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Coffee Plant


The first cultivated coffee, C. arabica, is native to Ethiopia. In Africa, coffee beans were consumed as food and later made into wine. The coffee plant made its way to neighboring Arabia around A.D. 1000 where it was made into and consumed as a beverage. Coffee beans were introduced to Europe during the spice trade (fifteenth century). The first coffee tree was brought to Europe by Jussieu and planted in the Jardin des Plantes, Paris in 1714. This tree was to become the source of all Latin American coffees. This same tree was stolen and later replanted (after a treacherous sea voyage) in Martinique. This species spread to the West Indies and later, Brazil. Until the late part of the seventeenth century, all coffee came from Arabia. The West Indian colonies of Spain and France became major world suppliers. Later, the Dutch successfully cultivated the coffee tree in Indonesia, and eventually became the leading coffee producer. The fungus, Hemileia vastatrix, wiped out most of the coffee trees in Asia, allowing the West Indian and Brazilian industry to gain dominance. By the late nineteenth century, Brazil had vast coffee plantations and was the leading coffee producer. This status fluctuated A coffee plant in Costa Rica. © Alan D. Carey, National Audubon Society Collection/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced with permission. with the emancipation of its slaves, incoming European immigrant workers, the start of many small farms, and overproduction. Today, Brazil and Colombia are the world's leading producers of coffee beans.



Clarke, R.C., and R. Macrae, eds. Coffee. 5 vol. New York: Elsevier, 1988.

Lewington, Anna. Plants for People. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Christine Miner Minderovic

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Cluster compound to ConcupiscenceCoffee Plant - Cultivation And Harvesting, History