Cherries, berries, seeds, and pits

Coffea - no, that's not a typo - is a flowering plant of the Rubiaceae family.

Coffea - no, that's not a typo - is a flowering plant of the Rubiaceae family.

The flowers are white, highly-scented, and really rather beautiful. The fruit it bears is called a cherry (and, sometimes, a berry) and is red (and, sometimes, purple).

Inside the red or purple cherry or berry is a seed (or a pit) and there are usually two seeds or pits, with their flat sides sitting together.

The life story of the Coffea shrub is kind of like that of a human. The shrub requires a three- to five-year relationship with the earth before it becomes ready to reproduce.

The fruits then take about nine months to ripen. The shrub lives for around 70 years, but it's possible for them to reach an age worthy of a card from Her Majesty. As far as we know, she doesn't actually send cards to trees - that would be like taunting them by sending them back a body part.

Thankfully, the similarities between us and the coffee plant end there. Grown in rows several feet apart, and capable of reaching more than 30 feet in height, they dominate the hillsides quite unlike any human.

We've all heard of Coffea Arabica. But, with an almost endless species list, it's totally forgivable to not know your Bissetiae from your Pterocarpa. We certainly don't.

Some 45% of the world's supply of coffee is grown in Brazil - and it's a popular snack for moths, pretty moths (butterflies), and female moths (myths... OK, not really). Excluding the education of entomologists regarding elevenses for ecosystems, the whole moth thing is kind of irrelevant.

What is relevant, and highly entertaining, is that inside the little seeds is a special substance that protects it from the outside world. White rice and Brazil nuts also have this protective barrier.

And it gives us immense pleasure to tell you that it's called endosperm.