Coffea Arabica is a species of Coffea originally indigenous to the mountains of Yemen in the Arabian Peninsula, hence its name, and also from the southwestern highlands of Ethiopia and southeastern Sudan. It is also known as the “coffee shrub of Arabia”, “mountain coffee” or “arabica coffee”. Coffea arabica is believed to be the first species of coffee to be cultivated, being grown in southwest Arabia for well over 1,000 years. Its production began in Indonesia in 1699.
Coffea Arabica oil comes from the tiny seeds in the berry. It takes many pounds of berries to make one ounce of oil, hence the high cost. Sherry was studying about the Egyptians while working on her Formulas. She was interested in what Cleopatra used on her skin. Several of the essential oils that Sherry uses, Cleopatra may have also utilized. But what she found most interesting was that the embalmers, who mummified the bodies, used caffeine to preserve their skin. Sherry tried it on her skin and liked the results, which is why Formula 8 has Coffea Arabica oil.
The wild plants grow to between 9 and 12 m tall, and have an open branching system; the leaves are opposite, simple elliptic-ovate to oblong, and grow in axillary clusters. The fruit is a drupe (though commonly called a “berry”) 10–15 mm in diameter, maturing bright red to purple and contains two seeds (the coffee ‘bean’).
Originally found in the southwestern highlands of Ethiopia, Coffea arabica is now rare there in its native state, and many populations appear to be mixed native plants.
C. arabica takes about seven years to mature fully, and does best with about 40–59 inches of rain, evenly distributed throughout the year. It is usually cultivated between 1,300 and 1,500 m altitude, but there are plantations as low as sea level and as high as 2,800 m.
Two to four years after planting, C. arabica produces small, white and highly fragrant flowers. The sweet fragrance resembles the sweet smell of jasmine flowers. When flowers open on sunny days, this results in the greatest numbers of berries. This can be a curse, however, as coffee plants tend to produce too many berries; this can lead to an inferior harvest and even damage yield in the following years. On well kept plantations, this is prevented by pruning the tree. The flowers themselves only last a few days, leaving behind only the thick dark green leaves. The berries then begin to appear. These are as dark green as the foliage, until they begin to ripen, at first to yellow and then light red and finally darkening to a glossy deep red. At this point they are called ‘cherries’ and are ready for picking.
Recent research has discovered that caffeine applied topically can help prevent skin cancer. Coffea Arabica Oil is supercharged with caffeine, though not as much as other type coffees. It has been in Sherry’s Formula 8 for more then 50 years.