What is Arabica Coffee? Let's Find Out

When it comes to the most popular hot beverages in the world, coffee tops the charts, next only to tea. Considering the kick of caffeine a cup of coffee can give to elevate the energy levels and make the day productive, millions of people prefer to begin their day with it. The rich caffeine content is also one of the factors behind the bold flavour and unmistakably refreshing aroma of coffee. Over 60% of the overall coffee produced world-over comes from the Arabica coffee plant while the second most popular variety is robusta coffee.

What is Arabica Coffee?

Arabica coffee or Coffea Arabica, made from the Arabica coffee beans is also known as the Adam or Eve of coffee since it is likely the first type of coffee ever to be cultivated. The origin of Arabica coffee can be traced back to about 1000 BC in a region of the present-day south-western highlands of Ethiopia.

The practice of making a brew from roasted Arabica coffee beans originated in Yemen and spread among the Egyptians and Turks, eventually, propagated far and wide across the world. The mild taste and intense aroma of this coffee make it a favourite among coffee drinkers. According to a well-known Italian coffee grower Ernesto Illy, the caffeine in Arabica coffee never exceeds 1.5 percent by weight. In the June 2002 issue of Scientific American, he also wrote, “Coffee made from arabica beans has an intense, intricate aroma that can be reminiscent of flowers, fruit, honey, chocolate, caramel or toasted bread.”

High-quality Arabica coffee has a milder taste with interesting, layered, and complex notes of sugar, fruit, and berries. Their acidity is slight or pleasant and the taste is bitter. The sweet taste may have hints of nuts, chocolate, or caramel and flavour varies depending upon the area of cultivation.

In India, there are more than 4,500 coffee plantations. Arabica coffee is cultivated in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka. With record production of 2,33,230 metric tonnes, Karnataka is the largest producer of coffee in India. Among the various coffee species in Karnataka, Coorg Arabica, Chikmaglur Arabica, Araku Valley Arabica, and Bababudangiris Arabica coffee are the varieties which have earned the GI Certification from the Government of India.

Araku Valley Arabica and Bababudangiris Arabica coffee are among the varieties of organic Arabica coffee which are grown with the organic approach and processed using natural fermentation.

Why is it called Arabica Coffee?

what is arabica coffee

The name Arabica is also synonymous with “Arabian coffee” or “coffee shrub of Arabia”. The coffee derives the name owing to the fact that Arabica coffee beans were taken from Ethiopia to lower Arabia (now Yemen) sometime in the 7th century and it was in Arabia, that coffee was brewed for the first time. Tracing the first recorded history of the brewing of coffee as a hot beverage from roasted beans, you can find that in the 12th century, Arab scholars noted that coffee helped them prolong their work hours. Coffee, as we know it today, therefore, is technically an Arab innovation which travelled across the world with the traders and scholars.

Types of Coffee Arabica

Brazil is the largest producer of Arabica coffee in the world. Some of the other countries where high-quality Arabica coffee can be found are Costa Rica, Mexico, Guatemala, Rwanda, Ecuador, Ethiopia, and India. Varying from region to region, dozens of varieties from the large family of Arabica coffee are grown. Some of the most common varieties are Typica, Bourbon, Caturra, Catimor, Catuai, Gesha, Jackson, Jamaican Blue Mountain, Jember, Kent, Kona, Maragogype, Maracatu/ Maracaturra, Mocca/ Mokha, Mundo Novo, Pacamara, Pacas, Pache, Villalobos, etc.

Among these, the varieties grown in India are:

Kent: One of the earliest varieties of Arabica coffee, Kent, is best known for its exceptional cup quality. Although Kent Arabica was extremely popular with the planters during the 1940s, however, its production, today, is limited to only a few areas.

Catimor: Also known as Cauvery in India, Catimor is a hybrid between Caturra and Hybrido-de-Timor. Caturra is a natural mutant of the world's famous Bourbon variety. Cauvery is known for its high yielding and superior quality attributes and is highly infused with the resistance from Hybrido-de-Timor.

  1. 795: This is probably the most commonly planted Arabica in India as well as Southeast Asia. S 795 is best known for its balanced cup and subtle flavour notes of Mocca. This variety has relative tolerance for leaf rust and yields superior quality, bold Arabica coffee beans. It is another favourite of the planters and is widely cultivated.

Selection 9: It is an award-winning cross between Tafarikela and Hybrido-de-Timor, both of which belong to the Ethiopian Arabica collection. Selection 9 is celebrated for the superior cup quality traits it has inherited from Tafarikela.

When it comes to organic Arabica coffee, S. 795 is a most favoured variety because of its wider adaptability to local conditions and higher resilience against pests and diseases.

Health benefits of Arabica Coffee

The Coffee Research Organization estimated that about 70% of the world’s coffee is made from Arabica coffee beans. Arabica offers numerous nutritional benefits when consumed in moderation and with limited flattening additives.

While you enjoy your cup of refreshing rich coffee, you can be assured that you are reaping great benefits for your health as well. Here is how coffee does a great deal of good to you:

1. It naturally holds caffeine

When consumed in moderate quantities, Arabica coffee is a great source of caffeine which aids energy boost to wake you up. As per the Academy of Sustenance and Dietetics, consuming not more than 200 mg – 300 mg of coffee daily can help you enjoy the caffeine kick without the side effects on your health like hypertension, sleep disorders, and anxiety.

2. It is rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants

Arabica coffee beans are rich in plant-based antioxidants which is known to have special anti-inflammatory effects. Regular consumption of black coffee can also help keep certain chronic diseases at bay. Phytonutrients are another form of plant compounds that further boost the antioxidant properties of coffee which fight against the free radicals damaging cells.

3. It packs useful vitamins and minerals

A regular cup of coffee boasts of 0.6 mg of manganese, 0.5 mg of niacin, 7 mg of magnesium, and also trace elements of riboflavin (Vitamin B). Regular consumption of coffee helps restore these minerals and vitamins in your body keeping up heart health and maintains youthfulness of your body.

4. It is a great source of electrolytes and hydration

More than 90% of a cup of coffee is water, this is a significant contribution to your daily water intake. Although Arabica coffee is known to have diuretic properties, it has been established by the Coffee and Health organisation that moderate consumption of fewer than 5 cups of coffee a day is safe to avoid its diuretic effects. In fact, every cup of coffee that you consume can boost your system with 116 mg of potassium with only a touch of sodium, which is great news if you are concerned about controlling your blood pressure.

5. It aids weight loss

A regular cup of black coffee amounts to 0 calories and still gives an energy surge. It is for this reason, that coffee is one of the most preferred beverages amongst those watching weight. In fact, in certain diets, adding a teaspoonful of good fats like coconut oil to your regular coffee has also been known to boost metabolism, thus aiding weight loss.

Coffee is a staple drink all over the world and for all the good reasons. Moreover, Arabica coffee beans are great whether you opt for a drip or a pour-over coffee.

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