THE COFFEE PLANT
Coffee traces its biological heritage to a genus of plants known as Coffea, a native of the highlands of Ethiopia in East Africa, where it still grows in the wild. It has been estimated that there are anywhere from 25 to 100 species of coffee plants, but in the commercial coffee industry, there are two important coffee species, the highly regarded arabica and the less sophisticated and more hardy robusta. The coffee plant is an ever-green small tree that is pruned to shrub size in cultivation and prefers a rich soil and mild temperatures, with frequent rain and shaded sun. It is covered with dark green, waxy leaves with red ‘coffee cherries’ growing along the tree’s branches. Because it grows in a continuous cycle, it is not unusual to see flowers, green fruit and ripe fruit simultaneously on a single tree.