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Coffea arabica - L.

Common Name Coffee Arabica
Family Rubiaceae
USDA hardiness 9-11
Known Hazards The seeds contain chlorogenic acid, which is a known allergen[238].
Habitats An understorey tree in high elevation humid forests [303 , 307 ].
Range Africa - Tropical regions in the northeast.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Coffea arabica Coffee Arabica

Coffea arabica Coffee Arabica


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Coffea arabica is an evergreen Shrub growing to 6 m (19ft) by 3 m (9ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Bees. The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


C. bourbonica Pharm. ex Wehmer. C. corymbulosa Bertol. C. laurifolia Salisb. C. moka Heynh. C. sundana Miq. C. vulgaris Moench.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Leaves  Seed
Edible Uses: Coffee  Condiment  Drink  Tea

Coffea arabica accounts for 60% of the world's coffee production. The dried seeds ('beans') are roasted, ground, and brewed to make one of the two most popular beverages globally [303 ]. Coffee is widely used as a flavouring in ice cream, pastries, candies, and liqueurs [303 ]. The seed has been used as a masticatory since ancient times. Cooked in butter, it can be used to make rich flat cakes [303 ]. An extract from the seeds is used as a flavouring in ice cream etc. [301 ]. The dried, roasted green seeds are used as an appetizer, whilst chocolate-covered roasted seeds are used as a gourmet snack [301 ]. The red fruits and leaves are chewed for their stimulating properties [301 ]. Leaves - cooked. The cooked leaves have a strong brown colour, a good texture and a relatively neutral flavour with only a hint of bitterness [298 ]. The leaves contain more caffeine than the fruit and are sometimes used as a tea substitute[301 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Analgesic  Antiasthmatic  Antidote  Antiemetic  Aphrodisiac  Aromatic  Bitter  Cardiotonic  
Deodorant  Diuretic  Diuretic  Febrifuge  Galactogogue  Hypnotic  Malaria  
Nervine  Stimulant

The seed contains caffeine, a widely used stimulant used in proprietary painkillers to potentiate the effect of aspirin and paracetamol [238 ]. It also has the stimulants theobromine and theophylline, chlorogenic acid, which is stimulant and diuretic, as well as a known allergen [238 ]. The seed is a bitter, aromatic, stimulant herb that has diuretic effects and controls vomiting [238 ]. It is reported to be analgesic, an aphrodisiac, anorexic, antidotal, cardiotonic, CNS-stimulant, counter-irritant, diuretic, hypnotic, galactagogue and nervine [303 ]. Whilst not usually recognised as a medical herb, coffee is a highly effective general stimulant, having a particular effect upon the central nervous system, improving perception and physical performance [254 ]. It has been found to help in some cases of headache or migraine [254 ]. An enema made using coffee beans is an effective cleanser for the large bowel [254 ]. Coffee is a folk remedy for asthma, atropine poisoning, fever, flu, headache, jaundice, malaria, migraine, narcosis, nephrosis, opium poisoning, sores and vertigo [303 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Cosmetic  Deodorant  Furniture  Hedge  Herbicide  Houseplant  Mulch  Paper  Wood

Agroforestry Uses: The plant is often intercropped with food crops, such as corn, beans or rice, during the first few years of growth[418 ]. It is useful as an understorey plant, as a hedge. Other Uses: Coffelite, a type of plastic, is made from coffee beans [303 ]. Coffee with iodine is used as a deodorant [303 ]. The seeds contain caffeine, which has been described as a natural herbicide. It selectively inhibits germination of the seeds of Amaranthus spinosus [303 ]. The bark can be made into pulp and parchment or used as manure and mulches [303, 418 ]. The whitish wood is hard, dense, heavy, tough, durable and takes a polish well. It is suitable for tables, chairs and turnery [303, 418, 447 ]. Coffea arabica can be grown in a large container (35L+). It will also grow as an indoor plant but is unlikely to fruit.

Special Uses

Food Forest  Hedge

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Coffea arabica can be grown at elevations from 1,300 to 2,800 metres in equatorial regions, with 1,500 - 1,900 metres being most common. The minimum elevation reduces to about 500 metres at a latitude around 15°N or S, whilst in the subtropics, it can be grown from sea level to 1,000 metres [418 ]. The plant can tolerate low temperatures but not frost. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range of 14 - 28°c but can tolerate 10 - 34°c [418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,400 - 2,300mm, but tolerates 750 - 4,200mm [418 ]. With too much rainfall, the plant tends to develop wood at the expense of flowers and fruits [418 ]. One to two months of less than 50mm rain facilitates uniform flowering. Heavy rain during and after harvest is not desirable [418 ]. Coffea arabica prefers a position in light shade[307 ]. Shading improves leaf and shoot growth but reduces root growth [303 ]. Coffea arabica prefers deep friable soil on undulating land [303 ]. Plants are unsuited to stiff clay or sandy soils but are considered tolerant of acid soils [303 ]. It prefers a pH in the range of 5.5 - 7, tolerating 4.3 - 8.4 [418 ]. Plants can begin to bear within 2 - 3 years and fully bear at the age of 6 - 8 years [418 ]. The optimum yield of clean, dry coffee beans is 2- 3 tonnes/ha, obtained in Kenya. The average yields are about 0.5 tonnes/ha in Brazil and 0.9 tonnes/ha in Africa [418 ]. Coffee plants can produce economic yields for 30 - 40 years on average, though this can vary from 10 - 70 years and plants of 80 - 100 years are known [418 ]. Two to four years after planting, Coffea arabica produces small, white, highly fragrant flowers. The sweet fragrance resembles the sweet smell of jasmine flowers. Following the flowers, red berries appear, which are harvested for the coffee beans inside. The plant is tetraploid, and over 30 mutations have been recognized [303 ]. In bisexual flowers, pollen is shed shortly after the flower opens, and the stigma is receptive immediately. Self-pollination can occur, as seed sets, even when the flowers are bagged [303 ]. Pollination is also by honeybees, which collect nectar and pollen from the flowers [303 ]. Inferior coffee results from picking berries too early or too late. Dwarf varieties are available.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Propagation is usually by seed. The optimum temperature for the germination of coffee seeds is about 30 - 32°c, below 10°c germination is very slow [418 ]. The viability of the seeds is comparatively short, depending upon conditions, and it is advisable to plant within two months of harvesting. The older the seeds, the longer they take to germinate, and they lose viability. They can be planted with the attached parchment, but germination is quicker when removed [303 ]. Seedlings can be raised in shaded nurseries, planting them into their permanent positions when they are 6 - 12 months old [303 ]. Layering. Air layering. Budding. For rooting of coffee cuttings, the single leaf-bud cutting is commonly used [303 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Arabian coffee, Cafe, Coffee (Arabian), Kafe, Kajui, Kapeng arabica, Koffie, Kohfi, Koofiy, Kopi arabika, Bunn, Mountain Coffee.

Africa, Angola, Arabia, Asia, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central Africa, Central America, China, Colombia, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, East Africa, East Timor, Easter Island, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eswatini, Ethiopia (native), Fiji, Grenada, Guam, Guatemala, Guiana, Guianas, Guyana, Haiti, Hawaii, Honduras, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya (native), Malawi, Marquesas, Martinique, Mexico, Mozambique, Myanmar, New Caledonia, Nicaragua, Niger, Norfolk Island, North Africa, North America, Pacific, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Peru, Philippines, Pohnpei, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, SE Asia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Southern Africa, South America, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Taiwan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga, USA, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Vietnam, West Africa, West Indies, Yap, Yemen, Zimbabwe [1-4].

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

None Known

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Wild coffee is: Endangered A3b.

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References

Links / References

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A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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