Coffee Varieties: Detailed cultivars of a coffee ancestry tree – Ethiopian coffee trees were the first to be farmed, and this same kind, Typica, is still commonly grown today. There are now a plethora of different variations, some of which are the result of natural mutations and others of which are the product of cross-breeding. Some types have distinct flavor profiles, while others take on characteristics influenced by the terroir in which they are grown, how they are cultivated, and how they are processed after harvest.
Please note that unless there is something definitive and different, the descriptions of the most frequent variations below will not include any specific observations on flavor. Because there are so many aspects that influence cup quality, and because there isn’t much systematic study on how variety affects it, making any big claims on these pages would be deceptive.
Arabica coffee beans
Arabica coffee is a variety of coffee manufactured from the Coffea arabica plant’s beans. Arabica originated in Ethiopia’s southwestern highlands and is the world’s most popular coffee, accounting for 60 percent or more of global production. Robusta coffee, manufactured from the beans of the Coffea canephora plant, is second in popularity to arabica.
Given that it produces around 70% of the world’s coffee, you may be familiar with the name of this coffee bean. Arabica coffee beans are cultivated at elevations of more than 900 meters. Suitable in regions with regular rainfall. Arabica trees are typically less than 6 meters tall. Their little size makes harvesting easier.
Among the four major varieties of coffee bushes, the Arabica coffee line is said to be the most “fragile.” It is susceptible to infections and is easily influenced by the environment. Care must be taken when raising coffee plants.
High-quality Arabica beans provide the best fragrance. The flavor of Arabica coffee may be separated between salty and sour at the tip of the tongue.
Types Of Varieties And Types Of Varietals
The phrases ‘variety’ and ‘varietal’ are frequently used interchangeably. Varieties are genetically diverse variations of a single species, in this example Coffea arabica, that exhibit differences in a tree structure, leaves, and fruit.
Because this is only a truncation of ‘cultivated variety,’ another permissible phrase is ‘cultivar.’ When referring to a specific instance of a variation, the term ‘varietal’ should be used. For example, when speaking to a single farm’s output, it would be accurate to remark that it was entirely Bourbon varietal.
Typica Coffee Variety
All additional types are thought to have mutated or been genetically chosen from this original variety. The Dutch were the first to disseminate coffee for commercial production over the world, and this was the variety they brought with them.
The fruit is usually red, and Typica can provide exceptional cup quality, despite having a low yield when compared to other kinds. It is still widely grown in many regions of the world and is called by a number of other names, including criollo, Sumatra, and arabigo.
This spontaneous Typica mutation happened on the island of Réunion (at the time called Bourbon). The yield is higher than Typica’s, and many in the specialty business say it has a particular sweetness that makes it valuable and attractive.
The fruit comes in a variety of colors, including red, yellow, and even orange. This cultivar was once commonly planted, but higher-yielding types in several producing countries have since displaced it.
This occurred when the market had not yet matured enough to reward a high enough price to compensate for the decreased yields produced by the variety compared to newer types.
This variety was called after the location in Brazil where it was discovered in the 1940s. It is a natural hybrid of Typica and Bourbon. It’s grown for its high yield, strength, and disease resistance, as well as its ability to thrive at altitudes of 1,000–1,200 meters (3,300–3,900 feet), which are widespread in Brazil.
This is a Bourbon mutation found in 1937 in Brazil. It generates great yields, however, it is susceptible to overpowering, which occurs when the tree produces more fruit than it can sustain and dies.
On the other hand, good farm management can help avoid this problem. This type has grown in popularity in Colombia and Central America, however, it is still widely available in Brazil. Cup quality is regarded as good, and while yield falls as altitude rises, cup quality improves. There are red and yellow varieties, and it is a low-growing kind known as dwarf or semi-dwarf, which is popular because it is simpler to pick by hand.
Catuai Coffee Variety
In the 1950s and 1960s, the Instituto Agronomico do Campinas in Brazil established a cross between Caturra and Mundo Novo. It was chosen because it blended Caturra’s dwarf features with Mundo Novo’s yield and strength. There are red and yellow variations, just as Caturra.
Maragogype is a mutation of Typica that was first detected in Brazil. It is one of the more easily identifiable variations. It is renowned for the relatively enormous size of its beans, which is frequently considered attractive.
The tree also has very huge leaves but produces a small amount of fruit. Because of its size, this coffee is commonly referred to as ‘Elephant’ or ‘Elephant Bean’ coffee. The fruits frequently turn red as they ripen.
SL-28, a coveted cultivar, was developed in Kenya by Scott Laboratories in the 1930s, based on a drought-resistant Tanzanian variety.
When fully mature, the fruits turn red, and the beans are noticeably larger than typical.
This type is thought to be capable of generating a cup with a unique fruit flavor, which is frequently compared to blackcurrant. It’s prone to coffee leaf rust and performs best at higher elevations.
This variety was chosen from the French Mission Bourbon, a variety that was transported back to Africa from Bourbon (Réunion) and initially appeared in Tanzania, then Kenya.
It can also produce distinct fruit flavors, although its cup quality is typically thought to be inferior to that of SL-28. The fruits ripen crimson and are sensitive to coffee leaf rust.
Geisha Or Gesha
Although the term ‘Geisha’ is more often used, there is still controversy over the correct nomenclature for this type. While the cultivar was brought to Panama from Costa Rica, it is considered Ethiopian. Gesha is a town in western Ethiopia. The type is known for producing aromatic/floral cups of high quality, and demand has driven up prices in recent years.
It rose to notoriety and appeal after a Panamanian farm, Hacienda La Esmeralda, joined a competition with a Geisha lot in 2004. The coffee was so unique and distinct that it drew a record-breaking $21/lb offer at auction. In 2006 and 2007, this record bid was beaten, reaching $130/lb — about a hundred times more than a commodity-grade coffee. As a result, numerous farmers in Central and South America have begun to plant this type.
Pacas is a natural Bourbon mutation found by the Pacas family in El Salvador in 1949. It has red fruits and is easy to select due to its low-growth habit. It has a cup quality that is comparable to Bourbon, making it appealing.
Similar to the Caturra in Brazil and the Villa Sarchi in Costa Rica, Pacas is a naturally occurring variant of Bourbon. Pacas has a single-gene mutation with other popular Bourbon mutants that makes the plant grow smaller (dwarfism). The plant’s main advantage is that it can be planted closer together and has a larger potential yield due to its compact size, which also increases farm-wide fruit output.
On a farm held by the Pacas family in El Salvador’s Santa Ana area, the variety was found in 1949. The Salvadoran Institute for Coffee Research (ISIC) started a pedigree selection program for Pacas in 1960, which involves choosing specific plants from a population of related plants.
It continues to be widely grown there and still makes up around 25% of the nation’s coffee production. Procafe offers seed stock for purchase. Additionally, it is cultivated in Honduras, where IHCAFE first introduced it in 1974.
Villa Sarchi, also known as La Luisa or Villalobos Bourbon, is a naturally occurring mutation of a Bourbon population with a single-gene mutation that causes the plant to grow smaller (referred to as “dwarfism”), similar to Caturra and Pacas.
The variety was found in Costa Rica in the 1950s or 1960s in the province of Alajuela’s northwest area, where it has since undergone pedigree selection (selection of certain plants over future generations). Outside of Costa Rica, it is not often grown, but IHCAFE brought it to Honduras in 1974.
It is renowned for being wind-tolerant and well-adapted to the circumstances at the highest altitudes.
The “Sarchimor” family of coffees has Villa Sarchi’s name, which makes it one of its most well-known associations. Latin American coffee breeders, producers, and the worldwide coffee industry that depended on the region’s coffee were all very concerned in the 1970s about the recent introduction of coffee leaf rust to the region.
Two shipments of Timor Hybrid seeds were delivered to Portugal’s renowned Centro de Investigaço das Ferrugens do Cafeeiro (CIFC), known for its studies on coffee leaf rot, in 1958 or 1959. Timor Hybrid is a naturally occurring Robusta and Arabica hybrid that first arose on the island of East Timor in the 1920s. Rust resistance was a trait the variety inherited from its Robusta genetics.
Breeders chose two plants for use in breeding from the two shipments of seeds that CIFC received based on their great resistance to leaf rust. In order to develop new coffee kinds that will not only be resistant to coffee leaf rust but also have a compact stature and be able to be planted more thickly, CIFC breeders started working on them in 1967.
Hybrid 361 was produced by mating compact Villa Sarchi with HDT CIFC 832/2, one of the rust-resistant Timor Hybrid plants (H361). The hybrid was given the name Sarchimor (Crosses made with compact Caturra were dubbed “Catimor.”)
In 1958, El Salvador created a hybrid between the Pacas and Maragogype types. It has huge leaves, fruit, and coffee beans, just like Maragogype. It also has different cup features that may be quantified.
It has the ability to taste like chocolate and fruit, but it can also produce unappealing herbal, onion-like cups. The fruits turn red as they ripen.
Pacamara was created by crossing Pacas and Maragogipe. El Salvador Institute of Coffee Research’s incomplete pedigree selection (ISIC). It is principally grown in El Salvador, where competitions for the Cup of Excellence are routinely won by high-quality cups.
Maracaturra, a related variety, perhaps sprung from a natural cross in Nicaragua between Caturra and Maragogipe. The Nicaraguan Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA) created the initial choices, which were never finished after the Sandinista revolution. Private growers in Central America produced more choices, but the variety was never stable.
Kent, a population with Bourbon ties in southwest India, was chosen as KP423. In the 1920s, Kent was introduced to Tanzania and other countries in East Africa as part of a rigorous selection effort at the Lyamungu Research Station in Tanzania that prioritized quality and output. In Uganda, where it is a significant variety in Arabica-growing areas, KP423 was first introduced in Tanzania in the 1940s.
Kent is thought to be descended from the first Bourbon seeds Baba Budan carried from Yemen to India around 1670. The many Kent-derived types are descended from a single tree that Mr. L.P. Kent chose in 1911 from his Doddengooda Estate in Mysore, southwest India. Since the 1930s, it has been widely planted throughout India. It is renowned for being the first coffee chosen for its ability to resist rust, albeit this resistance has subsequently deteriorated.
A significant coffee cultivar is S795 (Selection-795) since it was one of the original C strains. Coffee leaf rust has been proven to be resistant to arabica (CLR).
It was created by R.L. and is a selection from the Balehonnur Coffee Research Station in India. Narasimhaswamy by hybridization of C. C. arabica and S288 and the Kent variation of Liberia, a cross between Typica and an unidentified additional kind. The Kent cultivar is a high-yielding tree, and both S288 and Kent are reported to be resistant to a number of rust races. The resulting S795 cultivar is an attractive cultivar for farmers because of its high yield, rust resistance, and favorable cup profile.
Both India and Indonesia have a large plantation of S795. It makes up about 25–30% of the arabica coffee acreage in India.
Varieties Of Wild Arabica
Because they all descend from one variety, Typica, most of the aforementioned kinds are genetically very similar. On the other hand, many of the coffee trees growing in Ethiopia are indigenous heirloom kinds that are thought to have resulted from cross-breeding between diverse species and varieties. So yet, little has been done to classify or investigate these wild species’ genetic diversity and cup quality.
Arabica coffee is harvested by machine in Cabo Verde, Brazil. This method of collecting fruit is efficient, but the harvest must later be sorted to select only ripe cherries.