Characteristics of Arabica Coffee Trees (Coffea arabica) in the Wild

Coffea arabica
Arabica coffee (Coffea arabica) is the first coffee tree species discovered and cultivated by humans until now. Arabica coffee thrives in areas at an altitude of 700-1,700 m above sea level with temperatures between 16-20 °C, with a dry climate for three consecutive months.

The arabica coffee tree originally came from Brazil and Ethiopia. It is a type of coffee that has a caffeine content of 0.8-1.4%. The tree was first classified by a Swedish scientist named Carl Linnaeus (Carl von Linné) in 1737.

Arabica coffee trees are very susceptible to leaf rust disease Hemileia vastatrix (HV), especially when planted in areas less than 700 m above sea level. Because of this, the Arabica coffee tree is proven to require its care and cultivation.

Arabica coffee currently controls most of the world coffee market and the price is much higher than other types of coffee. In Indonesia, most of the Arabica coffee plantations are in the mountainous areas of Toraja, North Sumatra, Aceh, and Java. Several varieties of Arabica coffee are being developed in Indonesia, including Abesinia, Pasumah, Marago, Typica, and Congensis.


Typica is the first variety to enter Indonesia. The first time it was brought by the Dutch when it came to Indonesia. However, the original variety of Typica brought by the Dutch later became extinct when Coffee Leaf Rust attacked Indonesia.

Fortunately, not all of them are extinct, because there are still local Typica varieties, namely Bergendal and Sidikalang which are found in the highlands of Sumatra, Sulawesi, and Flores. Typica Arabica coffee trees usually inhabit plantations in remote areas.

Hybrido de Timor (HDT)

The Hybrido de Timor variety in Indonesia is also known as the Tim Tim variety, which comes from the word from East Timor. This variety is the result of a natural cross between Arabica Coffee and Robusta Coffee.

The Tim Tim variety first experienced a harvest in its place of origin, namely East Timor in 1978. Because of its good quality, this variety was then tried to be planted in other areas such as in Aceh and Flores in 1980. Now the Tim Tim variety has also been known as another, namely Churia.

Linie S

Linie S is a variety of Arabica Coffee originating from India. This variety is then developed using the Bourbon cultivar. The best-known common types of this Line S development are the S-288 and S-795.

Linie S varieties are found in the highlands of Aceh, Lintong, Java, Bali, Sulawesi, Flores, and Papua.

Linie Ethiopia

Linie Ethiopia is a variety of Arabica coffee that first entered Indonesia in 1928 when it was brought to the island of Java. The first area to develop the Ethiopian Linie variety is Aceh. Other varieties included in the Ethiopian Linie lineage are Rambung and Abyssinia.

The Ethiopian Linie variety was then developed in Sumatra and Flores, which later became known as USDA, where the name was taken from a project of the United States government at that time in 1950 when it took place in Indonesia.


This type of Arabica coffee variety is the result of a cross between Arabica Coffee and Bourbon Coffee originating from Brazil.

Catimor Line

The Catimor Lini variety is also similar to the Tim Tim, both of which are the result of a cross from Arabica and Robusta. However, this variety is known as a less good variety, because it has an aroma and taste that is not as good as other coffees.

However, further research is currently being carried out on this variety, because in the Aceh region, this variety has a good aroma and taste, usually Aceh coffee farmers call this variety Ateng Jaluk.

The first written records of coffee made from roasted coffee beans (plant-based beans) come from Arab scholars, who wrote that coffee was beneficial for extending their working hours. The Arab innovation in Yemen is making a drink from roasted beans first spread among the Egyptians and Turks, and then spread around the world. Other scholars believe that the coffee tree was introduced from Yemen, based on the Yemeni tradition that coffee and qat were grown on the ‘Udein’ (‘the two twigs’) in pre-Islamic Yemen.


Characteristics of Arabica Coffee Leaves

Coffea arabica Leaves
Source: Simon

Leaves opposite, simple, ovate or elliptical, 6-12 cm long and 4-8 cm wide, glossy dark green.


Characteristics of Arabica Coffee Flowers

Coffea arabica Flowers
Source: Cressler

Arabica coffee flowers are white, small, between 10-15 mm in diameter, and grow in axillary groups.

Flowers appear in large numbers, and this can be a problem, as coffee trees tend to produce too many berries. This excessive interest can lead to lower yields and even destroy yields in subsequent years.

In well-maintained plantations, excess flowering is prevented by pruning the trees.


Characteristics of Arabica Coffee Fruits

Coffea arabica Fruits
Source: and Kim Starr

Arabica coffee cherries are like berries and 10-15 mm in diameter, green when light and bright red to purple when ripe. Arabica coffee cherries usually contain two beans and are often called coffee beans.


Characteristics of Arabica Coffee Tree

Coffea arabica Tree
Source: and Kim Starr

Arabica coffee trees can grow to 4-6 meters (rarely 10 meters) in height and have an open branching system. The tree takes about 4-5 years to flower and 7-9 years to bear fruit. It grows best in the tropics at an altitude of more than 800 m asl (in Aceh it is planted at 1,200-1,500 m asl) with a regular summer of 3-4 months per year.

The tree is classified as difficult to cultivate because it cannot produce good quality fruit if planted at a low pH or inappropriate temperature resistance (average temperatures on Arabica coffee plantations in Aceh are between 15 and 24 °C).

The height of most commercially cultivated Arabica coffee trees grows only 4-5 meters tall and is often trimmed as low (usually 2 meters) to facilitate care and harvest.

Unlike the robusta coffee tree, the arabica coffee tree prefers to be planted in the shade.

Medium-term depletion of native arabica coffee tree populations may occur, due to projected global warming, based on IPCC modeling. Climate change such as increased temperatures, longer drought, and excessive rainfall could threaten the sustainability of arabica coffee production, leading to efforts to create new cultivars for changing conditions.

The best Arabica coffee varieties in the world today are Jamaican Blue Mountain, Colombian Supremo, Tarrazú, Costa Rica, Guatemala Antigua, and Ethiopian Sidamo.


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