Coffea arabica originated in Ethiopia. It now accounts for 70% of the world's coffee production.
The ideal environment for Arabica is an elevation between 500 and 2,000 meters with an average temperature of 22 Celsius. Higher altitudes improve the flavour of the coffee while promoting greater yields. Arabica does very well in the forests of Central and South America.
Coffea arabica has many different varieties, but the best-known are "Typica" and "Bourbon". Most Arabica plants have dark green leaves which are oval in shape. Its fruit is oval shaped and contain two seeds which are the coffee beans. The fruit matures in seven to nine months.
Arabica is more susceptible to disease and insect damage than Robusta coffee. Plant breeding programs try to develop Arabica plants which have more resistance to pests and diseases.
Arabica has much more flavour than Robusta beans. The superior flavour and increased susceptibility to disease makes Arabica more expensive than Robusta. Only 3% of the total Arabica harvest is graded "Specialty", while an even smaller amount is labelled "Mayorga".
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Mitchell, H. W. 1988. Cultivation and Harvesting of the Arabica Coffee Tree. Coffee: Agronomy. Ed. R.J. Clarke. New York: Elsevier Applied Science.
Nutman, F. J. 1933. The Root System of Coffea Arabica L. I: Root systems in typical soils of British East Africa. II: The effect of some soil conditions in modifying the normal root system. Emp J Exp Agric. 1: 271-84, 285-96.