The nature of the coffee
Dozens of species of the genus Coffea are known, but only two of them have economic weight: Arabic Coffee is a shrub plant belonging to the Rubiacee family, the Coffea family. Some of Coflea and Coffea canephora are the only ones that are widely cultivated by humans. From each of the two species there are also several varieties, partly derived from natural mutations and partly as a result of genetic engineering. After the summary of Prospero Alpino in D and Plantis Aegypti, 1592, we find in 1713 the first botanical description of the coffee called Jasminutn arabicanum by A. de Jussieu. The current classification of the Coffea species dates back to the 1940s and is primarily the work of Chevalier and Lebrun.
The tree consists of one or more stems from which the primary branches diverge, which in turn leads to secondary branches: only the latter, if damaged, is regenerated. When it grows spontaneously, it reaches a height of 8-10 meters, while the crops are pruned at a height of 2-2.5 meters to facilitate maintenance and harvesting.
The leaves grow in opposite pairs of each other, and are 10-15 cm long and have an oval or spear-shaped shape. Their color is deep dark green, and on the surface is brilliant and fleshy; generally reminiscent of bay leaves, with a typically slightly wavy end. The colors are white and appear in groups of two or three and reach a diameter of two centimeters. Their duration is very short, only a few days, but during this period they emit a strong and intense aroma: a real holiday for the insects who come to suck nectar. Pollination is only necessary for Coffea canephora species, because the arabic is autogamy (or pollinating), or the flowers are capable of self-pollination. The flesh that develops from the ovary of the fertilized flower is called alp (nut fruit) or cherry: with a diameter of about 15 millimeters and when it reaches full maturity it gets a bright red color. Outside, you can see a dense and shining bark, the echo that covers a layer of a few millimeters of gentle and sugar mass, the mesocarp. Finally, we reach the grains (or endocarp): they are externally covered with a thick, whitish film called parchment that has a grain protection function. Below the parchment there is another film, thin and perfectly adhered to the grain: the silver film. Within each fruit there are usually two grains; sometimes there is only one pearl (grain) due to insufficient pollination, but rarely there are also three. The shape of the grain is oval elongated, on one side convex and the other flat. From the curve to the flat part are about ten millimeters in average weighing about 0.15 grams each and have a green color with shades that can pass from gray to blue or from reddish to brown. Grains are the only part of the fruit of the coffee plants that are used and the rest are discarded.
The types of Arabic coffee and Robusta
Both species of economic importance such as Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora are commonly referred to as Arabica and Robusta. Almost all of the world's production is derived from these plants, encompassing the other two cultivated species, Coffea liberica and Coffea excelsa, which have an insignificant role. Moreover, arabic is more common than Robusta, which accounts for about three-quarters of world production. Although the toasted beans of the two species are very similar, the differences between the two plants and their grains are considerable, starting from genetic differences: Arabia is endowed with 44 chromosomes while Robusta has only half of them. Also, the plants, albeit resembling, differ slightly in the shape and color of the leaves and flowers, but above all the height, which, if not cut, reaches: 6-8 meters Arabica and 8-10 meters Robusta. As its name suggests, Robusta (strong) is noticeably stronger than other species in both pest and disease attack and heat: Robusta plants can last for several days at temperatures above 30 ° C while those of the Arabian dying in a very short time. For both varieties, freezing is fatal. The Arabian species is particularly susceptible to the parasite, Hemileia vastatrix, responsible for the complete destruction of Ceylon plantations - the first country where coffee is made in a systematic and organized manner - is then transformed into planted areas of tea. Despite the use of modern pesticides, the fight against this disease poses considerable difficulties, especially at lower heights. This explains why the plantations of Arabica are 900-2000 meters high in areas that have practically never reached frost, while those of Robusta are usually found at a height of 200 to 300 meters in places that are significantly warmer and wetter areas. Considering the higher costs of growing high plants, often on steep slopes, as well as the greater amount of pesticides and cures demanded by Arabic species, you can see how their grain has a marketable value, proportional to the highest quality compared to those of the Robusta species. The most obvious differences between the two plants are seen in the grains: the arabic ones are flatter, more elongated and represent the groove on the flat surface of the coiled form; the color is green, more or less intense, sometimes with blue shades. Robusta grains instead are more protruding and round, the furrow is almost straight and the green color is usually pale with shades of brown or gray. Even after baking, you can clearly see the difference in the shape of the beans of both types. From a chemical point of view, the largest differences are reflected in the percentage of caffeine: 1.1-1.7% in Arabia, 2-4.5% in Robusta. Chlorogenic acidic substances, which can cause digestive disturbances if they exceed a certain threshold, are present in larger quantities in Robusta. Even "in a glass" both are different: the Arabic is sweeter and more aromatic, noticeably less bitter.
There are two basic systems for creating new coffee beans: sowing or cuttings. The first is the most widespread and allows transitions between different varieties to improve their individual characteristics; the second, instead, guarantees the perfect reproduction of the mother plant, avoiding unwanted mutations. Considering this, the greatest attention should be paid both to the harvesting of fruits that must be fully ripened and to the selection of the grains. The whole-hand job consists in choosing the more red and more ripe fruit to be cut off before "breaking up" (taking care that the fingers collect them do not disturb the parchment coating and not damage the grains) after which the beans are immersed in water: those that fly are eliminated along with the defective color. Those who pass the tests are placed in wooden boxes on a bed selected land rich in humus, located at a distance of one to tristotin meters and covered with a thin layer of another land, which is then soaked thoroughly, cover with large leaves and the boxes are placed in a special place called a kindergarten protected from the sun's rays. Within a few weeks, seedlings leave the ground and emit the first few leaves.
The second cutting-cutting system is made by picking branches of adult plants, taking care to choose perfectly intact and quite distant from the slopes because they have a smaller diameter. Then the branches are cut into pieces of about ten centimeters each containing a pair lista.Sled which makes clipping in length, while maintaining the leaves At this point the cuttings are placed in a box filled with a layer of earth, prepared as described above, as part of the leaves staying up and coming out of the ground. After good irrigation, the box is finally placed in the kindergarten, where after a few weeks of care the first roots will appear, followed soon by the first leaves.
Since then the two procedures have been unified: before the roots grow too much, seedlings are slightly removed from the ground and transplanted individually into a bag - usually plastic - full of good soil.
For almost one year, the seedlings remain in the nursery in their bags, seen daily by expert eyes. When the sixth pair of leaves developed and before the branches were formed, the seedlings were placed in their final dwelling, a hole in the ground, suitably shaped and ennobled. Each plant is inserted with all the land contained in the bag protected from the sun with large leaves and well-soaked. It takes three to four years before a normal harvest begins and only after the tenth year reaches the highest productivity, which, if not planted with other trees, will begin to decline to the twentieth year.
Coffee plantations are in areas affected by the seasonality in countries between the two tropics where summer is always summer or cross between spring and summer and when plants are evergreen and give fruit in a continuous cycle. Brown shrubs are no exception to this rule: their flowering, which does not depend on the increase in spring temperature, as in our countries, is instead associated with rain. This means that after every rainfall, after about two weeks, the plant fiorisee: if it rains ten times a year, the plant blooms ten times, if it rains only twice there are two flowering. This explains the importance of climate, and in particular precipitation, for growing coffee; it also explains why a few weeks of drought in Brazil during the period, usually characterized by rains, can cause significant price increases worldwide.
In some countries like Brazil with monsoon rainfall, precipitation is concentrated during certain months of the year. Other rain may fall improperly. The consequences of this second situation will soon be explained: Robunna is taken from 9 months and from 6 to 8 months - from Arabica from flowers to mature fruits. If the rain is spread throughout the year, flowers, fruit with intermediate ripening stages and ripe fruit can be found on the same plant. Practice shows that it is the rains that are most important for the total harvest. This, in turn, affects farmers in choosing the most appropriate harvesting system.
After flowering, which lasts for several days, the ovaries of the fertilized flower develop rapidly in fruits of initial green color; from 6 to 12 weeks of full maturity, the cherry has already reached its ultimate size. In the last weeks the fruits change color, become yellow and then bright red, except for some varieties such as Bourbon, which have ripe yellow fruits. If they do not get together in time, the fruit becomes garnet red and therefore brown, until the pulp and skin dries and becomes stiff; sometimes they fall spontaneously on the ground. In periods with very low prices, the harvest is limited to dried cherries
The types of Arabic coffee and Robusta
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