A coffee bean is a seed of the coffee plant, and is the source for coffee. It is the pit inside the red or purple fruit often referred to as a cherry. Even though they are seeds, they are incorrectly referred to as ‘beans’ because of their resemblance to true beans. The fruits – coffee cherries or coffee berries – most commonly contain two stones with their flat sides together. A small percentage of cherries contain a single seed, instead of the usual two. This is called a peaberry. Like Brazil nuts (a seed) and white rice, coffee seeds consist mostly of endosperm.

The two most economically important varieties of coffee plant are the Arabica and the Robusta; 75-80% of the coffee produced worldwide is Arabica and 20% is Robusta. Arabica seeds consist of 0.8-1.4% caffeine and Robusta seeds consist of 1.7-4% caffeine. As coffee is one of the world’s most widely consumed beverages, coffee seeds are a major cash crop, and an important export product, counting for over 50% of some developing nations’ foreign exchange earnings.


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