This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(from the Arabian name for the drink, itself conjecturally derived from Caffa, a district in southern Abyssinia). Rubiacex. Woody plants, producing the coffee of commerce; as a horticultural subject, sometimes cultivated for the ornamental appearance; and also in collections of economic plants.
Shrubs or small trees, natives of tropical Asia and Africa: leaves mostly opposite, rarely in whorls of 3, elliptical, acute, usually coriaceous and glossy: flowers clustered in the axils, cream or cream-white and fragrant; calyx-limb 5-, rarely 4-, parted, the corolla salver-shaped, the corolla-tube cylindrical, the throat sometimes villous; stamens inserted in or below the throat of the corolla: fruit a berry; seeds 2, horny, which are the well-known coffee of commerce. - From 25-40 species, in tropical Africa and Asia, the species not yet clearly defined, nor well understood horticulturally.
Coffee-production is based mostly on C. arabica and C. liberica, both widely cultivated throughout the tropics, and in greenhouses northward. The coffee industry, one of the most important industries in the tropics, reaches the enormous figure of $200,000,000 or sometimes a little more than this. See the treatment in Vol. II Cyclo. Amer. Agri.
The coffee plant and its product. (T. B. McClelland.)
The main source of coffee is Coffea arabica, an evergreen shrub, growing 10 to 15 feet high. The younger plants have one main trunk or stem, but from this others frequently develop later, which are similar in form and habit to the first. The lateral branches are opposite, horizontal and in pairs, very rarely in whorls of three. The pairs of branches are in whorls on the main stem. The leaves, which are opposite and borne in pairs, are 4 to 7 centimeters (about 1 1/2 to 3 inches) broad by 10 to 20 centimeters (4 to 8 inches) long, the length being usually slightly more than two and a half times the breadth. They are elliptical, acuminate at tip and attenuate at base. There are eight to eleven pairs of main lateral veins. In the axils where the veins join the midrib are small pores, open below and slightly swollen above. The tip of the leaf is frequently curled and is rather abruptly contracted. The margin is entire and wavy. The leaves, which are perennial, are a dark glossy green, and though thin are firm in texture.
There are usually two or three large blossomings and several small ones extending over a period of several months. The pure white and delicately fragrant starlike flowers are borne on very short pedicels in one to four axillary clusters of one to four flowers each. These flower-clusters are subtended by two to four common calyculi. The tube of the corolla is 8 to 10 millimeters (about 1/3 to 2/5 inch) long. Its segments are about 7 millimeters (nearly 1/3 inch) broad by 15 to 18 millimeters (3/5 to 3/4 inch) long. The style is 17 to 22 millimeters (2/3 to nearly 1 inch) long. The stigma is two-branched, each branch being 5 millimeters (about 1/5 inch) long. The linear anthers, corresponding in number to the petals, are 9 millimeters long and are supported on filaments 5 to 7 millimeters long. The size varies somewhat with favorable or unfavorable conditions. The short annular calyx with its denticulate limb is so small as almost to escape notice.
Under Coffea arabica are included a number of varieties quite distinct in growth and product from the other varieties of the same species, such as Maragogipe, Mocha, Pointed Bourbon (sometimes classified as C. laurina) and others.
Maragogipe coffee, as its name indicates, is of Brazilian origin, having been discovered in 1870 near the town from which its name is derived. On account of the large size of the bean it has commanded a fancy price on the market, but this variety is considered to be a small yielder. The flowers, fruits, and leaves are all larger than the ordinary Arabian coffee and the leaves curl noticeably. Its flavor is not considered superior to that of the ordinary Arabian coffee.
Mocha coffee, with its shorter internodes and smaller flowers, fruits, and leaves is a distinct variety. The "beans" are much less oval and are more rounded and hold a high reputation for quality. Normally two coffee "beans" or seeds are produced in each red cherry-like drupe. Some drupes, however, contain three beans and others only one. When only one is formed it is called "peaberry," and is oval in shape instead of being flat on one side and convex on the other as is the bean when two are produced. The peaberries are sorted out by machinery and are sold at a fancy price on account of being a little different in appearance from the other coffee, but any claim to superiority of flavor is without foundation. There is one variety of coffee that produces a number of beans in each drupe, and the corolla-segments may range up to ten. As the number of beans increases, the size and the attractiveness of appearance decrease, so that this is a very undesirable variation.
The fruits require six and one-half to seven months to mature. The ripening of the coffee, in relation to the blossoming, extends over several months. Where the West Indian or wet process for curing the coffee is followed, the ripe cherries are picked every fortnight. While fresh they are passed through a machine which pulps and separates the coffee in its parchment from the pulp. The former is then fermented and washed to remove a slimy covering. After thorough drying in the sun or in heated driers, the parchment coffee may be stored or it may have the thin brittle parchment or horn-skin and the silver-skin removed by special machinery. If desired it may be further polished and artificially colored. After being sized and having the better grades cleaned of inferior beans, it is ready for roasting. In some places where the dry or old preparation is followed the coffee is allowed to ripen and much of it to fall from the trees and lie on the ground until all can be collected in one picking. It is then dried in the sun without preliminary preparation.
Fig. 1024. Coffea arabica. (X 1/4)
Although coffee has been used as a beverage for hundreds of years by a few persons, as a world beverage it is comparatively modern. In 1825 the estimated production did not exceed 218,255,400 pounds. In 1906-1907 the production was estimated as 3; 164,041,-920 pounds, or an increase of 1,350 per cent in eighty-one years.
Brazil produces about three-fourths of the world's coffee crop. Then follow in order of importance Venezuela, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Haiti, Salvador, Dutch East Indies, Porto Rico, British India, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and other countries.
In Bulletin No. 79, Bureau of Statistics, United States Department of Agriculture, may be found a very extensive bibliography of coffee. In the Netherlands the per capita consumption is more than 15 pounds; in the United States under 11 1/2 pounds; in Japan .003 pound.
A. Corolla 5-parted, sometimes 4-parted. B. segments of corolla narrow: leaves oblong, 4. - 5 in. long, 1 1/2in. wide. arabica, Linn. Common or Arabian Coffee. Fig. 1024. Leaves 3-6 in. long, rather thin, oblong, nearly 3 times as long as broad, more or less abruptly contracted near the apex to a point about 1/2in. long: segments of corolla over twice as long as wide: fruit a 2-seeded, deep crimson berry, but the "berries" or beans of commerce are the seeds. The commercial varieties of coffee are based largely on the size, shape, color and flavor of the seeds, and hence the fruit is very variable, but the typical fruit may be considered to be oval and 1/2in. long. Indigenous in Abyssinia, Mozambique and Angola; supposed to have been intro, in early Mohammedan times from Abyssinia to Arabia, whence it became known to Europeans in the 16th century. This species furnished until recently the entire commercial product. B.M. 1303. Gng. 6:55. - A variegated form, variety varie-gata, Hort., is more showy than the type. It is offered by dealers in tropical plants. As coffee grows wild in Africa it is a small tree 10-15 ft. high, with the trunk 9-12 in. thick at the base.
Often cult, under glass in the N. for its economic interest, and in S. Calif, it is a good outdoor ornamental shrub, esteemed for its shining leaves, fragrant white flowers, and red berries.
bb. segments of corolla wide: leaves ovate. bengalensis, Roxbg. Bengal Coffee. Leaves ovate, barely twice as long as broad, acute, but not having a long, abrupt point: flowers in 2's or 3's; segments of corolla barely twice as long as wide. E. Indies, Malaya. B.M. 4917. - This has much showier flowers than C. arabica. A small shrub with glabrous, dichotomous branches. Mts. of N. E. India, whence it was brought to Calcutta and much cult, for a time. It is now neglected, the berries being of inferior quality and the plants not productive enough.
aa. Corolla 6-, 7-, or 8-parted.
B. Flowers in dense clusters or glomes: leaves short-pointed. liberica, Hiern. Liberian Coffee. Leaves longer than in C. arabica, and wider above the middle, with a proportionately shorter and less abruptly contracted point: flowers 15 or more in a dense cluster; corolla-segments usually 7. tropical Africa Trans. Linn. Soc. 11.1:171 (1876). G.C. II. 6:105. R.H. 1890, pp. 104-5. - Said to be more robust and productive than C. arabica, with berries larger and of finer flavor. It is a more tropical plant than the common coffee, and can be grown at lower levels. Zanguebariae, Lour. (C. Zanzibarensis, Hort.). A glabrous, erect, closely branched shrub or small tree, to 6 ft., the branches ashy: leaves ovate or obovate, obtuse or shortly pointed, 2-4 in. long, 3/4 - l 1/2 in- wide, the lateral veins about 6 pairs: flowers white, axillary, in dense clusters; corolla-lobes 6-7: berry red, turning black.
bb. Flowers solitary 'or in 3's: leaves long-pointed, 2 1/2-5 in. long. stenophylla, Don. Leaves 4-6 in. long, 1-1 1/2 in. broad, narrower than in C. arabica, with a relatively longer and more tapering point: corolla-segments usually 9. W. Africa B.M. 7475. - This is said to yield berries of finer flavor than the Liberian coffee, and quite as freely, but the bush is longer in coming into bearing. This is a promising rival to the C. arabica of commerce. Seeds have been distributed by British botanical gardens, but are not known to be for sale at present in Amer.
C. madagascariinsis, Hort., and C. robusta, Hort.,, are names of uncertain status. -
Wilhelm Miller. N. Taylor. †