Coffee comes from a tropical evergreen bush or small tree most commonly found between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn or more broadly along the Equator between latitudes 25 degrees North and 30 degrees South. In this tropical environment, the coffee bush grows to a height of up to 15 feet and is characterized by broad, waxy green leaves. This evergreen bush develops coffee cherries that are bright red when ripe. Each cherry contains a pit which itself consists of two seeds that grow nestled against each other. The coffee bean – green or roasted – represents one seed or one half of the coffee cherry pit.
On average, it takes 5 years for the coffee bush to reach maturity at which point it yields approximately one pound of roasted coffee per year.
Arabica and Robusta
There are two main species of coffee – Coffea Arabica and Coffea Canephora from which the Robusta variety is derived. Coffea Arabica accounts for the majority of the world’s production estimated between 60-70% of all coffee produced and is the species from which we get specialty coffee. Coffea Canephora and specifically the Robusta variety is the second most produced and is often found in canned coffee and is generally used by large, “institutional” coffee roasters. Within Coffea Arabica there are many varieties such as Typica (also known as Arabica) and Bourbon. From these varieties are numerous strains such as the well-known Jamaican Blue Mountain.
In general Coffea Arabica is more difficult to grow, has a lower yield and grows at higher elevations than Coffea Canephora. From flower to ripe cherry Coffea Arabica takes 9 months and Coffea Canephora 10-11 months. Coffea Arabica is more susceptible to pests and diseases and much growing focus is placed on resistance.
Since our founding, Honu has focused only on Specialty Coffee. Simply, Specialty Coffee means only the very best Coffea Arabica or about 3% of total global coffee production. When you buy Honu coffee you can be assured that only the finest high-grown mild Arabica coffee from this select 3% makes it into your bag.