The coffee plant is an evergreen shrub belonging to the Rubiaceae family, genus Coffea. The most widely cultivated species are Coffea Arabica and Coffea Conephora, better known as Arabica and Robusta. The coffee plant thrives in the zone between the two tropics and its natural habitat is found in areas where the temperature varies between 15 and 25 °C and the altitude ranges from 200 to 2000 m above sea level. For optimal growth, this plant requires soil rich in nitrogen, potassium and humus, exposure to sun, inclined ground surface and a good distribution of rainfall.The cultivation of coffee begins in the nursery, where thousands of carefully selected seeds are germinated and grown to a height of 50 cm. After about a year, the most healthy and vigorous of these are transferred to plantations. After the first three years needed to reach maturity, the plants start to bloom with dense clusters of small white flowers and, a few days later, the cherries appear. Green at first, the cherries take seven months to ripen, turning red and then a very dark brown, almost black, colour. After harvesting, any foreign bodies amongst the cherries are removed and then the next step is the extraction of the seeds from the cherry, using either wet or dry methods. Before it is ready for market, the coffee has still to be cleaned and graded. Then it is ready to be taken to the ports and exported to consumer countries.

Coffee has been classified by the World Health Organisation as a "non-nutritive dietary component". This means that even though it contains many nutrients and a large number of components, it is not considered to be a food.

Main chemical constituents of coffee

Arabica Robusta
Green Coffee Roasted Coffee Green Coffee Roasted Coffee
Caffeine 0,9-1,2 1 1,6-2,4 2
Minerals 3-4,2 3,5-4,5 4-4,5 4,6-5
Protein 11-13 13-15 11-13 13-15
Fats 12-18 14,5-20 9-13 11-16
Oligosaccharides 6-8 0-3.5 5-7 0-3.5
Chlorogenic Acid 6,5 2,5 10 3,8
Water 10-13 1-5 10-13 1-5

Info and sources

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Kozuma K, Tsuchiya S, Kohori J, Hase T, Tokimitsu I. “Antihypertensive effect of green coffee bean extract on mildly hypertensive subjects.” Hypertens Res. 2005 Sep;28(9):711-8.
Onakpoya I, Terry R, Ernst E. “The use of green coffee extract as a weight loss supplement: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised clinical trials.” Gastroenterol Res Pract. 2011;2011. pii: 382852.
Shimoda H, Seki E, Aitani M. “Inhibitory effect of green coffee bean extract on fat accumulation and body weight gain in mice.” BMC Complement Altern Med. 2006 Mar 17;6:9.

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