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Genealogy of Coffee

The coffee family (Rubiaceae) a member of the Gardenia family is the largest woody plant family in the wet tropics, and contains approximately 13,200 species. Most species live between 28 degrees North and 30 degrees South; so growing areas include Central America, Caribbean, Brazil, West Africa, East Africa and Yemen, Madagascar, India, Indonesia and Vietnam. coffee is a shrub not a tree with a straight trunk, which can survive for about 50 to 70 years. The first flowers appear during the third year, but production is only profitable from the fifth year onwards. 18th century botanists classified Coffee as a member of the Rubiaceous family. Of around sixty different species of coffee tree, two alone dominate world trade - the Coffea arabica, or, more simply, Arabica, was first described by Linnaeus in 1753; which represents 75% of production; From this verity there are and the Coffea Canephora, which is commonly known by the name of the most widespread variety: Robusta and another that is no importance to the trade of coffee, Liberica; it is also robust and low-altitude. It is a minor crop of coffee from Africa and is similar to Robusta. From there Coffee is then sorted into varietals; Arabica has Typica, Bourbon, Caturra, Catuai, Pache Comum, Pache Colis, Catimor, Kent, Mundo Novo, Maragogype, Amarello, and Blue Mountain to name the some the more well known.

Three to four years after the coffee is planted, the root system can extend 20-25 km with the main vertical roots, tap roots, and lateral roots which grow parallel to the ground. The tap roots extend no further than 30-45 cm below the soil surface. Four to eight axial roots may be encountered which often originate horizontally but point downward. The lateral roots can extend 2 m from the trunk. About 80-90% of the feeder root is in the first 20 cm of soil and is 60-90 cm away from the trunk of the coffee tree. (Malavolta, E. Nutrição Mineral, Calagem, Gessagem e Adubação do Careeiro. Summary in English.)

The Coffee’s leafs are elliptical As with all Rubiaceous plants, the leaves grow in pairs on either side of the stem and they are stipulated - that is to say, the two foliaceous organs are to be found at the base of the leaf stalk. The leaves of the Robusta trees are much larger than those of the Arabica.

Coffee has sweetly smelling flowers with five to six petals that grow in clusters in the axils of the coffee leaves. Fruit is produced only in the new tissue. The Coffea Arabica coffee plant is self-pollinating, whereas the Robusta coffee plant depends on cross pollination. About 6-8 weeks after each coffee flower is fertilized, cell division occurs and the coffee fruit remains as a pin head for a period that is dependent upon the climate. The ovaries will then develop into drupes in a rapid growth period that takes about 15 weeks after flowering. During this time the integument takes on the shape of the final coffee bean. After the rapid growth period the integument and parchment are fully grown and will not increase in size. The endosperm remains small until about 12 weeks after flowering. At this time it will suppress, consume, and replace the integument. The remnants of the integument are what make up the silverskin. The endosperm will have completely filled the cavity made by the integument nineteen weeks after flowing. The endosperm is now white and moist, but will gain dry matter during the next several months. During this time the endosperm attracts more than seventy percent of the total photsynthesates produced by the tree. The mesocarps will expand to form the sweet pulp that surrounds the coffee bean. The coffee cherry will change color from green to red about thirty to thirty-five weeks after flowing.