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Coffee is a beverage obtained by grinding the seeds of some species of small tropical trees belonging to the genus Coffea, part of the botanical family Rubiaceae, a group of angiosperms that includes over 600 genera and 13,500 species.
Although within the genus Coffea are identified and described over 100 species, commercially different species of origin are presented as different varieties of coffee and the most common are the '"Arabian" (Coffea arabica) and "robust" (Coffea canephora ).


Cultivated species

The species of coffee cultivated on a large scale are three (Coffea arabica, Coffea canephora and to a lesser extent, Coffea Liberica). A dozen are grown locally.
The species differ in taste, caffeine content, and adaptability to different climates and soils from the original. Recall that all the cultivated species still exist in areas of origin, in the wild. But it is also true that were artificially created many new varieties.

Plant Coffea arabica in Brazil with fruits in various stages of maturation

Main species

Arabica. The species was first used is Coffea arabica, a plant native to Ethiopia (where coffee is called buna), the south-eastern Sudan and northern Kenya, and later spread to Yemen, where, however, is were the first traces of the historical consumption of the beverage, back in 1450 between the followers of Sufism.
The seeds of Coffea arabica have a much lower caffeine content than other species of wide distribution and compared to other species is self-pollinating, which autogamous crops, and also prefers high altitude (between 1000 and 2000 meters). The cultivation of Coffea arabica outside the territories of origin started very early, eg in Indonesia in 1699.

Robusta. Today it is much cultivated Coffea Robusta (Coffea canephora or, as considered scientifically more correct but not used commercially). It is a species native to tropical Africa, including Uganda and Guinea, very adaptable (also grows at altitudes below 700 meters) and therefore cheaper. Its cultivation began only in the nineteenth century. It is an allogamous plant, so it requires cross-pollination that may differentiate genetically with more ease than arabica.
Liberica. Among the less common species of culture, the most important is Coffea Liberica, originally from Liberia and cultivated, as well as in West Africa, especially in Indonesia and the Philippines.
Excelsa. In 1903 it was discovered in Africa, a new species of coffee trees, christened with the name of Coffea excelsa. However, subsequently, botanists have found that this species was really just a variety of Coffea Liberica and its scientific name is correct then [2] Coffea Liberica var. Dewevrei.
The variety continues to be called by Excelsa and commercial growers and is considered very promising.


Minor species

Here we recall only the following:

Stenophylla Coffea stenophylla is native to West Africa, where it is grown locally (Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote d'Ivoire). It is resistant to drought. The scent has been likened to that of tea, the flavor is not pleasing to all palates.
Mauritiana Coffea mauritiana is coffee brown of Mauritius and the neighboring island of Reunion, a recent horticultural varieties, Bourbon pointu, looks very promising.
Racemosa Coffea racemosa, native of Mozambique, lose their leaves during the dry season.



The Arabic word "qahwa" (قهوة) originally identified a drink made from the juice extracted from some seeds that were consumed as a dark red liquid, which, drunk, effects caused exciting and challenging enough to be used as a medication. Today, this word means in Arabic, namely coffee.
From the term "qahwa" is the Turkish word Kahve passed through a progressive narrowing of meaning, given in Italian with the word "coffee". This derivation is disputed by those who argue that the word coffee comes from the name of the region where this plant was most widespread in the wild, Caffa, nell'Etiopia south-west.


Legend on the discovery

Until the nineteenth century was not sure what the point of origin of the coffee plant and, in addition to Ethiopia, the assumption was Persia and Yemen. Pellegrino Artusi, in his famous manual says that the best coffee is to Mokha (city in Yemen), and that this would be the clue to identify the place of origin. There are many legends about the origin of coffee.
The best known is said that a shepherd named Kaldi led to graze goats in Ethiopia. One day they met a coffee plant began to eat the berries and chewing the leaves. Arriving at night instead of sleeping goats began to wander with energy and liveliness never expressed before. Seeing that the shepherd, and he gave the reason abbrustolì plant seeds eaten by his flock, then milled and made an infusion, getting coffee.
Another legend has starred the Prophet Muhammad who, feeling ill, had one day the vision of the Archangel Gabriel, who offered him a potion black (as the Sacred Stone of Mecca) created by Allah, which enabled him to recover and return in force. There is also a legend that tells of a fire in the wild in Abyssinia Coffee that its smoke into the air for miles and miles away.


Diffusion in the Middle East, Europe and America

In the fifteenth century the knowledge of the drink made of coffee spread to Damascus, Cairo and finally to Istanbul, where its consumption occurred in the meeting places of the time.
In his work Sylva Sylvarum, published posthumously in 1627, Francis Bacon provides the first description of such areas in which the Turks are sitting drinking coffee, comparing taverns Union [3].
The first in Europe to describe the coffee plant were: Germany botanist Leonard Rauwolf, in a book published in 1583 and in Italy, the Marosticense Prospero Alpini, in his book De Medicina AEgyptiorum dated 1591. [4] In the representation of Prospero Alpine missing but the berries of the coffee plant, which were described in Europe only in 1605 by Charles de L'Écluse, then director of the botanical Garden of Vienna.
For its commercial relations in the Near East, Venice was the first to make use of coffee in Italy, perhaps as early as the sixteenth century, but the first coffee shops were opened only in 1645 and the physician and scholar Francesco Redi in his Bacchus in Tuscany already sang:

"Beverei first poison
A glass that was full
Guilty of the bitter and coffee"

In the seventeenth century, London and Paris a pound of coffee was paid up to 40 shields. The user is then left to grow up gradually generalizing the immense consumption if it still does.
Around 1650, he began to be imported and consumed in England and thus opened the first coffee (meaning those clubs and bars and coffeehouses in English), such as those of Oxford and London. In 1663 in England there were already 80 coffeehouses, rose steeply to over 3000 units in 1715. The cafes soon became places of birth and spread of liberal ideas, and were frequented by writers, politicians and philosophers, and expanded its use throughout Europe. In 1670 he opened the first cafe in Berlin and in Paris in 1686.
Franciszek Jerzy Kulczycki in 1684, soldiers of the Polish troops of King Jan III Sobieski, after the liberation of Vienna, opened in this city the first coffee shop, among the first in Europe. In 1689 was inaugurated the first coffee in the U.S., in Boston, called the London Coffee House. He followed the King's Arms, opened in New York in 1696.


Kofetarica (the drinker of coffee)
In the eighteenth century every city in Europe had at least a coffee. The coffee began to be cultivated in large scale in the English colonies and the Dutch (in Indonesia). The Dutch East India Company began to grow coffee already in the last decade of the seventeenth century, at Java, using seeds from the port of Mocha, Yemen. In 1706 a number of coffee seedlings were transferred from Java to the botanical gardens of Amsterdam, from there, in 1713, a plant reached France.
In 1720, Gabriel de Clieu, a French naval officer, sailed to the Caribbean with two plants of coffee, of which only one survived coming to the French colony of Martinique. From there, in the decades following, the plants spread rapidly throughout Central America: Haiti (1725), Guadeloupe (1726), Jamaica (1730), Cuba (1748) and Puerto Rico (1755). At the same time, precisely in 1718, the Dutch carried the coffee into another their colony, Suriname, from which, in 1719 he entered the French Guiana and finally penetrated here in Brazil, where, in 1727, the first plantations were created. The industry in the colonies depended exclusively on the practice of slavery, only abolished, however, formally, in 1888.
It was Carl Linnaeus, Swedish botanist who was responsible for the spread of the system of classification of organisms into genus and species, originally proposed in 1737 the genus Coffea.

Production areas

Geographical distribution of coffee cultivation: (r) robust species, (a) Arabian species, (m) both
Approximately, the production areas are represented by the following map: more accurate data can be found on the website of the International Coffee Organization (ICO) [5]. According to statistics therein, the major world producers, in order, Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia and Indonesia. Follow, with variable order depending on the year, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, Ethiopia, India, Ecuador.


Roasting artisan

Pellegrino Artusi also gave some tips to make a toasted artisan (or "homemade") of coffee beans. Having recommended the maximum attention, because this depends on the success of the drink, the first suggestion is to use wood instead of coal, to regulate the heat better.
When the coffee starts to crackle and smoke, is often shaken the roaster while you should take care to remove it just took the color chestnut-brown and the first to sound the oil (in Florence, in ancient times, to halt immediately the burning it would lie in the open air); bad would rather the custom to close it between two plates, because in this way would just spread the essential oil, with subsequent loss of the aroma (in fact, lost in coffee roasting, the 20 % of its weight, so that there are about 500 g to 400).


Quality of coffee

According to Artusi, as well as different kinds of meat are the best broth, so that different qualities of coffee, roasted separately, you get a more pleasing aroma. For Artusi, the ideal mixture should be composed of 250 g of Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo 100 and 150 of Moka. Even with 200 Puerto Rico 300 g of mocha would give a good result. With 15 g of this powder you can make a cup of coffee abundant, but when it is in many, may suffice ga 10 head for a small cup usual.
The finest coffees in the world, "Kopi Luwak" is produced in Indonesia. The production is of the order of 50 kg per year, and costs about 500 € per kg. The peculiarity of Kopi Luwak is the fact that it's coffee beans eaten and digested by the palm civet (Luwak), then hand-picked and roasted normally. The exponents of the Cup of Excellence, namely a jury that awards the Oscars of coffee, consider a few basic parameters considered, including the aroma, sweetness, flavor, acidity, absence of defects, the aftertaste [1] . In general the quality is related to the growth environment, with practical adoperate in culture, with the type of processing berries (the degree and homogeneity) and the place of origin.




Artusi advised tostarne little at a time and store in tightly closed metal vessel, grinding out of order just what you need, because it easily loses its fragrance. A permanence of the beans for 2 or 3 weeks at ambient temperature and contact with air, is sufficient to greatly alter the taste of the drink, due to the process of rancidity of the oil content, and in the case of espresso, the near absence in the cup , of the cream on the surface. Currently, the materials used in industry for the packaging of coffee beans, are sufficiently impermeable to air to allow a good preservation also in its jar or envelope.