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Coffea is a Genus of Flowering Plants in the Rubiaceae family.

Coffea grow as shrubs or small trees and are native to the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa and Asia.

Aarushi Chadha
Representational image. (Photo Courtesy: Pexels)
Representational image. (Photo Courtesy: Pexels)

The seeds of Coffea are called coffee beans and are used to make caffeinated beverages and products.

Coffee was introduced to India by an Indian Muslim Saint called Baba Budan who smuggled some coffee beans to India while returning from a pilgrimage to Mecca.

Coffee production in India primarily takes place in Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu. It is also grown in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland, and Arunachal Pradesh.

Indian coffee makes up just under 5% of the global production and over 80% of it is exported to countries like Belgium, Germany, Italy, and Slovenia. United States, Japan, Greece, Russia, and Spain.


In India, the major coffee cultivation growing states are Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Odisha. Countries with the highest coffee production are- Brazil, Vietnam, Columbia, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Honduras, Uganda, Mexico, Guatemala, and India.

Types of Coffee

There are several different varieties of coffee beans are-

Arabica Coffee Beans (Coffea Arabica)- Arabica coffee beans are the most popular type of coffee beans and make up 60% of the world’s coffee. These beans are native to the highlands of Ethiopia and are even considered the first coffee beans ever consumed. These beans are grown at high altitudes and need to be in an area that has steady rainfall and plenty of shade. Arabica beans are pricier because they are harder to grow. The arabica plants are smaller in size and are incredibly susceptible to plant diseases. The Arabica beans are known for their smooth, complex flavour with a distinct lack of bitterness.

Robusta Coffee Beans (Coffee Caniphora)- Robusta is the second most popular type of coffee bean and originated in Sub-Saharan Africa and is now grown primarily in Africa and Indonesia. Compared to the Arabica plant, the Robusta plant grows double the amount of caffeine in its beans. Robusta beans tend to be larger and more rounded than the other bean varieties. Robusta beans are typically considered easier to grow because they are resistant to diseases and can grow at lower altitudes. These beans have a strong smell and have a harsher and more bitter taste.

Liberica Coffee Beans (Coffea Liberica)

Native to central and western Africa, Liberica coffee beans are known for their unusually nutty and woody flavours. The Liberica coffee bean is larger than the other beans and is known for having an irregular shape. This hardy species is frequently mixed with other varieties to add body and complexity. The Liberica coffee plant can tolerate hot humid climates and can even grow at low altitudes.

Excelsa Coffee Beans (Coffea Excelsa)

Coffea Excelsa is the fourth major type of coffee bean. Originally, this coffee variety was classified as a member of the Liberica family. However, the Excelsa variety has a vastly different taste when compared to the Liberica coffee bean. This variety of coffee bean grows almost entirely in Southeast Asia and is shaped as elongated ovals. In terms of flavour, Excelsa beans have tarty notes and fruity flavours with flavours that are more reminiscent of dark roasts. They are also lighter on aroma and caffeine. 

Climate and Soil Requirements


The ideal temperature for Coffee Arabica to grow ranges between 10 degrees and 28 degrees Celsius.


The Robusta coffee variety requires at least 1000 to 2000 mm of rainfall. This variety requires a backing shower during April and May, and Blossom Shower between February and March. Arabica coffee variety requires at least 1600 to 2500 mm of rainfall with a backing shower during April and May, and a blossom shower between March and April.


Coffee crops can grow on a wide range of soils. Shallow soils, such as sandy loam, with good organic matter to virgin soils on steep mountain slopes or flatlands. The pH of the soil should be maintained between 5.0 to 6.0.

Land Preparation

Before sowing seeds, test the soil and supplement any nutrient deficiencies with fertilizers

When planting coffee in mountainous areas, terracing should be done.

After the first rain of the summer, pits 45 cm × 45 cm × 45 cm are dug at 1.25 to 2.5 m apart.

The pits should be left open for weathering and then filled for planting.

When filling the pits, it is recommended to apply 500 grams of phosphate rock per pit.

Varieties of Coffee




Selection 1 (S288)

Tetraploid hybrid from S26 (natural cross- C. Liberica × C. arabica

Resistance to leaf rust race 1 & 2, high yielding, wider adaptability


F4 of a cross between Caturra × Hibrido-de-Timor

Comes to bearing within three years yield potential 2.5 t/ha, amenable for close planting, resistant to almost all races of leaf rust

Selection 3 (S795)

Cross Between S. 288 × Kent

Resistance to leaf rust race 1 and 2, 700 to 1200 kg/ha, bold fruits 75% A grade

Sin 7. (San Ramon hybrids)

San Ramon- a short internode arabica type

Dwarf in stature but segregates to tall by 30%

Selection 5

Devamachy × S-881

Small, oblong fruits 900 to 1100 kg/ha

Sin. 8 (Hibrido-de-Timor)

A spontaneous hybrid of robusta-arabica

The highest vertical resistance to leaf rust, phenotype, and bean quality resembles arabica.

Selection 6z

s-274 (Robusta) × Kents

High A grade beans, 900-1000 kg/ha

Sin. 9

Sin.8 × Tafarikela

Drought hardy, suitable for different coffee zones

Selection 10

Double cross hybrid, Cattura × (S795 XHDT)

Resistant to leaf rust

Selection 11

Progency of C. Liberica × C. eugenoides

Field resistance to rust and drought hardiness

Selection 12

Cross Caturra × HDT, followed by selfing

Precocious, suitable for close planting, and resistant to leaf rust.

Seed Selection for Planting Coffee

While selecting seeds, ensure that the seeds are heavy broad, and boat-shaped.

Remove pulp from seeds by hand and rub the seeds with ash in order to avoid any sticking.

The seeds should be allowed to dry under shade.

Plant Spacing

The spacing of coffee seeds depends upon the variety of coffee. For instance, Arabica coffee seeds should be sowed 1.5 m × 2.0 m either way, dwarf coffee varieties should be sowed 1m × 1m, and Robusta coffee is space 2.5m either way.

Season for Coffee

Coffee is propagated by seeds and the planting spreads between June to December.


How often the coffee crop is irrigated depends on the type of soil, moisture level in the soil, plant age, and climate.

Several methods of irrigation can be adopted in coffee growing like drip irrigation, sprinkler irrigation, microjet, and basin irrigation.

Coffee is generally grown as a rainfed crop.

Irrigation with sprinklers during March-April increases blossoming and results in higher yields.

Harvesting and Yield of Coffee

Coffee fruits should be picked as and when they become ripe to get better quality.

Usually, Arabica takes at least 8 to 9 months for fruit development, whereas Robusta takes 10 to 11 months.

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