Coffea arabica – Arabica coffee


Life cycle of coffee with red coffee cherries, white flowers, green coffee beans, and roasted and brewed cup of coffee

A small tree with compound leaves, berries ripen unevenly with green to red berries (containing the bean inside), and white flowers. Plant leaves are arranged opposite each other.

Plant Growth

Trees take 3-4 years before becoming reproductive and producing the coffee cherry, which are the ripe red coffee berries.

Distribution and Habitat

Coffea arabica requires humid climates, regular rainfall, and high altitudes. It grows between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, worldwide. It is native to Ethiopia.


Pollinated by insects, wind, cross-pollination, and self-pollination.


  • Common: Used for caffeinated drinks, tea from leaves, and as an ingredient in cooking/baking.
  • Pharmacological properties: Caffeine is used as a stimulent to provide alertness, increase memory, and added to pain relievers.
  • Medicinal effects: Used in the treatment of flu, asthma, pulmonary problems, fainting, and to accelerate labor.
  • Toxicological effects: Has diuretic properties. Some people can be allergic to the plant or caffeine.


  • “Ten Steps To Coffee.” National Coffee Association. National Coffee Association, n.d. Web. 30 July 2015. <>.
  • “Coffea arabica L.” Coffea arabica. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 July 2015. <
  • “Coffea arabica.” National Tropical Botanical Garden. National Tropical Botanical Garden, n.d. Web. 30 July 2015. <>.
  • Klein, Alexandra-Maria, Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, and Teja Tscharntke. “Bee Pollination and Fruit Set of Coffea arabica and C. Canephora (Rubiaceae).” American Journal of Botany 90.1 (2003): 153-57. American Journal of Botany. American Journal of Botany, 19 July 2002. Web. 30 July 2015. <>.
  • “Differences: Arabica and Robusta Coffee.”, 23
  • Apr. 2015. Web. 30 July 2015. <>.

This article was contributed by Kaley Taylor (BBIO 220 SUM’15) and Sarah Verlinde. For questions regarding the UWB/CC Plant Tour, contact Sarah at Photos are public domain images.