Coffea is a genus of flowering plants in the family Rubiaceae. Coffea species are shrubs or small trees native to tropical and southern Africa and tropical Asia. The seeds of some species, called coffee beans, are used to flavor various beverages and products. The fruits, like the seeds, contain a large amount of caffeine, and have a distinct sweet taste and are often juiced. The plant ranks as one of the world's most valuable and widely traded commodity crops and is an important export product of several countries, including those in Central and South America, the Caribbean and Africa.

Flowering branches of Coffea arabica
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Rubiaceae
Tribe: Coffeeae
Genus: Coffea
Type species
Coffea arabica

Cultivation and use

There are over 120 species of Coffea, which is grown from seed. The two most popular are Coffea arabica (commonly known simply as "Arabica"), which accounts for 60–80% of the world's coffee production, and Coffea canephora (known as "Robusta"), which accounts for about 20–40%.[1][2]

The trees produce edible red or purple fruits, known sometimes erroneously as "cherries", which are described either as epigynous berries or as indehiscent drupes.[3] These contain two seeds, called "coffee beans", though they are not true beans. In about 5–10% of any crop of coffee fruits, only a single bean is found. Called a peaberry, it is smaller and rounder than a normal coffee bean. These are often removed from the yield and either sold separately or discarded.

When grown in the tropics, coffee is a vigorous bush or small tree that usually grows to a height of 3–3.5 m (9.8–11.5 ft). Most commonly cultivated coffee species grow best at high elevations, but do not tolerate freezing temperatures.[4]

The tree of Coffea arabica will grow fruits after three to five years, producing for an average of 50 to 60 years, although up to 100 is possible.[5] The white flowers are highly scented. The fruit takes about 9 months to ripen.


The caffeine in coffee "beans" serves as a toxic substance protecting the seeds of the plant, a form of natural plant defense against herbivory. Fruits and leaves also contain caffeine, and can be used to make a tea. (See: Coffee cherry tea) The fruit is also used in many brands of soft drink as well as pre-packaged teas.[6][7][8][9]

Several insect pests affect coffee production, including the coffee borer beetle (Hypothenemus hampei) and the coffee leafminer (Leucoptera caffeina).

Coffee is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) species, Dalcera abrasa, turnip moth and some members of the genus Endoclita, including E. damor and E. malabaricus.


New species of Coffea are still being identified in the 2000s. In 2008 and 2009, researchers from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew named seven from the mountains of northern Madagascar, including C. ambongensis, C. boinensis, C. labatii, C. pterocarpa, C. bissetiae, and C. namorokensis.[10]

In 2008, two new species were discovered in Cameroon. Coffea charrieriana, which is caffeine-free, and Coffea anthonyi.[11] By crossing the new species with other known coffees, two new features might be introduced to cultivated coffee plants: beans without caffeine and self-pollination.

In 2014, the coffee genome was published, with more than 25,000 genes identified. This revealed that coffee plants make caffeine using a different set of genes from those found in tea, cacao and other such plants.[12]


  • Coffea abbayesii J.-F.Leroy
  • Coffea affinis De Wild.
  • Coffea alleizettii Dubard
  • Coffea ambanjensis J.-F.Leroy
  • Coffea ambongenis J.-F.Leroy ex A.P.Davis
  • Coffea andrambovatensis J.-F.Leroy
  • Coffea ankaranensis J.-F.Leroy ex A.P.Davis
  • Coffea anthonyi Stoff. & F.Anthony
  • Coffea arabica L.
  • Coffea arenesiana J.-F.Leroy
  • Coffea augagneurii Dubard
  • Coffea bakossii Cheek & Bridson
  • Coffea benghalensis B.Heyne ex Schult.
  • Coffea bertrandii A.Chev.
  • Coffea betamponensis Portères & J.-F.Leroy
  • Coffea bissetiae A.P.Davis & Rakotonas.
  • Coffea boinensis A.P.Davis & Rakotonas.
  • Coffea boiviniana A.P.Davis & Rakotonas.
  • Coffea bonnieri Dubard
  • Coffea brassii (J.-F.Leroy) A.P.Davis
  • Coffea brevipes Hiern
  • Coffea bridsoniae A.P.Davis & Mvungi
  • Coffea buxifolia A.Chev.
  • Coffea canephora ("Coffea robusta") Pierre ex A.Froehner
  • Coffea carrissoi A.Chev.
  • Coffea charrieriana Stoff. & F.Anthony
  • Coffea cochinchinensis Pierre ex Pit.
  • Coffea commersoniana (Baill.) A.Chev.
  • Coffea congensis A.Froehner
  • Coffea costatifructa Bridson
  • Coffea coursiana J.-F.Leroy
  • Coffea dactylifera Robbr. & Stoff.
  • Coffea decaryana J.-F.Leroy
  • Coffea dubardii Jum.
  • Coffea ebracteolata (Hiern) Brenan
  • Coffea eugenioides S.Moore
  • Coffea fadenii Bridson
  • Coffea farafanganensis J.-F.Leroy
  • Coffea floresiana Boerl.
  • Coffea fotsoana Stoff. & Sonké
  • Coffea fragilis J.-F.Leroy
  • Coffea fragrans Wall. ex Hook.f.
  • Coffea gallienii Dubard
  • Coffea grevei Drake ex A.Chev.
  • Coffea heimii J.-F.Leroy
  • Coffea homollei J.-F.Leroy
  • Coffea horsfieldiana Miq.
  • Coffea humbertii J.-F.Leroy
  • Coffea humblotiana Baill.
  • Coffea humilis A.Chev.
  • Coffea jumellei J.-F.Leroy
  • Coffea kapakata (A.Chev.) Bridson
  • Coffea kianjavatensis J.-F.Leroy
  • Coffea kihansiensis A.P.Davis & Mvungi
  • Coffea kimbozensis Bridson
  • Coffea kivuensis Lebrun
  • Coffea labatii A.P.Davis & Rakotonas.
  • Coffea lancifolia A.Chev.
  • Coffea lebruniana Germ. & Kester
  • Coffea leonimontana Stoff.
  • Coffea leroyi A.P.Davis
  • Coffea liaudii J.-F.Leroy ex A.P.Davis
  • Coffea liberica Hiern
  • Coffea ligustroides S.Moore
  • Coffea littoralis A.P.Davis & Rakotonas.
  • Coffea lulandoensis Bridson
  • Coffea mabesae (Elmer) J.-F.Leroy
  • Coffea macrocarpa A.Rich.
  • Coffea madurensis Teijsm. & Binn. ex Koord.
  • Coffea magnistipula Stoff. & Robbr.
  • Coffea malabarica (Sivar., Biju & P.Mathew) A.P.Davis
  • Coffea mangoroensis Portères
  • Coffea mannii (Hook.f.) A.P.Davis
  • Coffea manombensis A.P.Davis
  • Coffea mapiana Sonké, Nguembou & A.P.Davis
  • Coffea mauritiana Lam.
  • Coffea mayombensis A.Chev.
  • Coffea mcphersonii A.P.Davis & Rakotonas.
  • Coffea melanocarpa Welw. ex Hiern
  • Coffea merguensis Ridl.
  • Coffea millotii J.-F.Leroy
  • Coffea minutiflora A.P.Davis & Rakotonas.
  • Coffea mogenetii Dubard
  • Coffea mongensis Bridson
  • Coffea montekupensis Stoff.
  • Coffea montis-sacri A.P.Davis
  • Coffea moratii J.-F.Leroy ex A.P.Davis & Rakotonas.
  • Coffea mufindiensis Hutch. ex Bridson
  • Coffea myrtifolia (A.Rich. ex DC.) J.-F.Leroy
  • Coffea namorokensis A.P.Davis & Rakotonas.
  • Coffea neobridsoniae A.P.Davis
  • Coffea neoleroyi A.P.Davis
  • Coffea perrieri Drake ex Jum. & H.Perrier
  • Coffea pervilleana (Baill.) Drake
  • Coffea pocsii Bridson
  • Coffea pseudozanguebariae Bridson
  • Coffea pterocarpa A.P.Davis & Rakotonas.
  • Coffea racemosa Lour.
  • Coffea rakotonasoloi A.P.Davis
  • Coffea ratsimamangae J.-F.Leroy ex A.P.Davis & Rakotonas.
  • Coffea resinosa (Hook.f.) Radlk.
  • Coffea rhamnifolia (Chiov.) Bridson
  • Coffea richardii J.-F.Leroy
  • Coffea sahafaryensis J.-F.Leroy
  • Coffea sakarahae J.-F.Leroy
  • Coffea salvatrix Swynn. & Philipson
  • Coffea sambavensis J.-F.Leroy ex A.P.Davis & Rakotonas.
  • Coffea sapinii (De Wild.) A.P.Davis
  • Coffea schliebenii Bridson
  • Coffea semsei (Bridson) A.P.Davis
  • Coffea sessiliflora Bridson
  • Coffea stenophylla G.Don
  • Coffea tetragona Jum. & H.Perrier
  • Coffea togoensis A.Chev.
  • Coffea toshii A.P.Davis & Rakotonas.
  • Coffea travancorensis Wight & Arn.
  • Coffea tricalysioides J.-F.Leroy
  • Coffea tsirananae J.-F.Leroy
  • Coffea vatovavyensis J.-F.Leroy
  • Coffea vavateninensis J.-F.Leroy
  • Coffea vianneyi J.-F.Leroy
  • Coffea vohemarensis A.P.Davis & Rakotonas.
  • Coffea wightiana Wall. ex Wight & Arn.
  • Coffea zanguebariae Lour.


  1. "Coffee Plant: Arabica and Robusta". Coffee Research Institute. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  2. "Coffee: World Markets and Trade" (PDF). United States Department of Agriculture – Foreign Agricultural Service. 16 June 2017. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  3. Davis, Aaron P.; Govaerts, Rafael; Bridson, Diane M. & Stoffelen, Piet (2006). "An annotated taxonomic conspectus of the genus Coffea (Rubiaceae)". Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 152 (4): 465–512. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2006.00584.x.
  4. (PDF) Retrieved 11 December 2018. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. "Coffee bean: commodity factsheet" (PDF). Mintec.
  6. Selby, Craig (31 May 2019). "SlimCafe is no longer available". SlimFast.
  7. "Coffeeberry Cascara - Soluble, Sustainable | FutureCeuticals".
  8. "Starbucks".
  9. "Brazilian Cascara". Dwellers Coffee.
  10. "Seven species of wild coffee amongst Kew's haul of new discoveries". Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 22 December 2009. Archived from the original on 30 August 2016.
  11. Stoffelen, Piet; Noirot, Michel; Couturon, Emmanuel; Anthony, François (2008). "A new caffeine-free coffee from Cameroon". Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 158 (1): 67–72. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2008.00845.x.
  12. Callaway, Ewen (4 September 2014). "Coffee got its buzz by a different route than tea". Nature. doi:10.1038/nature.2014.15832. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
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