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Coffee Encyclopedia: Types and Varieties

Coffee grows on trees. Of course, this is an obvious fact. All #coffee trees belong to the genus of evergreen plants of the #Rubiaceae family. To be precise - it applies to the genus Coffee (lat. #Coffea), which currently has more than 120 species: from small shrubs to giant 18-meter trees.

Various members of this genus grow wild in many tropical regions of the world, and scientists continue to discover new specimens.

Strictly speaking, only two types of coffee trees are grown specifically for coffee production: #Coffee #Arabian (Arabica) and Coffee Kongonese (Robusta), although some countries such as the Philippines grow a third species, Coffee Liberica (Liberica).

About 70% of the coffee produced annually (approximately 7 million tons of roasted beans) are different varieties of Arabica. Everything else is Robusta, most of which is grown in India, Indonesia, and Vietnam. It is Vietnam that provides more than half of all robusta in the world, and is actually second only to Brazil in terms of production.

As the name suggests, "Robusta" is the more disease resistant of the two types of coffee trees. This is partly due to the increased caffeine content in their grains, which repels small pests. As a rule, Robusta gives more than Arabica. Also, unlike #Arabica, which has to be harvested and dropped to the ground before the fruit is fully ripe, its fruit remains on the branches after ripening. However, Robusta grains are smaller and have a predominantly round shape. Roasted Robusta has a bitter, sugary taste, a mild aroma and almost no sourness. Robusta is often added to espresso blends for its bitter taste, and Italians highly value it for its richness and good creaminess, as well as for its higher caffeine content than Arabica.

What are the advantages of Arabica in this case?

And the answer is definitely flavor! Arabica coffee is made with more refined and varied flavors: chocolate, hazelnut, flower, strawberry and fruit. In addition, there are many more varieties of this species, and each differs significantly in both appearance and taste characteristics. Most Arabica strains are the result of mutations or hybrids of two naturally occurring coffee varieties: Typica and #Bourbon.

Typica is a type of coffee that was first brought from Ethiopia to Yemen and then to India. In 1718, typical specimens from the island of Java arrived on the French island of Bourbon (modern name Reunion), located in the Indian Ocean, 800 kilometers east of the island of Madagascar. And already here they turned into a new type called "Bourbon". These two varieties - Typica and Bourbon - belong to the largest share of Arabica varieties on the world market today.

Some are the result of natural mutation, others are deliberate crossbreeding or selection of non-hybrid varieties. Arabica is a self-pollinating strain, so by the rules the pedigree should remain crystal clear. But since the climate of some countries is very exotic, a natural mutation occurred (bourbon and later). New varieties with the necessary qualities were subsequently bred all over the world.

The history of Robusta is very similar, but this type of coffee tree was not officially classified until 1895 (for example, Arabian coffee - Arabica was classified in 1753. Robusta comes from West Africa and, like Arabica, spreads around the world via the island.

Arabica Varieties


Typica is the founder of all Arabica. He is believed to be from South Sudan. It became widespread in Ethiopia, where it came to Yemen in the twelfth century, and began to be actively cultivated for sale. Later, the Dutch brought this variety with them to the West Indies, which started the history of coffee in Latin America. Gabriel de Clay planted the Typica tree in Martinique in 1720.

When ripe, the fruits of this variety turn red. With low yield and low resistance to various diseases, the Typica variety remains very popular due to the purity of the taste of the resulting drink.

Below is a partial but important list of Typica mutations, selections and hybrids commonly used in coffee production. Often you will find that the flavor qualities of individual varieties will be described very approximately. While some have very strong flavor profiles, it's impossible to guarantee they'll be carried in a drink. Specialty coffee is a guarantee of good grain quality, but not necessarily the taste of the finished drink. This is because, in addition to the type and quality of the bean, it affects the final taste of the coffee, including the method of preparation, roasting style and quality.

This list (with the exception of the Geisha variety) does not mention a large number of non-hybrid varieties from Ethiopia, which are the result of the natural crossing of several varieties characteristic of this region. This has led to the surprising genetic diversity of Ethiopian coffee, which is of course reflected in the characteristic taste of the local coffee bean.

Ripe typical fruits are ready to be harvested.


Original mutation from Reunion Island (Bourbon). Cattura, Catuai, Pacasa and Mundu Novo It is the ancestor of many popular varieties in Latin America. Bourbon is still popular in Latin America and has also been reintroduced to Africa, where it is grown in Rwanda and Burundi. Most bourbon varieties have ripe, bright red fruits, but there are also varieties with yellow fruits. Trees of this variety produce, on average, 20-30% more berries than Typica, but have a similar flavor, albeit slightly sweeter and more balanced.

Bright yellow ripe fruits of Yellow Bourbon.


Not to be confused with Caturra or Catuai. This variety was obtained by crossing Caturra and Timor. It provides high yield and disease resistance. It was actively cultivated in Latin America in the 1980s, as it was believed to help prevent the appearance of leaf rust. Unfortunately its quality is worse than other Arabica hybrids. This is due to Timor (also known as Ara-busta), a natural hybrid of Arabica (Tipica) and Robusta. The choice of Robusta (high caffeine content) is due to the fact that this variety is so resistant to various diseases.


A hybrid of Caturra and Mundu Novu. It has high yield and disease resistance. It was bred in Brazil in the 1950s. Like Ka-turra, ripe Catuai fruit can be red or yellow (I personally prefer the former). Catuai is famous for its high acidity and is very popular in Central America.


This Bourbon mutation was discovered in the 1930s near Caturra, Brazil. The variety is more productive than Bourbon, but the trees themselves are small (considered a dwarf variety). This, of course, facilitates the collection of berries, but when grown at a relatively low altitude it can become a problem: under the weight of the berries, the tree can simply die. In the highlands (more than 1200 m), the fruits of Caturra will be of higher quality and size. This variety is widely distributed in Central America.


A Typica mutation (both spellings are acceptable) believed to have originated in the town of Gesha, in southwestern Ethiopia. This variety has longer leaves and fruits. In the 1930s some of the seeds arrived in Tanzania, then in the 1950s in Costa Rica. With the exception of Panama, with which the variety is mainly related, these two countries remain its only producers. In the mountainous regions of Panama, the Geisha is considered the undisputed leader. The flavor of this coffee ranges from berry-citrus notes to tropical fruits and bergamot. Therefore, we can expect further growth in the popularity and worldwide distribution of the Geisha variety in the future.


The variety is considered a natural mutation of Typica. It was first discovered and named after the city of Maragogype in Brazil, in the Bahia region. This variety is famous for its very large grain size. Pacamara is a hybrid of Maragogype.

Mundu Novo

Discovered in the 1940s, a Bourbon and Typica hybrid remains hugely popular in Latin America to this day. It is resistant to various diseases and has a higher yield than Bourbon or Typica. But the taste of this variety is flat and not very expressive.


More thoughtful cultivars include Pacamara, a Pacas and Maragogype hybrid bred in El Salvador in the late 1950s. Like Maragogype, this variety does not have a large yield. The grains are quite large, about twice the size of a simple Bourbon grain. Pacamara is valued for its high quality, pleasant clean acidity and floral notes on the palate. It is believed that the higher the place of growth, the better the taste of this variety.


Natural Bourbon mutation discovered in El Salvador in 1949. Trees of this variety are very compact and relatively unpretentious. Therefore, Pacas was chosen for further crossing with a completely different variety, Maragogype.


Also known as "Enhanced Bourbon". This dwarf variety is the result of 28 years of Bourbon breeding conducted by the Salvadoran Institute for the Study of Coffee from 1949 to 1977. As a result of this long trial, a relatively low-yielding variety was introduced to the world. But this is balanced by the excellent flavor, complex, multi-level acidity and high coffee density. As a result, a number of farmers began cultivating this variety in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala trying to improve the quality of their produce.


The letters in the name of this variety represent Scott Laboratories, the name of a company established by the Kenyan government in the 1930s to identify the most suitable "native" Kenyan coffee variety for widespread cultivation. A distinctive feature of Kenyan coffee, thanks to the SL-28 variety, is the tangible notes of blackcurrant. This variety does best in the highlands.


This variety is the younger (in a good way) sibling of the SL-28, which also boasts bright acidity and a fruity fruit flavor. Main advantages

: E1-34 variety trees feel much better in the plains, and they are also resistant to heavy rains in the highlands. Unfortunately, like 51-28, this variety is also coffee.


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