The Origin of Coffee

Coffee Comes From A Tree, Not A Store

It’s hard for those who don’t live in coffee producing areas to imagine the tedious process that goes into creating a cup of java. There’s a lot more to it and opening a can, pouring some grounds into a pot and enjoying the end result.

Coffee itself actually comes from a tree. The beans are found inside the tree’s fruit, which are also called cherries. Not like an ice cream topper, though, these cherries are special and so are the trees they come from.

Coffee trees themselves are evergreens. They have dark leaves that are waxy and grow in pairs. They even produce a fragrant white bloom that many say is as lovely as a jasmine. The trees can grow an impressive 30 feet in height, but when they’re used for producing beans, they’re kept trimmed much closer to the ground for easier harvesting. And considering the fact a coffee tree can remain in production all the time, this makes a whole lot of sense. Scaling a tree that’s 30 feet high would present some problems.

Although coffee is the world’s second biggest commodity, after oil, its production is one that’s pretty tedious. The trees themselves tend to grow only in regions that boast rich soil, mild climates and lots of rain. The tropics are the ideal location. In fact, in America only one state qualifies as a good coffee state and that’s Hawaii.

Trees, when planted, take about four years to begin producing coffee cherries, but once they do, they go non-stop. One tree can have flowers and mature beans at the same time. The trick here is that a single tree generally only produces enough beans for about one and a half pounds of roasted coffee per season. Considering the world exports of “green,” unprocessed coffee top the scales at 7 million tons a year, that means there needs to be a whole lot of trees in production worldwide to meet the demands.

With the demands as high as they are, coffee is a big business. Some 50 countries in the tropical regions grow coffee with literally millions of people employed in the trade. Although many consumers only see the end result, the start is actually a little tree with big aspirations.

From tree to grocery store aisle, coffee itself must go through many different processes to become the drinkable substance consumers the world over crave in abundance.