Coffee farms and plantations cover approximately 9,600 square miles of the continent and roughly 25 countries in Africa benefit economically from coffee production. For nearly 10 million African households, coffee is the primary source of income.
Coffee beans grow on an attractive little plant with glossy green leaves and a compact growth habit. In their native habitat, they like to grow into medium sized trees, but the coffee plants are regularly pruned to a more manageable size by coffee plantation growers.
COFFEE PLANT VARIETIES
There are more than 120 species of plants in the genus. Arabica accounting for about 60-80 percent of all the consumed coffee in the world. Another popular coffee bean comes from the Canephora plant, which is also known as Coffee Robusta. These species comes from sub- Saharan Africa. It’s plants are more robust, however, the coffee beans are less favored because they tend to have a stronger, harsher taste. Arabica coffee beans tend to be sweeter with undertones of sugar, berries and fruit.
A rich, peat-based potting soil with excellent drainage is beneficial. Coffee plants do not like limey soils, so if the plant is not thriving, add some organic matter like peat. Coffee plants can grow in soil that has a pH of 4 to 7. The ideal soil pH is closer to 6 – 6.5.
Ripe coffee cherries are usually picked by hand. The main exception is Brazil, where the relatively flat landscape and immense size of the coffee fields allow for machinery use. Coffee trees yield an average of 2 to 4 kilos of cherries and a good picker can harvest 45-90 kilos of coffee cherries per day, and this will produce 9-18 kilos of coffee beans.
COFFEE IS HARVESTED IN ONE OF 2 WAYS:
1. Strip Picked – All the cherries are stripped off the branch at one time, either by machine or by hand.
2. Selectively Picked – Only the ripe cherries are harvested and they are picked by hand.
Coffee in Society
After water, coffee is the most popular drink worldwide with over 400 billion cups being consumed each year. It is enjoyed as part of a healthy, balanced diet and the pleasurable experience. Coffee drinking plays a key role in many cultures around the world, providing an occasion for friends, family and colleagues to connect.
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