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International coffee day: the coffee plant in the spotlight

Today is International Coffee Day. A special day for the most consumed drink in the world. And a day during which you will probably hear a lot about this magical Ethiopian drink. That's why I'm not going to talk about the drink today, but about the source of this black gold: the coffee plant. Grab a strong espresso or an oat milk latte with cinnamon (the best way to enjoy coffee if you ask me) and read all about this green powerhouse in this blog.

Crazy for coffea

The genus Coffea is a group of woody plants, ranging from shrubs to small trees and even liana-like plants! By far the most species occur on the islands in the Indian Ocean and in tropical Africa, with the center of gravity in Ethiopia. The cradle of coffee cultivation. According to legend, this is also where the 'original' coffee drink comes from, discovered by a herd of monastic goats (read more about this here).

The specific coffee plants we use to make coffee are coffea arabica and coffea canephora (also known as robusta). Because the Arabica variety contains more fatty acids and sugars, it is more acidic and more complex in taste than the canephora, which produces beans with a higher caffeine content and is more resistant to diseases. And then there are all kinds of varieties within these two species that are grown for their special properties. For example, the Bourbon variety is known for its sweet taste and the Geisha bean is known for its tea-like properties [1].

Cherry on top

We also have a type of coffee in our range: Coffea arabica. A looker of a plant! The foliage is glossy all year round and a mature coffee plant produces beautiful white, sweet-smelling flowers in spring. The flowers become berries after self-pollination, which only change color from green to red after a year. They are often called 'cherries' but officially they are 'drupes'. The red berries contain the source of today's oh-so-popular drink: the coffee bean. In fact, the coffee bean is not a bean, but a seed! Because the seeds press against each other during ripening, the characteristic shape is created. These 'beans' remain light green and only acquire their characteristic dark brown color during roasting.

Growing your own sustainable coffee

You wouldn't think it, but you can grow your own coffee beans! In the Netherlands, the plant is extremely suitable as a houseplant, because it likes moderate heat and can withstand a bit of shade. When plant shops offer coffee plants, it often looks like a shrub. These are actually a lot of plants sown close together. A shame because that does not help the development of the plants. They are too close together to develop a healthy root system.

If you want to grow the plant into a tree, it is better to start with one single plant. If you already have such a group of coffee plants in your home, you can carefully separate them and place them in pots. If you take good care of your plant and give it space, it can grow up to 5 meters high – in its natural habitat it can even grow to a tree of 12 meters! But rest assured, you can also keep it smaller with regular pruning. As with most plants, this promotes its gorgeous flowering.

Finally, I would like to give you a tip: you can of course celebrate International Coffee Day by having a nice cup of coffee together. However, if you can't visit your coffee buddy for a while, send a coffee plant with letterbox mail! Then in a few years they can treat you to the most sustainable cup of coffee you've ever drunk, grown all by yourself. You order the coffee plant here.

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