Arabica coffee:The Delicate and Flavourful coffee species

Arabica coffee, derived from the Coffea arabica plant, is a well-known and highly regarded variety of coffee known for its mildness, rich flavor and aromatic properties. It is mainly grown in South America, Africa (mainly East Africa) and other regions such as India and Indonesia. In contrast to the Robusta variety, Arabica is considered to be more sensitive and susceptible to pests and requires special growing conditions and altitudes for optimal cultivation.

Origin of Arabica coffee

Arabica coffee was discovered in the "Kaffa" forests of Ethiopia in the seventh century. It was first brought to Yemen by Sufi mystics who visited Ethiopia in the 15th century, where it was grown as a crop. The plant's journey from Ethiopia to what is now Yemen and Lower Arabia led to the term "Arabica" being coined for the coffee plant.

The Arabica species is native to Ethiopia , where the greatest genetic diversity of the species is found. The main seeds brought to Yemen from Ethiopia are believed to have been related to the Bourbon and Typica varieties, which spread worldwide and formed the basis for most modern Arabica coffee cultivation.

Properties of Arabica coffee

Arabica coffee is known for its excellent taste and is preferred for specialty coffees due to its complex and broad flavor profile. It is known for being less bitter and having higher natural sugar and acid content compared to Robusta coffee. Additionally, Arabica coffee contains less caffeine than Robusta coffee, making it an ideal choice for those who prefer a milder coffee.

Arabica contains over 60% more lipids and almost twice as much sugar as Robusta. The lipids and sugars contained in raw coffee beans are the precursors of aroma and taste and have a significant influence on the quality of the coffee.

Read our comprehensive guide on the difference between Arabica and Robusta

Cultivation and production

The Arabica coffee tree thrives in subtropical climates, the so-called "Coffee Belt", in shade and on nutrient-rich soil. It can reach a height of up to 5 meters. The Arabica plant prefers temperatures between 15°C and 24°C and an annual rainfall of 1200 to 2200 mm.

Arabica coffee plants thrive in highlands and mountains, usually at an altitude of 900 to 2,000 meters. Compared to Robusta, it requires more care and attention as it is susceptible to pests and diseases. Therefore, Arabica coffee is often grown in smaller farms that can provide the necessary conditions for its cultivation.

Arabica cherries ripen faster than Robusta cherries, reaching maturity at around 9 months. An Arabica tree can produce up to 4 kilograms of coffee cherries per season.

Countries where Arabica coffee is grown

  • Brazil
  • Colombia
  • Ethiopia
  • Kenya
  • Mexico
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Yemen

Arabica coffee types

There are different varieties of Arabica coffee (C. arabica), each with unique characteristics and adapting to local conditions. The most commonly grown Arabica coffees include Bourbon and Typica , which have spread worldwide and form the basis of most modern Arabica coffees.


The Typica variety is originally from Yemen and was brought to Malabar, India in 1670 by Baba Budan, an Indian Sufi saint, before spreading to Indonesia and the Philippines. It later spread to the West Indies, particularly to the French colony of Martinique. Typica has evolved genetically over time, resulting in the development of new traits that are often considered a new variety. Typica has given rise to a variety of cultivars including Kona (Hawaii), Sumatra (Indonesia), and Blue Mountain (Jamaica).

Typica is a tall plant with a low yield of high quality beans . It does well in the coldest climates and is susceptible to various coffee diseases, including coffee leaf rust.

Due to its low yield and its susceptibility to coffee diseases, the Typica was gradually displaced in South and Central America. However, it is still widely grown in Peru, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica (Jamaica Blue Mountain).


French missionaries brought Bourbon to the island of Bourbon (now La Réunion) in French in 1708 and gave it its current name. Bourbon remained on the island until the mid-nineteenth century. However, as missionaries traveled to Africa and the Americas beginning in the mid-18th century, bourbon spread to new regions.

Bourbon was introduced to Brazil in 1860 and has since spread to other South and Central American countries, where it is still grown today. Bourbon coffee is grown worldwide, but most commonly in the South American countries, which most closely resemble the climate of Reunion Island (formerly "Bourbon").

Today, bourbon in South America has largely been replaced by its successor varieties such as Caturra, Catuai and Mundo Novo. However, bourbon is still grown in many countries.

Bourbon has wider leaves and larger cherries than Typica. It grows best at altitudes between 1,100 and 2,000 meters above sea level , especially in mountainous areas. Bourbon trees are not very productive, but they produce about 20-30% more than Typica. This level of productivity is sufficient for commercial cultivation.


Caturra is a natural mutation of the Bourbon variety and was first discovered in Brazil. It grows better in Colombia and South America. It is shorter and bushier than Bourbon and has a higher yield than Bourbon.

Caturra is a compact plant with the potential to produce high yields of standard quality coffee.


Catuai, a short, bushy hybrid of Caturra and Mundo Novo, is known for its high yield. It requires a lot of attention and fertilization to thrive and produces yellow or red cherries known for their fruity flavor.

Mundo Novo

Mundo Novo is the product of a natural cross between the Bourbon and Typica varieties in Brazil. It is a vigorous and high-yielding plant that produces high-quality coffee, but is also susceptible to common coffee diseases. It is still widely grown in South America.

Global significance

Arabica coffee occupies a significant position in the global coffee market, accounting for approximately 60% of global coffee production . The main producers of Arabica coffee include countries such as Brazil, Colombia and Ethiopia. Its popularity is due to the higher quality of the beans and the complex, pleasant flavors.


In conclusion, Arabica coffee is very popular among coffee lovers due to its pleasant taste and aromatic properties. Even though growing Arabica coffee requires care and special conditions, it is still valued for its exceptional quality and unique sensory experience.