Coffee..."Nature's miracle"

  

         I took this picture at the Como Zoo in MN











Go Green!

  Photosynthesis Diagram from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Simple_photosynthesis_overview.svg                                                                          Coffea arabica is an autotrophic plant meaning it uses photosynthesis to make its own food, meanwhile producing large amounts of oxygen as a byproduct.  A coffee field has the ability to produce half the amount of oxygen the rainforest does occupying the same amount of area!

            How it works; the plant, in presence of light, uses both carbon dioxide and water to produce glucose, oxygen, and a smaller amount of water.  The light energy from the chlorophyll in the chloroplasts is stored in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and used for aerobic respiration.  The ATP is then used in the Calvin cycle to convert CO2 to sugar. These sugars are used to support the rest of the plant.

6CO2 + 12H2O + Light energy    C6H12O6 + 6O2 + 6H2O

            Sugar, water, carbon dioxide, and other nutrients the plant needs dispersed throughout its structure, are spread via vascular tissue, xylem and phloem. Tubes of xylem absorb water and nutrients from the roots, while carbon dioxide enters the leaves of the plant via the opening and closing of specialized cells called stomata.  The water absorbed is typically pulled up from the roots to supply the rest of the plant due to adhesion, cohesion, and capillary action. Phloem is arranged tubes running around the outer part of the plant but under the bark containing sieve tube members, companion cells, and parenchyma cells that transport the sugars and other organic molecules produced in the leaves typically down to the other parts of the plant.

            Luckily the coffee “shrubs” are trimmed down to be about the size of a man for the purposes of harvesting otherwise coffee trees can grown around 25-35 feet in height, nothing compared to trees that are hundreds of feet tall and still have to get water all the way to the top! Coffee trees grown for production are kept at short stature and not allowed their full height; however they still manage to produce around 2 lbs of coffee a year making about 200 cups of brew.  (Click here to see how coffee is made!)

            The coffee seeds are planted in the soil either on small family farms up to large coffee plantations (Visit the Bean Belt to see where coffee is grown). 3-4 years after the seeds are planted and the roots have taken hold, the flowers are capable of blooming depending on climate and pollination. The roots dig deep into the soil; the main taproot can be 30-45 cm deep while other parts of the root grow horizontally reaching out meters in length. The leaves are the major source of oxygen from the plant and are of a dark, shiny green color, with a very waxy appearance. About 6-8 months after being pollinated, either by wind mediated pollination or by insects especially bees (To see more on bee pollination), the berries will be ready to be harvested. They have matured from an original dark green color to yellow then a dark crimson red which is why they are called “cherries” by farmers and harvesters. The cherries are typically .5 to in. long when they are either hand picked of shaken off onto mats, collected, and put through to the production process.

                         I took this photo at the Como Zoo in MN      A look at the different structures of the plant parts from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Koeh-189.jpgPicture my aunt took while living in Costa Rica

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