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CUL3093: Coffee, Tea and Non-Alcoholic Beverage Specialist (Buckley): Coffee History


  • Arabica coffee is cultivated mostly in Latin America.
  • Robusta coffee is cultivated predominantly in Africa.
  • However, both varieties can be grown in countries such as Indonesia, India and other Asian countries. 
  • Temperatures between 73 degrees and 82 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal for growing coffee.
  • Rainfall between 60 and 80 inches per year is needed in order to grow coffee beans.
  • The time between blooming and maturing is 7 months for Arabica and 9 months for Robusta.

Coffee History

  • Coffee grown worldwide can trace its heritage back centuries to the ancient coffee forests on the Ethiopian plateau. 
  • As word moved east and coffee reached the Arabian peninsula, it began a journey which would bring these beans across the globe.
  • Coffee cultivation and trade began on the Arabian Peninsula.  By the 15th century, coffee was being grown in the Yemeni district of Arabia and by the 16th century it was known in Persia, Egypt, Syria, and Turkey.
  • By the 17th century, coffee had made its way to Europe and was becoming popular across the continent. 
  • In the mid-1600's, coffee was brought to New Amsterdam, later called New York by the British.
  • The Dutch finally got seedlings in the latter half of the 17th century. Their first attempts to plant them in India failed, but they were successful with their efforts in Batavia, on the island of Java in what is now Indonesia.  
  • The plants thrived and soon the Dutch had a productive and growing trade in coffee. They then expanded the cultivation of coffee trees to the islands of Sumatra and Celebes.
  • In 1714, the Mayor of Amsterdam presented a gift of a young coffee plant to King Louis XIV of France. The King ordered it to be planted in the Royal Botanical Garden in Paris.
  • In 1723, a young naval officer, Gabriel de Clieu obtained a seedling from the King's plant and managed to transport it safely to Martinique.  
  • Once planted, the seedling not only thrived, but it’s credited with the spread of over 18 million coffee trees on the island of Martinique in the next 50 years. Even more incredible is that this seedling was the parent of all coffee trees throughout the Caribbean, South and Central America.


  • Coffee beans must be processed (dried or wet) once they are harvested and run through a hulling machine.
  • Coffee beans must also be sorted in order to separate bad beans (unacceptable size or color, over-fermented beans, insect-damaged, etc) from good beans.
  • The coffee beans are now ready to be exported, roasted and ground.

How Coffee is Made (Part 1)

How Coffee is Made (Part 2)


  • Arabica (Coffea arabica)

                  >Accounts for 60% of the world's coffee

               >Grown at high altitudes, in areas with

               plenty of rain and shade.

               >Most delicate of the 4 types of coffee


  • Robusta (Coffea caniphora)

                 >Second most produced coffee bean.

              >Requires a hot climate where rain is


              >Has almost twice the amount of

              caffeine as Arabica beans.

              >The high amount of caffeine in the

              bean protects it from insects and disease.

  • Liberica (Coffea liberica)

                 >Grew in popularity after 90% of the

               Arabica crop was killed off by coffee

               rust in 1890.

               >Grown primarily in the Philippines.

               >Once the Arabica crop rebounded,

               Liberica's popularity dwindled.

               >These beans are larger and more

               irregularly shaped than other types of

               coffee beans.

  • Excelsa (Coffea excelsa)

                  >Grown mostly in Southeast Asia.

               >Accounts for 7% of the world's coffee.

               >Often blended into other coffees in

               order to boost the flavor and complexity.

Arabica vs Robusta

Coffee Overview