So good they should be illegal



A coffee bean is a seed of the coffee plant, and is the source for coffee. It is the pit inside the red or purple fruit often referred to as a cherry. Just like ordinary cherries, the coffee fruit is also a so-called stone fruit. Even though the coffee beans are seeds, they are referred to as ‘beans’ because of their resemblance to true beans. The fruits – coffee cherries or coffee berries – most commonly contain two stones with their flat sides together. A small percentage of cherries contain a single seed, instead of the usual two. This is called a “peaberry“. The peaberry is more unusual occurring only between 10 and 15% of the time, and it is a fairly common (yet scientifically unproven) belief that they have more flavour than normal coffee beans. Like Brazil nuts (a seed) and white rice, coffee beans consist mostly of endosperm.


The two most economically important varieties of coffee plant are the Arabica and the Robusta; 75-80% of the coffee produced worldwide is Arabica and 20% is Robusta. Arabica beans consist of 0.8-1.4% caffeine and Robusta beans consist of 1.7-4% caffeine. As coffee is one of the world’s most widely consumed beverages, coffee beans are a major cash crop, and an important export product, counting for over 50% of some developing nations’ foreign exchange earnings.


The coffee tree averages from 5–10 m (16–33 ft) in height. As the tree gets older, it branches less and less and bears more leaves and fruits. Coffee plants are grown in rows several feet apart. Some farmers plant fruit trees around them or plant the coffee on the sides of hills, because they need specific conditions to flourish. Ideally, Arabica coffee beans are grown at temperatures between 15 and 24 °C (59 and 75 °F) and Robusta at 24–30 °C (75–86 °F) and receive between 15 and 30 cm (5.9 and 11.8 in) of rainfall per year. Heavy rain is needed in the beginning of the season when the fruit is developing, and less later in the season as it ripens.