Arabica beans are produced by Coffea arabica, a shrub native to East Africa and the Arabian peninsula. Coffea arabica is one of two types of coffee plant, the other being Coffea caneophora, also called Coffea robusta. Coffea arabica grows well in warm, temperate environments, usually at altitudes between 1,300 and 1,500 meters. The plants grow to around five meters in height, although commercial plants are usually kept short. The leaves of the plant are dark green, and it produces white flowers and deep red berries.
Robusta coffee is known for its strong, earthy flavor and its acidity. These coffee beans contain more acid and caffeine content than any Arabica. They are used as caffeine boosters as well as fillers to improve the taste of flat or weak tasting coffee. When Robusta coffee is sorted and processed with the same amount of care given to Arabica coffee, it can attain better refinement to yield a milder flavor than usual.
Green coffee beans are the raw seeds of coffee cherries that have been separated or “processed” and have yet to be roasted. All of a coffee’s taste and flavor potential is held within this green seed. This potential is ultimately unleashed through roasting the green coffee.
Many factors are taken into consideration when coffee is considered for organic certification. For example, the coffee farm's fertilizer must be 100% organic. Some organic fertilizer options include chicken manure, coffee pulp, bocachi and general compost. If inorganic fertilizers such as synthetic nitrogen, phosphate, and potash are used, then the crop grown cannot be certified organic.
In the US, organic coffee crops are overseen by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Although these standards discourage the use of chemicals on cropland within three years preceding the harvest in question, exemptions can be made. This means that not all USDA certified organic products are necessarily free of chemical residues.
Meanwhile, the Organic Food Production Act of 1990 (OFPA) focuses on the production of coffee after the harvest. OFPA regulates the use of chemicals on the product and how the coffee beans are handled throughout the production process. Regulations are not necessarily stringent; the former vice-chair of the U.S. National Organic Standards Board has stated that "Organic labels are not statements regarding the healthiness, nutritional value, or overall safety of consuming such products"