market, coffee shop, and cafe – are Arabica coffee. If coffee isn’t labeled 100% Arabica, there’s a good chance that it’s a blend of Arabica and Robusta. Robusta beans are often rich, dark, and bold in flavor. Dark tones and high caffeine content add rich flavor and a complex flavor palette to the blend. A handful of Robusta beans may just be the thing to balance the light tones of an Arabica roast. Some brands will mix Arabica and Robusta coffee beans, especially espresso blends. But the majority is Arabica coffee. And if you are starting to discover your passion for coffee, coffea arabica would be the safest bet to start with.