Arabica coffee beans are the Adam or Eve of all coffees, and they may be the first coffee bean ever made. Arabica is the main coffee beans currently used, accounting for about 70% of global production.
The history of beans
Its origins can be traced back to around 1,000 BC in the highlands of the kingdom of Kefa, in present-day Ethiopia. In Kefa, the Oromo tribe ate the beans, crushed it, and mixed it with fat to make ping-pong-sized spheres. These spheres were consumed for the same reasons coffee is consumed today, as a refreshing stimulant.
Arabica coffee beans were cultivated and spread around the 7th century, when the bean crossed the Red Sea from Ethiopia to what is today Yemen and the Lower Arabian Peninsula, hence the name "Arabica".
A scholar from Arabia, the first to document the entire process of roasting coffee beans into coffee, wrote in his book that the caffeine in coffee can make people feel refreshed and prolong working hours. Yemen's Arabs are innovators in brewing beer from baked beans. It was first spread among Egyptians and Turks, and then slowly spread around the world.
Considered the Merlot of coffee, Arabica is low in caffeine and has a mild flavor that is arguably sweet, light and airy for coffee drinkers, just like the mountains it comes from. Famed Italian coffee grower Ernesto Illy explains in the June 2002 issue of Scientific American, “Arabica, which originated in the Ethiopian highlands, is a medium- to low-yielding, rather delicate tree from five to six meters tall that requires a temperate climate and considerable growing care. Commercially grown coffee bushes are pruned to a height of 1.5 to 2.0 meters. Coffee made from arabica beans has an intense, intricate aroma that can be reminiscent of flowers, fruit, honey, chocolate, caramel or toasted bread. Its caffeine content never exceeds 1.5 percent by weight. Because of its superior quality and taste, arabica sells for a higher price than its hardy, rougher cousin.”
Arabica coffee takes about seven years to fully mature. Its growing environment is more demanding, and it usually grows best at high altitudes, but can grow below sea level. The plant can tolerate low temperatures, but not frost. Two to four years after planting, Arabica plants will produce small white flowers that are fragrant. The sweet aroma is somewhat similar to the sweetness of jasmine.
After pruning, berries begin to appear. The berries are dark green like leaves before beginning to ripen, yellow at first, then light red, and finally darkened to a glossy dark red. At this point, they are called "cherries" and are ready to be picked. The berries are prized for the beans inside, there are usually two coffee beans per berry.
Most of the coffees rated as premium are high-quality mild Arabica varieties. The best growing regions include Jamaica Blue Mountains, Colombian Supremo, Tarazu, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Antigua and Ethiopian Sidamo. Typically, espresso is made from a blend of Arabica and Robusta coffee beans. Robusta coffee beans account for 30% of global coffee bean production.
SATURNBIRD Coffee selects premium arabica beans