Coffee-Tree, or Coffea, L. a shrub from twelve to eighteen feet high, and originally a native of Arabia, but is now cultivated in Persia, the East and West Indies, and several parts of America : it is also reared in the botanic gardens of Europe. Its evergreen foliage resembles that of the laurel; and at the base of the leaves appear, twice annually, white fragrant flowers, which are succeeded by a fruit resembling cherries, but of an unpleasant sweetish taste, each containing two kernels, or berries. They grow in clusters ; and, when of a deep red colour, are gathered, and carried to a mill, in order to be manufactured into coffee-bn\eans.
There are three principal sorts of this drug known in commerce : 1. The Arabian, or Mokha coffee, imported from the Levant; and which, on account of its superior flavour, is the most esteemed;
2. The East Indian ; and, 3. The West Indian coffee of the French, English, and Dutch settlements: among the latter sorts, that of Mar-tinico is generally preferred. Beside the importation and convoy-duties, there is an excise laid on ail the coffee consumed in. this country, of Is. 1d. per pound, if import ed from the British colonies in America ; and 2s. 21/2d. if the produce of any other places.
Coffee frequently contracts an unpleasant flavour, when stowed in ships with rum, pepper, or any other article possessing a peculiar smell; a circumstance to which the inferiority of our Jamaica and East Indian coffee may, in a great measure, be attributed. To obviate such dam?ge, the berries ought to be well dried in the sun, before they are shipped in separate vessels, or properly secured, if they are imported together with other merchandize. But, when they have once acquired a disagreeable flavour, it will be necessary to pour boding water over them, and afterwards to dry them completely in the open air, previously to their being roasted. The colour of a watery infusion, may also serve as a tolerable test for ascertaining die-quality of coffee ; for if cold water, after standing for several hours over the raw berries, acquire a deep citron colour, we may conclude that the coffee has not been damaged, or adulterated.
Since the introduction of coffee into Europe, in the Kith century, various substitutes have been devised for this drug; such as acorns (which see), beet, succory-root, scorzonera, etc. Among the different species of the beet-root, the beta ciela v. albissima, or the root of scarcity, has been preferably recommended commended for this purpose; and, after having previously extracted. the saccharine particles, it ought to be carefully dried and roasted over a moderate fire. It seems, however, doubtful whether the expence and labour necessarily attendant on such preparations, may be adequate to the advantage thus obtained : hence we are of opinion, that the most effectual method of rendering coffee cheaper, and preventing its importation, at least for home consumption, would be that of rearing this hardy shrub in our own "climate. To encourage those who are desirous of making this patriotic experiment, we shall communicate the following parti-culars; on the authenticity of which the reader may fully depend : - A nobleman in Germany found, in a bag of raw coffee, twenty green' berries, resembling oblong Cher-' ries, and each of which contained two beans. In March 1788, he' planted them in a common garden-bed, two inches deep. In April it snowed, and was so cold, that the windows were covred with ice, for two days. Notwithstanding this unfavourable prospect, five of the berries appeared above ground in the latter part of June, and all the others previous to the middle of July. They grew rapidly, being in a shady situation, and a soil somewhat sandy, but well manured. In September of the same year, they had attained a height of about six inches, and dropped their small leaves about Michaelmas. During the winter, he covered them with a little hay, and afterwards with snow ; both of -which were removed in the fine weather of April. In this simple manner, they were defended against the severity of German winters 5 and in the fifth year, four of the little trees pro-' duced together seventy-six ben By the inattention of the gardener,' two of the plants died in the very hard frosts of 1798 ; yet the remaining eighteen were all in blos-som the ensuing spring, and yielded, in autumn three pounds and a half of coffee-berries; the flavour of which was not inferior to that imported from the island of Marti-nico.
With respect to the medicinal properties of coffee, it is in general excitant and stimulating, though we doubt whether it relaxes the animal fibres, as has by some authors been supposed. Its more or less wholesome eftfcet greatly depends on the climate, as well as the age, constitution and other pe culiarities of the individual. Hence, it cannot be recommended to children, or persons of a hot, choleric, nervous, or pthisical habit; nor will it be so safe and useful in warm as in cold and temperate climates; but to the phlegmatic and sedentary, a cup of coffee, one or two hours after a meal, or, which is still better, one hour before it, may be of ser-vice to promote digestion, and pre-vent or remove a propensity to sleep. In cases of spasmodic asth-ma, hypochondriasis, scrophula, diarrhoea, agues, and particularly against narcotic poisons, such as opium, hemlock, etc. coffee often produces the best effects: nor is' there a domestic remedy, better adapted to relieve periodical head-' achs which proceed from want of tone, or from debility of the stomach.