Coffee lovers will recognize the dark red cherries dangling from coffee plants during harvest season, but in order for the fruit to grow every year, they have to flower first. This year’s coffee plants have already bloomed, so we visited Costa Rica’s best coffee regions in order to share the beauty of the fields in bloom.
In the eighteenth century, botanist Carl Von Linnaeus did the coffee-loving world a great favor by studying coffee beans and classifying them within the genus Coffea family. Originally, coffee had been misclassified as belonging to the jasmine family, which made it difficult to understand its growing processes. Step onto a coffee plantation in full bloom, take in a long breath, and you’ll understand why people thought it was jasmine!
The most basic part of a coffee plant is the coffee bean, which is actually a seed. Inside the seed is a colorful pit (usually a reddish or purple color) called the cherry.
As avid coffee drinkers, it’s easy to focus mostly on the bean, but in order for a coffee plant to continue producing each year, it has to flower. Both the climate, particularly the amount of rain the region receives, and the age of the plant determine how well a plant will flower and the quality of beans it will produce.
In Costa Rica, coffee plants begin to produce beautiful, white flowers between April and May. For them to grow, the region needs to receive a heavy rainfall. Buds will then begin to blossom about two weeks after the season’s first downpour.
Once the flowers start blooming, workers leave the fields. Because blooming is a delicate process and absolutely essential to the health of the plant, no one enters the fields in order to protect the plants.
Each blooming flower is a symbol of the coffee bean that will come months later. Ideally, arabica coffee plants will receive around 1,600-1,800 millimeters of rain in a season. With optimum rainfall, each coffee tree can have up to 40,000 flowers.
About a month after the flowers appear, the aroma of the flowers is at its strongest and the petals begin to fall to the ground. Left behind after the flowers fall is the carpel, which will eventually mature into a coffee cherry. The self-pollinating plants nurture this cherry until it is a ripe coffee bean ready to be roasted for your morning cup of coffee, and then the flowering process begins all over again.
Have any questions? Our Coffee Experts will be more than happy to help