The story of coffee is an incredible one. The worldwide spread of coffee as a beverage and the production across the globe can trace its expansion largely to one plant.
The Coffee plant traces its origins to Ethiopia. The legend of the goat herder who sees his herd become energetic after consuming the fruit is woven into myth
Ethiopia has a large range of different types of coffee varieties that are largely not named. They have been characterised as Heirloom and are drawn from wild or cross bred plants. The estimate on numbers is anywhere from 1000 up to 10000 types.
One of the Ethiopian plants was moved to Yemen and cultivated. From there the Dutch stole one of them and planted it in its colony of Java. In 1715, as a gift the Dutch then gave one of the seeds to the French and that is really the start of coffees worldwide spread.
The varietal the French received was known as Typica. An Arabica varietal, its smooth and sweet flavour was ideal and it was propagated in a greenhouse. Its offspring was planted in Latin America and Africa. The French Tree is known as the “Noble Tree”.
It is hard to believe that the coffee you consumed this morning probably is from a descendent of the Noble Tree.
There is a long commercial history of natural mutations, selective breeding and the propagation of Robusta coffee plants. A large part of the changes were to produce higher yields, disease resistance and easier harvesting.
The Third Wave - Modern day coffee roasters are going back to the source and seeking out those Ethiopian heirloom varietals looking for natural flavour subtlety. It is common for roasters to talk to individual farmers and seek out a niche that they can own. And coffee drinkers are very happy to seek out new experiences and try new flavours. The ONA Raspberry Candy is a blend of Ethiopian coffees doing exactly that.
Quality is taking preference over quantity and from the farmer to the consumer everyone can win - and thats a great result from one bean planted in 1715.