In this blog post, we will explore the caffeine content, production, and importance of Excelsa in India.
Coffeea Liberica var. dewevrei or Coffee Excelsa, a lesser-known coffee species, has been gaining attention in recent years for its unique flavor profile and potential as a climate-resilient coffee species, making it a significant player in the world of coffee.
The tree is a large, woody plant that can grow up to 20 meters tall. It has a single trunk that is typically straight and can reach a diameter of up to 60 centimeters. The tree's leaves are large, oblong, and dark green in color, and they can grow up to 30 centimeters long and 15 centimeters wide. The leaves are arranged opposite each other on the branches and have a prominent midrib.
Excelsa takes 11- 12 months for flowering to fruit maturation, it will vary according to the climatic conditions, agricultural practices and various other factors.
The caffeine content of coffee varies depending on the species. C. arabica, the most widely grown coffee species in the world, has a caffeine content ranging from 1.2-1.5%. Coffea Canephora, also known as Robusta coffee, has a higher caffeine content, typically ranging from 1.7-4%.
In contrast, excelsa has a lower caffeine content than both C.arabica and C.canephora, ranging from 0.7-1.1%. This makes excelsa an attractive option for those who are sensitive to caffeine or prefer naturally low caffeine content options.
We conducted a caffeine analysis for a few of our samples and found the caffeine content for excelsa is between 0.90% - 0.98%.
In India, excelsa is not widely grown, however you can find the trees planted all around the estate borders. Locally called Mara Kaapi ( literally translates to Tree Coffee). Mara kaapi , excelsa was believed to provide shade and protection from wind, and they are also believed to help regulate the microclimate around the coffee plants. This practice is common in some parts of India and is an example of how traditional agricultural knowledge can be combined with modern scientific research to create more sustainable and resilient farming practices. However many coffee farmers removed their excelsa trees due to difficulty in harvesting the fruit. Harvesting excelsa is a labor-intensive process that involves picking the fruit by hand, by climbing on a ladder.
The outturn of excelsa is generally lower than other coffee species.Our research shows that the outturn of excelsa is lower than that of C.arabica and C.canephora. In our studies, the outrun for excelsa was 2.6 kg of fruit = 1 kg Cherry, which is 6.8 kg of fruit = 1 kg of clean coffee.
In recent times some coffee growers have started to experiment with the species as a way to diversify their crops and potentially create a more climate-resilient coffee industry.
Excelsa's potential as a climate-resilient coffee species has also been explored by researchers such as Dr. Aaron Davis of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. In a 2023 BBC article, Dr. Davis discussed the potential of Coffea liberica, which includes excelsa as a subspecies, as a way to create a more sustainable coffee industry in the face of climate change.
Coffea liberica is known for its tolerance of higher temperatures and greater resistance to pests and diseases, which could make it an important species for coffee growers in the future. Excelsa's lower caffeine content and unique flavor profile make it an attractive option for coffee lovers, while its potential as a climate-resilient coffee species could help to create a more sustainable and resilient coffee industry in India and other parts of the world.
In conclusion, excelsa is a unique and lesser-known species of coffee plant that has the potential to play a significant role in the future of coffee production. Its lower caffeine content and unique flavor profile make it an attractive option for coffee lovers, while its potential as a climate-resilient coffee species could help to create a more sustainable and resilient coffee industry. As coffee growers and researchers continue to explore the potential of excelsa, it will be interesting to see how this fascinating species contributes to the world of coffee.
We are excited to try this year's harvest and if you're as intrigued as we are, keep an eye out for our upcoming excelsa harvest - it'll soon be available in the UK, Europe, and India for all of you try.