The Coffee Plant
What does the coffee plant look like? The leaves are wide, dark green and very glossy, they look quite similar to that of a camellia. The blossoms of the coffee plant are small, white, star shaped flowers that smell very much like jasmine.
Arabica and Robusta- The coffee plant belongs the plant genus Coffea & there are more than sixty different varieties. However most of the coffee consumed is either Coffea Arabica (Arabica beans) or Coffea Robusta (Robusta beans).
Coffee plants originate from countries around the equator, the two most popular coffee types are Arabica and Robusta. Worldwide there are about 9 million arabica plants and 3 million robusta plants. Many of our products use a special blend of robusta & arabica beans to create the unique Douwe Egberts taste.
Origins of Arabica - As it's name suggests, you'd be excused for thinking arabica beans are Arabian in origin. In fact it owes its name to an Arabic tradesman who brought the coffee plant from Ethiopia to the Yemen.
Nowadays, arabica coffee plants are mainly grown in Central & Southern America. Arabica coffee beans are known for their mild flavour & delicate aroma, generally they produce a lower yield of beans than the robusta plant, therefore tend to be more expensive. In contrast robusta beans have a stronger and more powerful taste.
The Coffee Bean - A ripe coffee berry looks very much like a cranberry. In some parts of Africa, mainly in the Ivory Coast & Uganda, coffee plants growth wild & depending on the variety can grow to as high as 15 metres. On coffee plantations the plants are not allowed to grow any higher than 3 metres, this gives a higher yield of berries & makes harvesting an easier task.
One coffee plant can produce berries for up to 25 years! Each bean has its own taste & this can vary depending on the seasons or origin of the bean. The Douwe Egberts Master Blenders use their experience & expertise to profile each batch of beans & blend them together to create the unmistakable Douwe Egberts taste that is loved the world over.
Blossom & Harvest - Depending on the altitude and the weather conditions, the period between the coffee plant blossoming & the berries being ready to harvest is around eight to nine months. The plants often bloom for six to eight weeks, so it's quite common to find ripe & unripe berries on the same branch.
It's vital that the plants are tended to regularly during bloom to ensure the optimum harvest, as the beans are picked by hand, it's very labour intensive & probably the most valuable step in the entire coffee process.
1kg per Plant - One coffee plant can produce up to 2000 beans a year, this translates to 1kg of raw coffee per year, per plant. With modern agricultural techniques we are able to harvest about 3000 - 4000 kg's of coffee per hectare of coffee plants