Posted in Kafevend Blog
When it comes to types of coffee, I'm guessing that most folk- if they've any interest in the subject- would know about arabica and robusta. Whilst these certainly make up the vast majority of commercial coffee you can pick up from a supermarket or coffee house, there are many more varieties that have been consigned to obscurity in favour of a little economic viability. After looking at Bengal Coffee last week, I'm going to look at another of these little known varieties- Coffea liberica.
Coffea liberica comes from Liberia, a small country in Africa laying on the south western coast. The liberica variety was discovered in 1843. The tree's characteristics make it a hardy plant and it produces cherries one and a half to two times the size of those produced by arabica trees. The skin on the cherries themselves is also comparatively thicker than that on their arabica cousins- this extra resistance makes them harder to process, but it is believed to add to the aroma and flavour of the coffee.
Liberica's hardiness was picked up on by coffee producers looking to replace arabica plantations devastated by an outbreak of coffee rust at the end of the 19th century in South East Asia. Liberica is now grown in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and the Phillippines, along with India and areas of West Africa. Unlike arabica or robusta, liberica is not mass produced. Of what little is grown, less than 1% is actually sold on the market!