Coffee Arabica represents approximately seventy percent of the world's coffee production. Dried beans are roasted, grounded, and brewed to make one of the most popular drinks in the western world. Despite its name, coffee Arabica originated in Ethiopia where it grows at elevations between 1,375 to 1,830 m. It is believed the introduction into Arabia happened prior to the 15th century. The first planted coffee was in Java, 1690, and in the beginning of the 18th century it was carried to Surinam, Martinique, and Jamaica. Soon the cultivation spread throughout the West Indies and Central America and the favorable regions of South America. Later, it reached India and Sri Lanka.
The Arabica plant is an evergreen, typically large bush with dark green, oval shaped leaves that can reach a height up to twenty feet. To facilitate harvesting, it must be always at a height of about nine feet. After planting, the Arabica trees produce their first crop in three years. The arabica plant can successfully produce fruits for about forty years. Each tree can produce eight to ten pounds of coffee a year, depending on climate conditions and other factors. The Arabica beans may be of different types according to the country and conditions they are grown in.
The largest producers of coffee Arabica are: Brazil, Colombia, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Angola, Uganda, Indonesia, El Salvador, Ethiopia, and Guatemala. Brazil is the No.1 worldwide in cultivating coffee Arabica; however, the types grown here are rather cheap and are not considered to be really good. The best tasting coffee is produced in Colombia - the main producer of mountain coffee, which gives a more refined taste and has high extract qualities. Mexico produces a type of coffee Arabica with a pleasant sourish taste. Yemen grows a very popular and expensive type of coffee Arabica - Mocha, which has a distinguishing taste of bitter chocolate. Nevertheless, it is not produced in large quantities, thus, what you actually get as Mocha in coffee shops is a usual Espresso with cocoa or chocolate.
Classical coffee Arabica is recognized by its soft but rich taste and aroma. Sometimes raw beans smell like blueberries. Roasted beans' smell is perfumery with fruity notes and sugary tones.
Robusta, one of the two main species of the coffee plant, can substitute coffee Arabica. It is much stronger, although has less flavor and lower taste qualities. Due to its inexpensiveness and availability, Robusta is used as a substitution for coffee Arabica in many commercial coffee blends such as Folgers, Maxwell House and almost all instant coffee products. Coffee aficionados may distinguish Robusta by a bitterer, with a tell-tale "burnt rubber" aroma and flavor. Robusta is also an essential part of almost all coffee blends.
It should also be mentioned that Arabica does not always mean a high quality. Much of the coffee grown throughout the world is Arabica, and, unfortunately, many of it is garbage, consequently, do not assume that buying Arabica you are getting a quality coffee.
Coffee beans should be kept in a cool dark place and in an air tight container. Contrary to what you may have heard, freezing your coffee is NOT a good idea. Freezing removes the moisture from the coffee and will degrade its quality over time. It is best to purchase coffee on a weekly or bi-weekly basis to insure its freshness.