For any coffee drinker or connoisseur, coffee is the first thing they reach for in the morning and possibly the last drink they consume in the evening. It has become a staple drink in many people’s lives, and for good reason.

Wherever you go, the streets seem to be covered with coffee shops and cafes serving all sorts of different variations, from different parts of the globe and in different atmospheres. A lot would agree, that their day will not start without a cup of this rich dark liquid.

But have you ever stopped to think about where that cup of coffee in your hand comes from, and we don’t mean the region but more the beans? Or how do they end up from a seed to your mug? The guide below will dive into a basic explanation of all thing’s coffee beans. 

Coffee Beans – Where Do They hail from?

Let’s start with the most obvious question – where do coffee beans hail from?

First, let’s get one thing out of the way, these are not a ‘bean’ but rather a ‘seed’. Click here to find out the composition of a bean. The bean (or seed), itself comes from the coffee plant. These plants are grown to become bushes and can grow very tall, and the majority of coffee farmers will keep them trimmed to as high as 5 feet tall, for ease of management.

On these bush-like shrubs, you will find little red berry-looking extensions. These berry-looking extensions are clustered together on one ‘branch’, and the next and so on, and emerge around the entire bush. Inside these, you will find the coffee beans which we see in our kitchens, grocery stores and coffee shops.

From the time they are placed in the ground, to the time they grow into these bushes, will take on average one year. However, this is not the time for harvest, as at this stage there are only producing fragrant white flowers. It is only after 4 years that the berries emerge and can be harvested. Suffice to say, it is not a short process.

Some farmers wait up to 10 years before they extract the seeds from the berries. The longer they leave them to produce, the more valuable they are to farmers. As if that’s not long enough, these shrubs can last for up to 40 years but those that are cared for meticulously can live even longer. One begins to find a sense of appreciation for that coffee mug in their hand every morning, after knowing this.

After however many years the farmer decides they are ready, an indication of which is the turning of the berries color from green to orange to finally a bright red hue, they are picked. Most experienced coffee farmers have a keen eye on knowing when the time is right for the picking. It is a well-thought-out process as if picked too late or too early can have a significant impact on the taste.

Where Coffee is Grown

There is no surprise that this is a process that takes time, effort and most importantly patience. It needs to be well-planned and thought about years in advance. The majority of coffee plants are grown around a region popularly known as the ‘the bean belt’: This is an area located between the tropic of Cancer and Capricorn, on the equator.

Countries such as Ethiopia, Colombia, Brazil, Vietnam and Indonesia are situated and they are the coffee capitals that grow and produce coffee plants and beans to export to the rest of the world.

The reason for this location is because the weather and environmental conditions such as soil type, elevation and climate, are suitable for coffee plants to thrive. Did you know, that the location where these are grown have a huge impact on the taste of a brew?

The Two Many Varieties of The Coffee Plant

The reason for the many varieties of this exceptional wonder of nature is that there are over 120 different varieties of plants and each one of them produces a different bean (or seed). The common ones however that we consume are the Arabica (Coffea Arabica) and the Coffea Canephora which is also known as Robusta.

Sometimes you may find a mix of both in one packaging. The difference between these is in the price, taste and growing conditions. A bit of information about both has been included below:

The Robusta: this type of mainly grown in three countries, namely Vietnam, Africa and Indonesia. Its acidity levels are much lower than the Arabica, and the flavor is not as sweet either, rather it has a stronger and deeper flavor, thus its name ‘Robusta’ i.e. a robust flavor, with a high level of caffeine.

When drinking this, you will note flavors of burnt rubber and wood mostly, and this is why it is mainly used to make an espresso in most coffee shops and can easily produce a rich layer of crema on the top of every bite-sized cup.

Grown in moderate altitudes of about 1000 meters high, these plants require a much longer period of maturity, for some several years is appropriate, but worth the wait. As a cheaper buy than the others, they are also less vulnerable to pests. 

Their seeds are smaller and rounder than their processor and their color is paler too.

The Arabica: this is a popular one and has been said to be the original one that was grown a thousand years ago. The beans are oval and have a deeper center crease than any other type. It has a milder taste and has hints of chocolate, fruits and nuts; however, the acidity levels are higher than others. Suffice to say, it is an intricate combination of flavors.

In price differences, this is the more expensive one. reasons for this is the cultivation methods and weather conditions in which it is grown, which are more delicate and thus the caffeine levels are low. The altitudes it is grown in need to be perfect and is somewhere between 500m to 2500m.  the largest growers and producers of this type of plant are mainly Brazil.

So there you have it, hopefully, now you have a better appreciation for this morning wake-up liquid!