Produced all over the world; in Africa, Asia and even the Americas, The Arabica bean makes a wonderful cup of coffee. Research suggests that Arabica was the first cultivated variety of coffee beans. It has certainly retained its popularity over the centuries, being even today the most commonly cultivated coffee plant in the world. The plants take about seven years from planting to maturity. The coffee cherries of the plant contain the prize: Arabica coffee beans. For these beans to live up to their potential and make that perfect cup of coffee, the beans must be harvested at just the right time.
In comparison to other varieties of coffee beans, Arabica beans contain less caffeine. Yield is also lower compared to for instance, the Robusta plant, with an average Arabica coffee bush producing about one pound of coffee annually. Steep slopes and high elevations (though usually no higher than six thousand feet) seem to serve these plants well, as they allow the plants to receive ample sunlight needed for them to produce to their capacity.
The Wet Process
After harvesting, Arabica coffee beans are processed in one of two ways. One is known as the wet process. When prepared in this manner, fermentation is used to separate the beans from the husk. The Arabica coffee beans are soaked for several days, then dried in the sun for as long as six weeks. The beans are raked constantly by day, and taken inside for protection from the elements by night.
The Dry Process
In the dry process. Arabica coffee beans are not soaked so as to remove the husks. The husks are allowed to stay on and slowly dry along with the Arabica beans.
Depending on where the plant has been grown, the Arabica coffee bean can vary greatly in flavor according to its region of origin. There are varieties with flavors which remind the drinker of chocolate, spice or caramel. Arabica beans are usually preferred to Robusta by the coffee lover. Robusta beans are certainly far cheaper than Arabica, but have an overly acidic and woody taste not preferred by many (though the bean certainly has its place in blends). Arabica beans produce a cup with balanced acidity and a pleasantly mild flavor: in short, Arabica beans are the way to go to make a great cup of coffee.