The coffee plant belongs to the Rubiaceae family, of the Coffea genre. Of the innumerable species available only two are extensively cultivated: Arabica which is certainly the most widespread and finest, growing at altitudes over 900 meters, and the Robusta which grows in lower plains with a tropical climate.
The coffee production areas are divided into 4 geographic areas: South America (Brazil, Colombia and Peru which produce excellent Arabica coffee); Central and Caribbean America (the finest Arabica coffee is produced between Mexico and Panama), Africa (many African countries produce Robusta coffee) and Asia (Vietnam, India, and Indonesia mainly produce excellent quality Robusta). Arabica is known for its elongated bean with a sinuous groove: its caffeine content varies between 0.9% and 1.7% and ensures a very aromatic coffee, with a sweet full taste and pleasant acidic touch. Robusta is known for its rounded bean with a straight groove: its caffeine content varies between 1.6% and 2.8% and ensures a coffee which is full bodied with a stronger flavor and less aroma.
In hot climate countries, coffee plant flowers bloom after the plentiful rainfalls which occur at regular times of the year. The fruit develops over the course of 8/9 months in the form of a red berry that is similar to a cherry. Its seeds are the green coffee beans that are obtained by various methods of harvesting and drying. The harvesting is carried out by picking the berries – one by one by hand, selecting only the mature ones – or by stripping the berries and leaves from the branch, which is carried out by simple machinery or also by hand. The process can be either dry (unwashed coffee) or through fermentation with water (washed coffee).