Coffee Trees

There are approximately 60 types of coffee trees, but only ten of these species are mass cultivated in the world. The most widespread are: Coffea Arabica, Coffea Canephora, Coffea Liberica

Of these three, Coffea arabica is the most cultivated (90%) and valued of the species.

Coffea Arabica

The tree measures between 3 and 5 meters high ( 9 to 15 feet) and can grow to about 10 meters (33 feet) in height. However, during cultivation the tree is pruned to around 2 meters in height (6.6 feet), which permits regular flowering and easier harvesting. Depending on the variety of the tree, the trunk is between 8 and 10 centimeters (3 to 4 inches) in diameter. The roots of the tree reach 1.50 meters (5 feet) in length. The leaves of the tree vary in color depending upon the stage they are in: a yellow-copper when first budding, clearer green when young, and a dark green when mature. After three or four years, a tree reaches adult age and is then able to produce flowers, which then produce the berries. The flowers are white, bloom in groups of 8 to 15 bunches, and emit a light fragrance, reminescent to that of Jasmine. The flower remains only long enough to be pollinated and begin gestation, which lasts close to 7 months and produces a fruit called a cherry. Numerous varieties exist within the species Arabica, due to mutations caused by ecological differences in the regions where the trees are grown. Some of these varieties, all of which are cultivated in Colombia, are Typica, Comun, Bourbon, Caturra, Colombia, and Maragogipe.

National, Typica Cramer, Typica Krug

Very common in Brazil, it is also known as amarella or botucat. The plant develops into a tree smaller than that of the normal arabica, bears yellow fruits, has a high caffeine level and is very resistant to frosts.


Propagated by the French and favored in their island Reunion, this variety was raised from seeds imported directly from Saudi Arabia. This variety has different names depending on where it is grown: Java in Malasia, Nacional in Colombia and Brazil, etc. It will grow into a slender tree if not topped, has broad leaves, of which the bronze coloring is absent from the young leaves. This variety is appreciated for high quality and its large yields.


Derived from the Bourbon variety. A smaller tree natural to Minas Gerais, Brazil, this variety is unique in that it doesn't require shade. Widely cultivated in Colombia, its crop is of exceptional quality


Discovered in the Brazilian township, Maragogipe in 1870. The plant is a gigantic form of the common arabian coffee and known to resist disease better than the other varieties. After it bears its first heavy crop, it is difficult to keep it shapely and subsequent yields are very small.

Coffea Canephora

This species originates in Africa and can be cultivated between 300 and 1,000 meters of altitude. The tree is between 5 and 8 meters (16 to 26 feet) in height, the leaves are a clear green and the cherries are a flaming red. It produces a higher yield than the Arabica, although the bean is smaller. The two main varieties are Kouillou and Robusta.


Cultivated in Western Africa, in Madagascar, Uganda, etc., the beans are small and irregular, and the flowers are white or pale pink.


The most common variety in Africa and Asia, the tree measures between 2 and 5 meters (6.6 to 16 feet) in height. The tree blossoms three times a year, with each one lasting only a few days. The berries are smaller, caffeine content is higher than in arabicas, and, when roasted, the bean is less aromatic

Coffea Liberica Boll

Native to tropical Africa, Liberia and the Ivory Coast, and also grown in Guinea, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Zaire and the north of Angola. The tree reaches a height of 20 meters (66 feet), has very large leaves and berries double the size of the Arabicas. It grows well in high altitudes and is resistant to droughts and diseases. Its flavor is not greatly valued, causing the Coffea canephora to slowly replace it. The main varieties are Worensis and Grandifolia.

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