Information about: Coffee

Index | Coffee

Note: Information is dated. Do not rely on it.

Coffee. The seed of an evergreen shrub which is cultivated in hot climates, and is a native of Abyssinia and of Arabia. This shrub is from fifteen to twenty feet in height; the leaves are green, glossy on the upper surface, and the flowers are white and sweet-scented. The fruit is of an oval shape, about the size of a cherry, and of a dark red color when ripe. Each of these contains two cells, and each cell a single seed, which is the coffee as we see it before it undergoes the process of roasting. Great attention is paid to the culture of coffee in Arabia. The trees are raised from seed sown in nurseries and afterward planted out in moist and shady situations, on sloping grounds or at the foot of mountains. Care is taken to conduct little rills of water to their roots, which at certain seasons require to be constantly surrounded by moisture. When the fruit has attained its maturity, cloths are placed under the trees, and upon these the laborers shake it down. They afterward spread the berries on mats, and expose them to the sun to dry. The husk is then broken off by large and heavy rollers of wood or iron. When the coffee has been thus cleared of its husk it is again dried in the sun, and, lastly, winnowed with a large fan, for the purpose of clearing it from the pieces of husks with which it is intermingled. A pound of coffee is generally more than the produce of one tree; but a tree in great vigor will produce about two pounds. The best coffee is imported from Mocha, on the Red sea. It is packed in large bales, each containing a number of smaller bales, and when good appears fresh and of a greenish-olive color. Next in quality to the Mocha coffee may perhaps be ranked that of southern India and that of Ceylon, which is strong and well flavored. Java and Central America also produce large quantities of excellent coffee. Brazilian coffee, though produced more abundantly than any other, stands at the bottom of the list as regards quality. Of late years, however, the quality of Brazilian coffee has greatly improved through greater care in the selection of seed and harvesting, and much of the coffee now sold on the market as Mocha and Java is said to be of Brazilian growth. At present Brazil produces more coffee than all other countries combined.