Coffee has been cultivated by humans for at least the last thousand years, and in that time we’ve managed truly make it one of our most productive crops globally.
Grown near to the equator and in elevated positions, coffee trees are responsible for producing the beverage that we love so much as a species.
There are many varieties of coffee that can be found across the world, with some countries like Ethiopia being home to many hundreds of undocumented types, as well as the most popular Arabica and Robusta. Originally, coffee is native to Africa, but over the centuries we’ve been able to adapt them to a wider range of climates as well as regions, and it’s now possible to find coffee being grown as far as South America.
Coffee trees tend to live longer when they grow in the wild than they do when cultivated by man, which means that there has always been a push to keep them growing as wildly as possible. They also boast fascinating life cycles as we will explore here.
Compared to most plants, the seeds of a coffee tree take quite a while to germinate. In fact, a study done on the popular Arabica coffee found that it can take around two months before the plant actually emerges from the soil, provided that the temperature is just right.
If it’s too cold, the seed instead will take around 90 days in total, meaning that it’s a long wait right from the moment of planting, and part of why they are usually planted in warmer climates.
The Juvenile Stage
Even after a full year of growing, the juvenile tree is extremely small. They also will need protection from both high humidity and direct sunlight. Therefore, trees that grow in the wild are only able to thrive when given protection by the canopy of other.
At this stage and depending on the conditions of the soil and the general climate, it will be another three to five years before the tree is considered mature.
By the time that a coffee tree has begun to properly mature – usually around three years – the tree will begin to produce.
At first there will be clusters of flowers that smell quite similar to jasmine, and 15 weeks after fertilisation has taken place, cherries themselves will begin to appear. Once they have, the cherries will need almost an entire year before they are fully ripened.
A matured coffee plant will stand a few metres off of the ground and will have deep taproots with a large root surface area.
Once they are fully grown, they can produce cherries for up to 60 years in the wild, but only 40 years when grown in cultivation, and these are what are turned into the beans that we drink while reading the news or checking out the newest NZ casino bonuses. Some coffee trees in Africa are speculated to be able to grow up to 100 years in total.