Coffee is believed to originate from Africa. Today, coffee is widely farmed in Latin America, Asia-Pacific, and Africa. Coffee trees grow well in tropical or subtropical climate, highland or lowland. Coffee is harvested to get to the seeds that will then be made into drinks or other types of food to consume.
In Indonesia, coffee was first brought by the Dutch in 1896. They introduced Arabica coffee. After, there was a nationwide attack from leaf rust disease (HV) that caused mass death of coffee trees all over Indonesia. Then, colonial government introduced liberica and robusta coffee that were more resistant to HV disease.
Farmed Coffee Types
The most popular type of coffee is the Arabica. Coffee drinkers appreciate Arabica more than any other kind. Some deciding factors on coffee quality include growing habitat, farming technique, post-harvest management, and seed processing.
There are many, many types of coffee on earth. However, there are only four types of coffee that people farm and cultivate and trade globally. The rest is either grown and collected in research facilities or grown wild in nature.
The four types of farmed coffee are Arabica, robusta, liberica, and excelsa. About 70% of coffee in the world market is Arabica coffee. On second place we have robusta with 28% and the rest belongs to liberica and excelsa.
Arabica coffee (Coffea arabica) is a type of coffee that is most liked because its taste is deemed best by most coffee drinkers. It’s recommended to grow them at 1000-2100 m above sea level, but they will still grow well at least at 800 m above sea level. Grown on lowland, though, this coffee can be really vulnerable to the HV disease.
Arabica grows optimally in 16-20 degree celcius. To get good harvest result, arabica needs about three dry months per year. Arabica is ready to harvest after it hits the 4 year mark with productivity averaging on 350-400 kg per hectare per year, or cared intensively, can reach up to 1500-2000 kg per hectare per year.
When they’re ripe, arabica coffee fruits are bright red in color. Ripe fruits are very easy to fall off and left as they are, they will absorb strange odor from the soil thus lowering their quality. It’s best to harvest them before they fall off. The percentage of fruits in planted green beans is about 18-20%.
Arabica coffee farmers are used to process coffee fruits with the wet process, so even though it’s more expensive and takes longer time, the coffee bean quality is way better.
Robusta coffee (Coffea canephora) is more tolerant to the height of its habitat. Robusta grows well at 400-800 m above sea level in 21-24 degree celcius temperature. This type of coffee is suitable for lowland farming whereas arabica coffee is vulnerable to HV disease.
Robusta coffee blooms faster than arabica and is ready for harvest at 2.5 years old even though the result will not be optimal just yet. Robusta’s productivity averages higher than arabica which is about 900-1300 kg per hectare per year with intensified care productivity can reach up to 2000 kg per hectare per year.
To fruit well, robusta coffee needs 3-4 months of dry, hot year with several times rain. Robusta fruits are round in shape and dark red in color. Robusta fruits stick tightly to their branches even after they’re ripe. The percentage of fruits in planted green beans is about 22%.
Coffee drinkers like robusta less than arabica, in general. Because the trade price is cheap, farmers usually process robusta coffee beans with the cheaper dry process.
Liberica coffee (Coffea liberica) can grow well on lowland where Arabica and robusta cannot grow anymore. This type of coffee is the most resistant to HV disease. Leaf size, branch reach, and tree height of liberica is also higher than arabica and robusta.
The quality of liberica coffee is deemed lower than both arabica and robusta. The fruit sizes vary even in one cluster. The yield is also really low, only about 12%. Those are why farmers are reluctant to cultivate liberica.
Liberica productivity averages on 400-500 kg per hectare per year. Liberica blooms all year long and its primary branch lasts longer. In one segment, blooming can happen more than once. In Indonesia, this type of coffee is farmed in Java and Lampung.
Excelsa coffee (coffea excelsa) is even more tolerant to the height of its habitat. Excelsa grows well in lowland at 0-750 m above sea level. This type of coffee can withstand high temperature and low humidity.
Excelsa coffee tree can grow up to 20 meters. Its leaves are big and wide and grayish green in color. The fruit skin is very soft; you can peel it off by hand. Excelsa coffee productivity averages on 800-1200 kg per hectare per year. Excelsa coffee can also grow on peatlands. In Indonesia, excelsa can be found limitedly in West Tanjung Jabung, Jambi.