This should wake you up! This specimen of coffee (Coffea arabica) was collected in June 1847 in Jamaica by Jacob Wolle. Coffea arabica, the source of Arabica beans, is the main species of coffee consumed by humans, and is cultivated worldwide. The coffee “bean” is the seed – the hard pit inside the coffee fruit.
Why does the Carnegie Museum have coffee specimens from Jamaica from the 1840s, you might ask? Surprisingly, some of the oldest specimens in the Carnegie Museum herbarium were collected in Jamaica! Jacob Wolle was the grandfather of William Holland, one of the first directors of the Carnegie Museum (from 1901-1922). Holland himself was born in Jamaica, where his father was a Moravian missionary. The CM herbarium has 2,514 specimens from Wolle’s collection, dating as far back as 1819!
The coffee specimen below, also from Jamaica, was collected by former Carnegie Museum director William Holland’s father, Francis R. Holland in 1844.
This post was inspired by a group of artists from Vietnam whose art is inspired by coffee and coffee plantations. They stopped by the herbarium earlier this year for inspiration.
Botanists at Carnegie Museum of Natural History share pieces of the herbarium’s historical hidden collection on the dates they were discovered or collected. Check back for more!