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PNG images: Coffee Bean

A coffee seed, commonly called coffee bean, is a seed of the coffee plant, and is the source for coffee. It is the pit inside the red or purple fruit often referred to as a cherry. Just like ordinary cherries, the coffee fruit is also a so-called stone fruit. Even though the coffee beans are seeds, they are referred to as "beans" because of their resemblance to true beans. The fruits – coffee cherries or coffee berries – most commonly contain two stones with their flat sides together. A small percentage of cherries contain a single seed, instead of the usual two. This is called a "peaberry". The peaberry occurs only between 10 and 15% of the time, and it is a fairly common (yet scientifically unproven) belief that they have more flavour than normal coffee beans. Like Brazil nuts (a seed) and white rice, coffee beans consist mostly of endosperm.

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Did you know

The two most economically important varieties of coffee plant are the Arabica and the Robusta; 75–80% of the coffee produced worldwide is Arabica and 20% is Robusta. Arabica beans consist of 0.8–1.4% caffeine and Robusta beans consist of 1.7–4% caffeine. As coffee is one of the world's most widely consumed beverages, coffee beans are a major cash crop and an important export product, counting for over 50% of some developing nations' foreign exchange earnings.

According to popular legend, the coffee plant was discovered in Ethiopia by a goatherd named Kaldi.


Significant dates

  • The first coffee plant was found in the mountains of Yemen. Then by 1500, it was exported to the rest of the world through the port of Mokha in Yemen.

  • First cultivation in India (Chikmagalur) – 1600

  • First cultivation in Europe (also first cultivation outside of east Africa/Arabia) – 1616

  • First cultivation in Java – 1699

  • First cultivation in Caribbean (Cuba, Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), Jamaica, Puerto Rico) – 1715–1730

  • First cultivation in South America – 1730

  • First cultivation in Dutch East Indies – 1720

  • The plants were first introduced in the Americas around 1723.

  • Roasted beans first sold on retail market (Pittsburgh) – 1865

  • Important spray-drying techniques developed in 1950s


South America is now responsible for about 45% of the world's total coffee exports. Most of this coffee is grown in Brazil.

The United States imports more coffee than any other nation. The per capita consumption of coffee in the United States in 2011 was 4.24 kg (9 lbs), and the value of coffee imported exceeded $8 billion. As of 2015, Americans consumed approximately 400 million cups of coffee per day, making the United States the leading consumer of coffee in the world.

Coffee plants grow within a defined area between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, termed the bean belt or coffee belt.

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