Coffea arabica berries

Coffea arabica berries

Coffea arabica or coffee plant is one of the 60 species of the genus Coffea, half of which come from Africa.

It is believed this is the first species of coffee that was cultivated: it is grown in southwest Arabia for more than 1,000 years.

Now mainly Coffea canephora (robusta) is grown industrially. Coffea Arabica contains less caffeine than other coffees and would have the best taste.

It is not frost resistant but can be kept indoors in pots and may be placed outside in the summer. It is a beautiful shrub with glossy dark green leaves.


Coffea arabica is a small tree or shrub, 9-12 m high, which prefers the shade of larger trees.

The leaves are not deciduous, glossy dark green, elliptic to oblong-ovate, with a short petiole, 6-12 cm long and 4-8 cm wide.

The flowers are white, 10-15 mm in diameter and grow in axillary clusters of 3-7 flowers.

The fruit is a drupe (not a berry), 10-15 mm in diameter, bright red to purple when mature and usually contains two seeds (coffee).


Common names:

Arabian coffee, Arabica coffee, Coffee, Coffee plant, Coffee tree


Coffea bourbonica, Coffea corymbulosa, Coffea laurifolia, Coffea moka, Coffea sundana, Coffea vulgaris


Coffea: derived from the Arab ḳahwa (coffee).
Arabica: Latin for Arabic.

Coffea arabica plant

Coffea arabica plant


East Africa: Ethiopia, Sudan and Kenya, between 0 and 5,000 m altitude.


Originally found in highlands, as undergrowth.


Zone USDA 10-11, -2 °C



Coffee plants prefer a loamy soil with bark or gravel for drainage. The optimum pH is 6.5. They should be repotted every year or when the pot has become too small.


As much sun as possible during the summer, you can place the pot outside. In the winter it does well indoors with a minimum temperature of 12 °C, preferably at a south facing window. It continues to grow and might even blossom.


Give plenty of water but let the rootball dry out completely between waterings, especially in winter.


Give fertilizer rich in potash (potassium carbonate) in the spring, tomato fertilizer for example.

Coffea arabica flowers

Coffea arabica flowers


By seed or cuttings (difficult).

Sowing instructions:

  • you can use fresh coffee beans sold for roasting: although the seeds have received a treatment, they still have their germination power. But it’s best to buy fresh seed and, ideally, the whole ripe berry (red or brown).
  • get rid of all flesh
  • soak the seeds for 24 h (optional)
  • sow in a light mix, at 4 cm depth in a high pot: the plant produces a deep taproot
  • keep moist but not wet
  • place in a warm, sunny place until the seeds germinate
  • germination duration: 2 months
  • repot the seedlings when they are large enough to handle