A much branched, smooth, half woody herb or shrub about 0.8 to 1.8 m tall. Stem is erect and without hairs. Leaves are bipinnately compound and about 20 to 25 cm in length. Each pinna has four to seven pairs of leaflets, which are 3 to 9 cm in length and 2 to 4 cm in width and arranged oppositely. Leaflets are ovate or ovate- lanceolate in shape with a long, fine pointed tip. Each leaf has a distinct spherical- shaped gland, which is located about 0.3 to 0.5 cm from the base of the petiole. This is one of the features that can be used to distinguish coffee senna from other related species such as Cassia tora (sickle pod) in the field. Inflorescence is a terminal or axillary raceme. Flowers are yellow coloured and about 2 cm long and 3 to 4 cm wide. Fruit is a pod, compressed, 8 to 12 cm long, 0.7 to 1 cm wide and curved slightly upwards. Each pod contains 20 to 30 seeds, which are ovoid in shape, smooth, shiny and dull brown to dark olive-green in colour.
It grows on a variety of soils but prefers slightly acidic to neutral soil. It requires high soil moisture for better performance. It is not cultivated in large scale but grown near houses or even in home gardens. It can be easily propagated by seeds. Seeds can be collected from mature pods, which split upon maturity. Seed may be manually scarified to increase the rate of germination.
Coffee senna has many medicinal value and is reputed as a tonic, diuretic and antihelminthic agent. In the Maldives, seeds are roasted and powdered to prepare strong coffee. It is given as a substitute to coffee and also as a tonic. It is also given to alleviate asthma and to persons suffering from hysteria. In the Maldives, the leaves, which are laxative and liver detoxifying, are widely used as a leafy vegetable and eaten either raw or mixed with coconut, chilly and onion.