Scent of Africa

Coffee belongs to the Rubiacea family: this word is mostly unknown to the layman, but botanists and specialists are familiar with it… an encyclopaedia can help us discover its history.
Coffee is an evergreen plant that likes warm temperatures, so it grows only in tropical areas. The two most cultivated and marketed varieties are Arabica and Robusta Coffea. The first species grows at rather high altitudes and can reach the height of 8m.

Man has always been spurred on by his own instinct to change nature according to his will and requirements, so the coffee plants are cut back when they reach the height of 3 metres. The Robusta variety was named owing to its robust nature, since it is more resistant against parasites and bad weather conditions. Robusta needs more heat than Arabica, and it never grows at altitudes higher than 600 meters. Both species have glossy dark-green leaves.

 The white flowers last only a few days, then they turn into red berries which look like cherries, these are called “drupes” in technical terms. In this short period of the year, campesinos can sing their love songs to their shapely black women, who listen to them "encantade". Then music, love and eroticism suddenly stop. It is time for the harvesting and the processing of the coffee beans. The berries usually contain two coffee beans which are protected by a very thin layer that is called parchment (coffee is also called “green gold”).

In some rare cases, there is only a single round bean, which is called a “pea berry”. When man still loved nature, the red drupes were carefully hand picked and only the ripe ones were selected. Nowadays, the plants are shacked with machines through the so called “stripping" process. After the harvest, the beans have to be separated from the pulp either using the dry or wet process.

Following the dry process, the berries are first sun-dried and then the dried pulp and peel is removed, while using the wet process, the berries are gathered in large tanks with water and the pulp is removed. The beans are then sun-dried, and when they get a suntan ... well, when they are completely dry, the parchment is removed. Now the coffee beans are ready to be put into sacks and sent to the markets all around the world.


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