For many of us, every morning starts off with the best beverage in the world: coffee. Coffee makes our mornings much easier, boosts our afternoons, and may even have kick-started the Enlightenment. And one of the most popular varieties of coffee is Arabica.
Arabica coffee creates a rich, smooth, dark blend that delivers a perfect boost of caffeine without getting bitter. But for as much of it as we drink, there’s still a lot most of us don’t know about Arabica coffee beans. Read on to learn some more about the beans that provide you with the perfect start to every day.
1. Arabica Coffee Is Self-Pollinating
Plants require pollination to survive; it’s now they reproduce, and it’s how genetic traits of the plant get passed down. Many plants use cross-pollination, where pollinators carry pollen from one plant to a different plant. This means more genetic mixing and greater variation in plants.
But Arabica coffee plants are self-pollinating, not cross-pollinating. This means they use pollen from themselves to reproduce, which keeps passing down the same genes. This quality can help keep the quality of Arabica coffee beans more consistent down through the generations.
2. Your Coffee Beans Are Seeds
Most of us refer to coffee beans, but the truth is these aren’t beans at all. In fact, they’re seeds that sit at the center of a fruit. This fruit is called a cherry, and the coffee beans sit at the middle of it like the pit in a peach or a plum.
Coffee cherries ripen to an orange or red color and have a skin like a grape. These cherries are edible and taste a little like a combination of raspberry, cranberry, actual cherry, and raisins. In fact, legend has it that the way humans discovered coffee in the first place was that a goatherd noticed his goats eating those cherries and then dancing around with a lot of energy.
3. Arabica Coffee Has Forty-Four Chromosomes
All living organisms have DNA, and DNA is made up of chromosomes. These chromosomes are what determine things like the color of our eyes, the texture of our hair, and how tall we grow to be. Chromosomes come in pairs, and other coffee beans have eleven pairs of chromosomes or twenty-two in total.
But Arabica coffee has double the chromosomes of most coffee. That’s right, these beans are packed with forty-four chromosomes, and that may be part of the reason this coffee is so much better than other strains. More chromosomes mean more subtle flavorings and more qualities that can be improved upon.
4. These Beans Are Lower in Caffeine
It may sound strange to say that Arabica coffee beans being lower in caffeine than other beans is a good thing. At most, each Arabica bean has 2 two percent caffeine per volume. But when it comes to making truly fine coffee, this lower caffeine can improve your experience.
Coffee is already high in caffeine, and coffee that’s more caffeinated can leave you feeling jittery and hyper. Arabica gives you the lift you need without making you feel shaky and miserable. It also makes your coffee taste smoother and gives it just the right level of acidity.
5. Your Coffee Comes from on High
We all know coffee has to come from heaven, and while that may be a bit of an exaggeration, Arabica coffee does grow best at high altitudes because the coffee beans are so fragile. These beans like to go best between two and six thousand feet above sea level.
But that’s not all – coffee bean shrubs can get big. In fact, in the wild, these plants can get as high as 40 feet tall. But the flowers that turn into the coffee cherries that give us the drink we rely on so much.
6. One Plant Makes About a Pound of Coffee
With a forty-foot shrub growing fruits that contain two beans apiece, you might think that one coffee plant can produce a lot of coffee. But in fact, it takes one coffee plant a full year to make about one or two pounds of beans. There are 8,000 beans in one pound, which means it takes about 4,000 cherries to get you a couple of weeks of joe.
If you were going to grow all your own coffee for a year, you would need to keep eighteen coffee plants. And you’d need to be very patient; Arabica coffee plants take about seven years to mature. But if the plant is properly cared for, it’ll keep producing coffee for about twenty-five years.
7. The Cherries Are Harvested Individually
Taking care of coffee plants is a lot of work, but harvesting them is almost as strenuous. Each cherry needs to be harvested at the perfect time. Too soon, and the coffee will be thin and sour, but too late and they could start to ferment.
The cherries on a coffee plant don’t necessarily ripen at the same time, so you can’t pick a day and harvest all the berries. Instead, as the berries start to ripen, farmers have to inspect each berry every day. When the berries get ripe, they must be harvested individually, which is part of why Arabica coffee is so expensive.
Learn More About Arabica Coffee Beans
Arabica coffee is one of the most popular varieties in the world, and it’s easy to see why. This bean, which comes from high up in the mountains and is individually picked, offers a rich, unique beverage experience. So next time you’re brewing your morning coffee, remember some of these fun facts about where those Arabica coffee beans came from.
If you’d like to get some Arabica coffee, check out the rest of our site at Intercontinental Coffee Trading. We are specialty importers of fine green coffee, and this holiday season, a dollar from every sale goes towards Feeding San Diego. Check out our coffees and start stepping up your morning brew today.