Where do Coffee Beans come from? A Detailed History

You can find Coffee everywhere, from offices to gas stations and restaurants to parks. Many people cannot even imagine their morning breakfast without a good coffee cup. Coffee is the most common drink in the world, but have you ever wondered where do coffee beans come from?

Brief History of Coffee

A Shephard named Kaldi first discovered coffee beans in the 6th century in Ethiopia. While grazing his goats, Kaldi notices that they always gather around a specific plant and eat red cherries from it.

He also noticed that the goats get energized after eating those red cherries from a plant.

Kaldi tried these cherries himself, and he felt energized too.

Kaldi went to the Monk with some cherries and told him the whole story.

Monk brewed these cherries and made a drink of them, and the Monk also felt more alert in his meditation after drinking it.

Monk Spread The Word Of The Incredible Discovery, And The Rest Is The History.

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What is Coffee Plant?

Coffee beans grow on small trees and shrubs, mainly in the tropical zone, also known as the bean belt. The climate conditions and minerals in the soil of this zone are perfect for the growth of Coffee.

Coffee Plant

The coffee plant has dense and waxy dark green colored leaves. The life of coffee beans starts as tiny light green buds that grow into red or orange-colored cherries. From these cherries, the coffee beans are extracted.

It takes almost one year for a new coffee plant to start flowering, and after two to three years, the plant begins to give fruit. The life of coffee plants is usually up to thirty to forty years if taken care of properly.

The coffee plant is one of the most profitable agricultural products in the equator zone. Southeast Asia, South America, and Central Africa had always been the most prominent regions for the production of Coffee. Brazil, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Colombia are the biggest exporters of Coffee.

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Types of Coffee plants

There are basically two types of coffee plants, one is Arabica, and the other one is Robusta. These two types have further many varieties in them.


Arabica Coffee beans are flat or oval and have a sweet and light taste with the notes of fruitiness. Almost 70% of the Coffee beans grown around the world are Arabica. The reason is its smooth taste which most coffee lovers like.

Arabica beans are mainly cultivated at relatively higher altitudes. The production cost of Arabica beans is much higher than the Robusta beans because Arabica beans are more vulnerable to pests. That’s why Arabica beans are expensive. Brazil is the largest producer of these beans.


Robusta beans are smaller and round. The flavor of Robusta beans is earthy and bitter and has high caffeine content than the Arabica beans. Due to its harsh flavor and lack of sugar, it is not liked by most coffee lovers.

Robusta beans are grown on lower altitudes. Robusta plants are relatively easier to cultivate and are not vulnerable to pests. That’s why the production cost of Robusta beans is somewhat lower than the Arabica beans. These plants are primarily produced in the Asian or African region.

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What is the difference between Arabica and Robusta?

  • Arabica beans have lower caffeine content of about 1-2%, while Robusta beans have 4-5% caffeine content.
  • Arabica beans have a smooth and light flavour as it has more sugar content, while the flavour of Robusta beans is bitter and harsh.
  • Arabica beans are expensive than Robusta beans.
  • Arabica beans are oily and acidic, while Robusta beans are dry and less acidic.

Processing of the Coffee beans

We get red-colored cherries from the Coffee plant. You might be wondering how these cherries are transformed into dark brown colored beans with the aroma of dark chocolate. Well! After harvesting, these cherries are then passed through different processing steps.

Processing of Coffee beans

The first is to remove the cherry cover and dry the coffee beans. There are two methods for it.

1)Dry Method

This method is usually followed in countries where water is scarce. The freshly picked cherries are dried on large surfaces under the sun. In this method, some cherry is left on the coffee seed to impart some fruity flavor on it.

As the coffee seeds dry under the sun, fermentation occurs due to fruitiness present in the seeds, which imparts a winey flavor to the coffee. This fruity flavor is loved by some coffee lovers, not so much by others.

2)Wet Method

In this method, after removing the cherries from the seeds, the seeds are soaked in water for two to three days which completely removes any sticky pulp of the fruit from the coffee beans. After that, the seeds are dried under the sun.

The Coffee seeds processed by this method have a pure coffee profile; that’s why it is more liked by coffee lovers.

There are basically two types of coffee plants, one is Arabica, and the other is Robusta. These two types have further many varieties in them.


Coffee Roasting

After drying, the green coffee seeds are roasted under high temperatures to produce final dark-coloured coffee beans. Coffee beans have 1200 different aroma compounds, which can be developed by roasting.

Roasters test different roasting techniques to extract perfect flavor from the coffee beans. For this purpose, the coffee experts examine different temperature conditions and different times for roasting.

Lighter roasts are fruitier and more acidic, while dark roasts are bitter and less acidic. For strong coffees like Espresso, usually dark or medium dark roasts are preferred.

If you wanna know more in detail about coffee roasting, Check our guide on Different types of coffee roasts

Final Thoughts

So next time you wonder where do coffee beans come from. You can easily search the name of your coffee brand on the internet. You can easily find the origin of your coffee beans, their type whether it’s Arabica or Robusta, its drying method. So you can easily choose your favorite Coffee brand among various brands.

If you know something more about the history of coffee beans, please do share it with us in the comments.


1- Where do Americans get their Coffee beans from?

Central American countries like Costa Rica and Honduras are the biggest exporters of Coffee beans to the USA. The climate of these countries is best for the cultivation of coffee plants.

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