The bean of Coffea arabica, although the principal bean used in commerce, is not the only one; and it may not be out of place here to describe briefly some of the other varieties that are produced commercially. Coffea liberica is one of these plants. The quality of the beverage made from its berries is inferior to that of Coffea arabica, but the plant itself offers distinct advantages in its hardy growing qualities. This makes it attractive for hybridization.
The Coffea liberica tree is much larger and sturdier than the Coffea arabica, and in its native haunts it reaches a height of 30 feet. It will grow in a much more torrid climate and can stand exposure to strong sunlight. The leaves are about twice as long as those of arabica, being six to twelve inches in length, and are very thick, tough, and leathery. The apex of the leaf is acute. The flowers are larger than those of arabica, and are borne in dense clusters. At any time during the season, the same tree may bear flowers, white or pinkish, and fragrant, or even green, together with fruits, some green, some ripe and of a brilliant red. The corolla has been known to have seven segments, though as a rule it has five. The fruits are large, round, and dull red; the pulps are not juicy, and are somewhat bitter. Unlike Coffea arabica, the ripened drupes do not fall from the trees, and so the picking can be delayed at the planter's convenience.