- History and Culture
Coffea macrocarpa is a shrub, often branched, up to 4 m tall, with straight, vigorous branches, with a smooth, shiny and whitish bark. The very tough leaves are yellowish green. They are hair less with a long blade and with an elliptical spatula. The very fine and delicate flowers are of an immaculate white and are axillary. The fruit are ovoid, with attenuated ends turning red when ripe.
This small tree has been observed in different habitat types including the humid forests from summits to low altitudes, open areas of shrubs and scrub dominated by siderophyllons, heather moorlands and in swampy areas of Pandanaceae. The flowers are pollinated by birds and the geckos, while the fruit are dispersed naturally by the birds. The plant is used in forest restoration and landscaping projects.
The brown coffee is endemic to Mauritius, it is classified as "endangered" on the IUCN Red List. It is found mainly in the Black River Gorges National Park and in nature reserves, such as Bel Ombre and Plaine Champagne. Despite regular monitoring aimed at eliminating competing alien species from endemic to conservation areas (CMAs) and other controlled areas of the forest, population decline has been noted due to continued habitat destruction.
The species name 'macrocarpa' means 'large fruit'.
This species is part of the same group as coffee "Coffea arabica", but unlike its African cousin, Mauritian coffee does not contain caffeine.
The first sample of the species was collected in 1834 by Wenceslas Bojer.