Being a coffee lover and enthusiast, digging deep into the origins of this lovely drink is a no-brainer. With more than 150 million cups sold daily in the United States alone, coffee’s popularity is getting stronger and stronger every single day.
One of the most successful coffee shop chains worldwide is Starbucks Coffee & Tea, no doubt; some may disagree with that statement ( which I completely understand). Still, one of the main reasons for that success is their investment in the Arabica Coffee Tree and the use of Arabica Coffee beans in all their products, all while actively caring about the people, growers, and suppliers’ well-being.
Today I will try to enlighten you further on that magical tree from history to biology, origins, threats, and everything in between.
History of The Arabica Tree
As its name entails, our popular Arabica originates from the Middle East, to be exact from Yemen, where it is believed it was found and documented in the 12th century.
It is known as a species by many names, including but not limited to “Arabian Coffee,” “Mountain Coffee,” “Coffea Arabica,” and “Arabica Coffee.”
Being the first coffee species to be cultivated and used, Arabica currently represents a staggering 60% of international production. At the same time, most of the additional 40% are dominated mainly by its direct competitor, the Robusta Coffee Tree, which we will talk about in later posts.
Arab scholars were the first to produce records of roasted coffee or būna in Arabic, and they clearly stated one of its very well known benefits, which are prolonging their work hours. Back in the 12th century, this Yemeni discovery became the talk of the town and spread like wildfire, especially among the Egyptians and Turks, later on, it started spreading in Europe.
While Yemen is still producing Arabica Coffee, qat took over, which resulted in a decline of our beloved tree production.
The Magic of Biology
The Arabica tree is small, 5 meters tall when unpruned with small glossy leaves, opposite, dark green, and thin. White flowers usually flourish after rain.
It contains four homologous sets of chromosomes with over 30 recognized mutations.
Self-pollination can occur, and pollination can also be by honeybees, which collect nectar and pollen from the flowers.
For more detailed information, you can check the source at:
Habitats & Global Distribution
While Yemen is the”founding father,” time and human unappreciative of such a gem lead to the neglect of coffee in Yemen. Currently, researchers consider Ethiopia and Mozambique as Native countries of the Arabica Tree. Other continents and countries started planting, producing, and exporting, including:
Africa, Southeast Asia, Latin America, China, United States, & some islands in the Caribbean and the Pacific.
Angola, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Colombia, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominican
Republic, El Salvador, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Martinique, Mexico,
Philippines, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Surinam, Tanzania, Uganda, United States of America.
Arabica & The Coffee Business, Starbucks Coffee & Tea Example
From Kenya to Sumatra, Yemen to Jamaica, Ethiopia to Guatemala to mention a few, Starbucks roam the world for the best coffee beans available in the market. They use 100% high-quality Arabica beans in their various products to establish themselves as one of the biggest buyers in the field. As mentioned on their website Starbucks the coffee buyers team, evaluates more than 1000 samples; only a few are selected. They also look to solidify their relationships with growers and suppliers which is not limited to the business side, Starbucks as a company has an active corporate social responsibility program benefiting the families of growers and the societies surrounding the fields.
Unfortunately, not everything is rosy, and the future might be holding some bad news for Starbucks, the whole industry & coffee addicts, and that is global warming.
The Arabica tree is known to be fragile and sensitive to many factors: rain, temperature, soil, surroundings, altitude, etc.
With temperatures on the rise and fast-changing weather and taking into consideration, that chilly temperatures are essential,
there are clear indications that growing lands will become unsuitable for plantation in the next 20 to 30 years, which will result in an unfortunate supply decline and beans price increase.
As a countermeasure and part of its efforts to fight climate change, Starbucks started buying renewable energy. It implemented strict procedures on energy conservation along with directly working with growers and suppliers on these changing conditions.
Various techniques are applied to asses the impact of climate change on production, and quality: “The steps we’re taking to address climate change not only reduce our environmental footprint, but they also help ensure the supply of high-quality coffee that our customers expect from us is sustainable for future generations.” Source Starbucks
In 2018, they announced their commitment to operating 10,000 greener stores globally.
Other major industry players should follow the path and execute similar strategies.
A Pure Gift of Nature
In my humble opinion, Coffea Arabica is by far and without a doubt a gift. Let’s imagine for a moment, the coffee business and consumers without it, what would the situation be? I am quite sure that not having the choice of high quality, rich cup of coffee would have reduced the business and the consumer’s experience of joy significantly. Even though its country of origin seems to be neglecting its importance and switched to qat tree, many other countries (luckily) are actively planting and producing on a large scale. I hope after it is now clear to you why coffee businesses and coffee shops using the “coffee shrub of Arabia” are succeeding and stunning their clients with various exquisite blends, smells, and flavors.
Hopefully, nature will get back on our side, and have mercy on such an amazing and sophisticated substance; humanity will realize that climate change and global warming are damaging to everyone and that we should change our habits for us to keep enjoying everything nature has to offer.