Ten Facts About the Coffee Plant Any Aficionado Should Know
Posted on October 16th 2014 by Maddie
How much do you know about where your coffee comes from?
Did you know the coffee plant is a tall evergreen? Or, that coffee beans are a seed found in the centre of a cherry?
Coffee is the by-product of intensive labour by many, many hands. The green beans Kicking Horse® Coffee roasts have had quite the journey before arriving at our facility in Invermere, BC.
The evolution of the bean to your favourite beverage is heavily impacted by the life of the coffee plant.
So without further ado, here is a list of ten things you really should know about the Coffee Plant:
- From the Rubiaceae family, the coffee plant is a woody perennial that can grow over 20 feet in height. Typically though, they are pruned to around 8-10 feet.
- The fruit of the coffee plant is called a cherry. It is made up of outer skin, mucilage, parchment skin, silver skin, and finally two beans.
- Growing conditions can greatly affect the quality of the beans.
- Ideal conditions include hilly ground, shade, natural mists and cloud cover. Shade provides even temperature and reduces weeds. Leaf cover from canopy acts as mulch as well as providing protection from wind and assisting with biodiversity.
- Arabica beans are grown over 3,000 feet, and are typically higher quality. They’re more aromatic, greater flavor and the choice of the specialty coffee industry. Kicking Horse® Coffee only uses Arabica beans.
- Each coffee plant has an annual yield of 1-2 pounds of roasted coffee. Putting that into perspective, it takes 2,000 cherries (5 lbs) to produce one pound of roasted coffee. In one year, a two-cup-a-day drinker of coffee will consume the annual harvest of 18 coffee trees.
- Cherries are ideally picked when the fruit is juicy and sweet. If picked too early and cherries are still green, the resulting coffee will be sour and thin. If picked too ripe, green beans may spoil or begin to ferment.
- Coffee fruit ripens at different rates and so has to be selectively picked by hand.
- The same section might be picked three of four times during harvest. Good pickers can pick up to 100-400 lbs per day. All the green beans Kicking Horse® Coffee uses are handpicked and only the ripest cherries are chosen.
- It takes four to five years to produce the first crop of a coffee plant, while the land on which it grows will produce fruit for about 25 years.
These ten facts are a great starting point for understanding where coffee begins, marking the beginning of the journey coffee takes from bean to cup. It’s the first step on the chain to becoming the beverage we all love.
What we drink is a direct result of dedicated farming and meticulous processing and handling. All these factors impact the quality of the beans before they are even roasted and packaged for distribution.