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Interesting Facts About the Coffee Plant: Discovery, Description and Health Benefits

A botany graduate, Nithya Venkat enjoys writing about plants that help sustain life on planet Earth.

Coffee Plant (Coffea arabica)

Coffee Plant (Coffea arabica)

The coffee plant is native to Ethiopia and can be found growing in parts of Asia and Africa. The coffee plant is evergreen belonging to the genus "Coffea" and the family "Rubiaceae."

Coffee is a beverage that is obtained from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant. Coffee cultivation began in the Arabian Peninsula and spread across the world. The word "coffee" comes from the Arabic word for "wine."

The two popular types of coffee are "arabica" and "robusta." Latin America, eastern Africa, Asia, and Arabia are the leading producers of arabica coffee, and Western Central Africa, Southeast Asia, and Brazil are major producers of robusta coffee. Today coffee is the second most important trading commodity after oil.

Discovery of Coffee

A goat herder discovered coffee in Ethiopia in 850 AD. He observed that the goats had a lot of energy and did not sleep at night after eating the coffee fruits. He went to the local monks with his observations; they made a brew with the coffee beans and drank it.

After drinking the brew, the monks realized that they had more energy and could stay up all night and pray. So, the monks spread the word to other Ethiopian monks, and soon it spread across the world. Finally, the beverage reached Italy, and the first European coffee house was opened in 1645.

Flowers of the Coffee Plant

Flowers of the Coffee Plant

Coffea arabica with unripe fruits

Coffea arabica with unripe fruits

Description of the Coffee Plant (Coffea arabica)

Coffea arabica is an evergreen shrub or a small tree that can grow up to five meters when left unpruned. The leaves are simple and are arranged in an alternate and opposite pattern on the branches. They are glabrous, dark green with a shiny surface.

The flowers grow in clusters at the axil of leaves. The flowers are star-shaped, white with a sweet scent.

The fruit is a drupe or a berry surrounded by a pericarp. The immature berries are dull green and turn yellow to bright red during ripening.

Each berry has two ellipsoidal seeds and is pressed together by a flat surface that is deeply grooved with an outer convex surface. Self-pollination and pollination by honeybees occur. Dispersal of seeds is by birds and mammals.

Coffea arabica flourishes in regions with relatively cold climates. The optimum temperature for the best growth is between 15-24 degrees centigrade throughout the year, with rainfall of 1500-2500 mm over nine months.

Ripe Coffee Berries

Ripe Coffee Berries

Coffee Fruit

The coffee fruit (coffee berry) is made of two main parts – the pericarp (outer covering) and the seed. The seed is also referred to as the bean. The pericarp is made of three layers - the exocarp, endocarp, and mesocarp.

Exocarp - The exocarp is the outermost layer of the coffee fruit. It is formed by a single layer of parenchyma cells.

Initially, the coffee berry is green because the exocarp is green due to the presence of chloroplasts that disappear as the fruit matures. The color of the ripe coffee fruit is mostly red or yellow, depending upon the coffee variety. The coffee berry is also referred to as cherry because of its bright red color.

Mesocarp - The mesocarp is the fleshy middle layer of the coffee fruit. In an unripe coffee fruit, the mesocarp is rigid. It softens as the fruit matures. The mesocarp is rich in water, sugar, and pectins.

Endocarp - The endocarp is the innermost layer of the pericarp. The pericarp is the hull that envelops the coffee bean. It is formed of three to seven layers of fibrous sclerenchyma cells. The endocarp hardens as the fruit matures.

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Coffee berries with a single bean in the center are called peaberries. Peaberries are considered sweeter and more flavorful than standard coffee beans.

Anatomy of the Coffee Fruit (Berry)

Anatomy of the Coffee Fruit (Berry)

Transverse and Longitudinal Sections of the Coffee Berry

Transverse and Longitudinal Sections of the Coffee Berry

Coffee Seed

The coffee seed is also referred to as the coffee bean. It is made of silver skin, endosperm, and an embryo.

The silver skin is also called the perisperm or the spermoderm. The endosperm is the food reserve of the seed. The chemical content of the endosperm is vital because it is responsible for the flavor and aroma of roasted coffee. The endosperm consists of large amounts of caffeine.

The embryo is composed of a hypocotyl and two cotyledons. Coffee seeds germinate by epigeal germination. In this type of germination, the hypocotyl elongates and pushes the seed upward above the ground. The original cotyledons stay underground.

Roasted Coffee Beans

Roasted Coffee Beans

Harvesting the Coffee Bean

Coffee beans are harvested by hand or through a mechanized process to produce green beans. The green coffee beans are transported to coffee manufacturing companies where these beans are roasted, graded, packaged, and transported to retail outlets.

Arabica and robusta are the two main varieties of coffee. The robusta variety has a strong, harsh taste with high amounts of caffeine.

The arabica beans are high-quality beans that have more flavor and half the amount of caffeine when compared to the robusta variety.

Cevit cat that poops out coffee for Kopi Luwak

Cevit cat that poops out coffee for Kopi Luwak

Kopi Luwak - World's Most Expensive Coffee

The world’s most expensive coffee is known as kopi luwak or cat poop coffee. Kopi Luwak is produced from coffee beans that have passed through the digestive system of an animal called the Asian Palm Civet. (The civet is a raccoon-like nocturnal mammal native to the forests of Asia.)

The civet consumes the coffee beans fallen on the ground. Farmers collect feces of the civet and wash them thoroughly to obtain clean coffee beans. During the digestion period, the coffee beans remain intact in the intestine of the civet and undergo a unique fermentation process that gives the kopi luwak its unique flavor.

Skin Care with Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds help exfoliate the skin and get rid of dead skin cells revealing a new layer of skin cells. Caffeic acid present in coffee beans is an antioxidant that helps boost collagen levels and reduce premature aging of the skin.

Coffee helps to get rid of puffy eyes. Caffeine stimulates the blood flow and dilates the blood vessels helping to tighten the skin around the eyes and get rid of fluid buildup beneath the eyes.

Coffee grounds can be harsh on sensitive skin and skin affected by acne.

Health Benefits of Coffee

Coffee helps to improve energy levels by blocking an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain that causes a stimulating effect that helps to improve energy levels, mood, and brain function.

Caffeine can boost metabolic rate by 3% - 12%, and this, in turn, helps burn fat. It can be found in many fat-burning supplements.

Coffee helps to increase physical performance. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system causing the fat cells to break down and form fatty acids used to fuel the body and improve physical performance.

Coffee has essential nutrients such as riboflavin (vitamin B2), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), manganese, potassium, and niacin (vitamin B3).

Coffee is enjoyed by people across the world. Drinking three to five cups of coffee per day is considered part of a healthy diet. Exceeding the limit of the recommended 400 mg of caffeine per day for adults can cause irritability, nervousness, and insomnia.


Coffee Plant Characteristics

History of Coffee

Red Cherry to Green Bean

Coffea Arabica

Health Benefits of Coffee

© 2020 Nithya Venkat


Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on October 04, 2020:

Thank you for your visit and comments Kalpana.

Kalpana Iyer from India on October 03, 2020:

I love my cup of coffee! The minute I saw your article title, I knew I had to visit. I am glad I did. This was very informative. A must-read for all coffee lovers.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on August 29, 2020:

Thank you Umesh.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on August 28, 2020:

Excellent article. A lot of information. Well done.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on June 27, 2020:

I love coffee and I have several cups throughout the day. Thank you for your visit and comments Peggy.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 26, 2020:

Thanks for writing this fascinating article about coffee. The blossoms are pretty. I enjoy several cups of coffee each day, particularly in the morning.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on April 24, 2020:

Thank you, Rajan for your visit and comments.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on April 22, 2020:

Reading this was like reading my botany textbook again. Never knew coffee had these nutrients. Thanks for sharing.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on April 07, 2020:

Thank you Dora. The coffee flowers are beautiful and the aroma of coffee is divine.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on April 06, 2020:

Interesting information about the coffee plant, from its discovery to its uses and nutritional ingredients. Never thought that such beautiful flowers and even the colorful ripe fruit was associated with coffee.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on April 05, 2020:

Thank you Eric, I am happy you enjoyed.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on April 05, 2020:

Whahoo, this is great. I loved learning the anatomy the best or maybe about the goats. Sounds right to me.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on April 05, 2020:

I love coffee too, the best coffee is always homemade. Here there is a great South Indian restaurant called Sangeetha. They make the best filter coffee. Thank you for your visit Ann.

Ann Carr from SW England on April 04, 2020:

Interesting that it comes from a word meaning 'wine'. I love coffee and I drink it black. It's difficult to get a decent black coffee in restaurants though!

I have come across some of the health benefits before. It's also good for plants, it seems! Just a little sprinkled around the roots to add nutrients.


Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on April 03, 2020:

Thank you, Devika. Twice a day is a great way to enjoy coffee.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on April 03, 2020:

This is an interesting hub and you covered all aspects on a unique title. A well-researched and informative hub.I drink coffee twice a day.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on April 02, 2020:

Thank you Jason. Thanks to the monks we now have coffee. No kopi luwak for me!

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on April 02, 2020:

Thank youMG Singh.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on April 02, 2020:

Visiting the coffee plantation must have been a great experience. Thank you for your visit.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on April 02, 2020:

Thank you Lorna, I will not try out that coffee too. It is way too gross.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on April 02, 2020:

It is gross! Coffee has health benefits-more reason to drink coffee.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on April 02, 2020:

Thank you manatita44, It must have been great to take part in the coffee ceremonies. Poems on coffee, chocolate and ice cream-that is awesome!!

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on April 02, 2020:

Thank you Louise Powles.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on April 02, 2020:

Thank you Bill. I am fine and I hope you and your family are safe and healthy too.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on April 02, 2020:

Thank you Chitrangada, my family loves coffee. The aroma of coffee is so uplifting and the taste is way out of this world!

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on April 02, 2020:

Jeanette Harris thank you for your visit and I hope you can start drinking coffee again.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on April 02, 2020:

I love coffee Ruby, it has many health benefits and tastes great. A hot cup of coffee is a great way to start the day.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on April 02, 2020:

Thank you, Uma.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on April 02, 2020:

I have never read the history concerning coffee before. I am a coffee drinker and after reading all the health benefits, will continue, perhaps even more than before. The coffee plant is beautiful to look at. It's a shame we can't grow it here. Thank you for sharing this most interesting article.

Jeanette Harris from 11996 Valley Falls Loop Spring Hill Florida, 34609 on April 02, 2020:

I use to drink coffee, I miss it oh thanks for the article how it grows and thanks for the video, If it weren't for a cough I would coffee. So Thanks again

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on April 02, 2020:

A very well written, comprehensive and informative article.

Coffee is my family’s favourite. Didn’t know so many details about this wonderful beverage. Thanks for the education.

The pictures are beautiful and helpful. Thanks for sharing.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 02, 2020:

I write for a coffee company, so I actually know quite a bit about the plant itself. Still you managed to add some knowledge to my reservoir. :) I hope this finds you safe and healthy!

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on April 02, 2020:

As you probably know, I do like my coffee! And this is very interesting information about coffee!

manatita44 from london on April 02, 2020:

What a beautiful Hub! The moment I saw the word 'coffee' it put a smile on my face. Welcome change! You actually did it quite well and I commend you for this article on coffee.

I have had lots of coffee Arabica and when I feel the mystical is too much, I write poems on coffee and chocolates. Ha ha. Even ice cream!

I have been to Ethiopia 6 times! The Sri Chinmoy International does a lot of humanitarian as well as spiritual work abroad. The people are wonderful and their coffee ceremonies are amazing in most parts.

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 02, 2020:

I just can’t imagine how they thought of cat poop coffee. How horrid. I wonder if they get hair balls? I never thought of coffee as actually having nutrients. Good to know. I have never been a coffee drinker.

Lorna Lamon on April 02, 2020:

Such a fascinating article about my favourite drink. The history is really interesting and I wasn't aware that coffee was discovered by a goat herder. Not too sure if I would try the most expensive form, although reading about it made me smile. A great article Nithya.

Liz Westwood from UK on April 02, 2020:

Thank you for such an interesting and informative article. I first learnt about arabica and robusta when I visited a coffee plantation nearly two years ago. It was very interesting.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on April 02, 2020:

It's a fine article both informative and interesting.

Jason Nicolosi from AZ on April 01, 2020:

Super interesting and informative article about coffee. I never knew that the word "coffee" came from the Arabic word for "wine". Very cool. Plus, who know monks were so hip? Drinking coffee to stay up all night to pray. That's so awesome. I love most coffees, but no kopi luwak coffee for me thanks. I'll stick with the cheap stuff. Lol. Stay safe and healthy.

Uma on April 01, 2020:

A thoroughly interesting and enlightening write up!!

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