Coffee cultivation is a very specific science. Everything affects the final flavor you find in your morning cup of coffee. Minute differences in soil nutrients, moisture, atmospheric conditions, the elevation at which it is grown, and a plethora of other factors all determine the overall flavor wrapped within a coffee bean. That would, of course, also mean that there are hundreds of varieties of coffee throughout the world.
The most popular species of coffee are, by far, Arabica and Robusta. While Robusta is economical to grow and yields a greater crop per plant, Arabica is considered to be the superior species, delivering a greater depth of quality that cannot be seen in Robusta. Most retail coffee is a blend of both varieties, but specialty coffee roasters and merchants do sell specific varieties that can cost quite a bit more.
Why is Arabica considered the superior bean? There are several factors that determine this, but specific studies have shown that Robusta contains twice as much caffeine and chlorogenic acids as Arabica. While the higher caffeine content does significantly contribute to disease resistance, it renders the beverage less desirable in taste. Arabica is also known to contain 60% more lipids and sugars than Robusta, further adding to its flavor. The sugars work to increase the aroma as well as the coffee’s body, while reducing bitterness and giving a cleaner mouth feel. Typically, Robusta coffee is known to be more bitter, woody, and leathery when compared to the sweeter, nuttier, and floral notes of Arabica beans. But cultivating Arabica beans also increases production costs and requires higher maintenance and greater care. This is why pure Arabica coffee can be quite expensive.
The following guide will examine the common varieties of Arabica coffee, while also looking at a little bit of history. We’ll also take a look at the flavor profile and general availability of each variety. But first, we mapped up a coffee “tree” to help highlight the interrelations between each set of varieties:
The three major branches we’ll cover here are Bourbon, Typica, and Heirloom- but we’ll also cover some Robusta/Arabica Hybrids as well as some Bourbon/Typica crosses. Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
There are mаnу vаriаntѕ оf Bourbon, аnd likе Tурiса, a lot of сultivаrѕ wеrе сrеаtеd frоm Bourbon. It was initiаllу dеvеlореd bу thе Frеnсh in 1708 аnd сultivаtеd оn аn iѕlаnd in thе Indiаn Oсеаn called Bourbon Island. The present gourmet variety is a slight mutation of the original parent crop, however, and the species soon found itself in Brazil, where it became a favorite amongst farmers. Now the plant is cultivated in many countries throughout the world, but it is still highly popular in South America and parts of Africa.
Bоurbоn hаѕ broader lеаvеѕ and mоrе рrоminеnt сhеrriеѕ thаn Typica, but like Typica, it iѕ also a соne-shaped рlаnt. Bоurbоn рrоduсеѕ 20-30% mоrе fruit thаn Tурiса, аnd it creates a more robust brеw.
Bourbon coffee beans occur in red, yellow, and orange (sometimes pink) mutant varieties, depending on its sub-variety. Each variety has very typical characteristics, but Yellow Bourbon coffee is the most unique characteristic given its pale-yellow color. It is a mutant variety of the Typica coffee plant that was first spotted in Brazil in the late 1800s.
Yellow Bourbon is said to have a distinctive quality displaying sweetness, a striking aroma, and a citrusy acidic flavor. Ripe fruit flavors and sweet raisins are other flavors you may notice when drinking a cup of Yellow Bourbon coffee.
Orange Bourbon, on the other hand, is sometimes called Pink Bourbon because of its peachy pink shade.
Bourbon beans are known for their rich, buttery, chocolaty flavors, with slight fruity overtones. They are valued for their complex acidity and wonderful balance. Just like any other coffee, these beans can present distinctly unique flavors, depending on climate, soil quality, and other factors.
Diѕсоvеrеd in Brazil, and named after the town in which it was discovered,this cultivar is actually a mutation of Bourbon coffee. Although it was originally found in Brazil, it thrives in Colombia, producing a vibrant brew with a zesty essence.
Like other Bourbon varieties, it has waxy lеаvеѕ with wavy edges. However, it is shorter and thick and busy in appearance. Although Caturra has a higher yield than other varieties of Bourbon, it requires a lot of care to thrive.
French Mission is a Bourbon variety that thrives in East African countries, such as Kenya – and as you can guess by the name, it was first cultivated by French missionaries. Back in the late 1800s, missionaries arrived in East Africa from the island of Java, bearing more than just the gospel. They planted a variety of coffee beans that were later referred to as “French Mission” in association with the cultivators.
This variety is mainly grown in the central region of Kenya, where it greatly benefits from the climatic conditions. This includes the medium-altitude, nutrient-rich volcanic soil, an average temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and around 3 inches of annual rainfall. After harvesting, the beans are sun-dried to compliment the coffee’s enticing notes.
As typical of Kenyan single-origin coffee, the French mission has penetrating or intense acidity. Therefore, this is not a cup for anyone with a history of heartburn or acid reflux. The flavor profile is dominated by fruity notes that continue into the finish. You might also experience notes of butter, honey, citrus, and black currants, along with a syrupy body.
Jackson is a Bourbon-related variety that is commonly found in Burundi and Rwanda. Most sources claim that it originated in India–just like the Coorg, Mysore, and Kent varieties. It’s credited to an Indian coffee farmer known as Mr. Jackson, who discovered the plant in the early 1900s. The seedlings from these “coffee rust-resistant” plants were sent to Tanzania and Kenya from Mysore, India. (Coffee leaf rust is a disease that affects coffee leaves, hindering their ability to perform photosynthesis.). These trees are believed to have given rise to the Jackson Bourbon variety that is common throughout Rwanda. The facts regarding how it got to Rwanda from East Africa are a bit unreliable and not well-documented.
Jackson coffee flourishes at an altitude of over 4,000 feet above sea level, and the wet mountainsides of Rwanda provide the ideal conditions for these plants. The beans undergo wash processing and are dried to facilitate a great body, relatively high acidity, a thick mouth feel, and notes of red grape, cider, and lime.
The K7 variety was ѕеlесtеd at Lеgеtеt Eѕtаtе in Muhoroni frоm thе Frеnсh Miѕѕiоn coffee. Itѕ ѕрrеаding hаbit оn young lаtеrаlѕ diѕtinguiѕhеѕ it, аlthоugh older primaries tеnd to bе dесumbеnt оr drooping. It hаѕ mеdium tо narrow lеаvеѕ with young ѕhооts that аrе bronze in соlоr. This plant hаѕ a resistance tо ѕоmе species of Coffee Leaf Rust аѕ wеll as a раrtiаl resistance to Coffee Berry Disease. It is ѕuitеd fоr lower аltitudеѕ where Coffee Leaf Rust is рrеvаlеnt.
Mibirizi is known as the first Rwandan coffee – it was brought to the African country by German missionaries in the 1930s. It is a natural mutation of the Bourbon variety that was first grown in the town on Mibirizi before spreading to the Kivu region and other parts of Rwanda.
The plant thrives in altitudes of between 5000 and 6000 feet above sea level and moisture of 11-12%. In Rwanda, it’s cultivated in hilly plateaus by small coffee farmers. Coffee is a primary export in the country, making it a key source of livelihood for the population. Mibirizi coffee is meticulously processed right from the selection, picking of the cherries, pulping, wet fermentation, and sun drying.
The traditional Mibirizi coffee has exceptional acidity with notes of herbs, honey, citrus, and butterscotch. It has an earthy, juicy aroma as well as a tea-like finish. Although Mibirizi typically has a creamy body, it’s has a fuller body when the roast level is at full. The high level of quality control coupled with the coffee’s unique taste profile have helped it to rank highly in competitions since 2006.
Mocha is a very confusing term in coffee circles. On the one hand, it refers to chocolate-flavored coffee sold in cafés such as Starbucks. On the other hand, it’s also an age-old variety of coffee originating from Yemen over a thousand years ago. The Moka/Mocha/Mokka variety is distinguished by its small berries (similar to peaberries) and short trees.
The plant is predominantly grown in the mountainous region of Yemen along the Red Sea. The name “mocha” derives from the port of Al-Mokha, which was the port of origin during the reign of the Ottoman Empire. This plant is grown under the shade of poplar trees where it’s irrigated and dry processed. As a side note, Yemen is one of the most significant countries in the history of coffee–right up there with Ethiopia.
Mocha is a lively coffee that’s admired for its deep earthy tones, wine acidity, and full body. It has notes of spice (cinnamon and cardamom) and fruit (raisins). This musky fruitiness is complemented by its trademark chocolaty finish that is pleasant to your taste buds.
N39 is a cultivar of the Bourbon variety that was developed by the Tanzania Coffee Research Institute (TACRI) in the 1930s. It was part of an intensive program to improve the production and quality of coffee in the region.
It’s grown at altitudes of 5000 feet above sea level in the northern and southern regions of Tanzania. Nowadays, the main cultivation areas are in Mbeya, Karatu, Arusha, and Kilimanjaro. The area receives around 1,400mm of rainfall annually, with short rain from October-December and a long rainy season from March-May. The harvest season and production cycle coincide with that of the neighboring nation of Kenya. The berries are home washed, fermented, then sundried.
Similar to Kenyan single-origin coffee, N39 has a complex taste profile characterized by a rich body and lively acidity. It also has notes of apricot, red berries, almonds, and honey.
The Pacas and Pacamara
The Paca variety was first discovered in 1956 on the El Salvador farm of Alberto Pacas Figueroa. It is a natural mutation of the Bourbon varietal and is highly prized for its vigor and resistance. The Pacas is well known for its medium body profile alongside its balance of acidity and sweetness. Flavors include strong floral and spice notes.
Bourbon Pointu, also known as Laurina, is a rare natural mutation of the Bourbon variety. The plant is believed to originate from Réunion, an island off the coast of Madagascar. The name Bourbon Pointu originates from the name of the island (previously known as Île Bourbon) and the way the beans taper (hence the term Pointu).
Laurina was first discovered in the 18th century before spreading east. However, its popularity and production steeply declined to near extinction in the 19th century due to its low yield and vulnerability to pests. It was not until the early 2000s when an agronomy graduate discovered a Laurina tree while staying at a Costa Rican estate.
The coffee variety is known for its low caffeine content and balanced body. It has jasmine and woody aromas with notes of clove, clove, fruit, and honey. Fun fact: Did you know Laurina is so rare that Starbucks recently sold one harvest of Bourbon Pointu for $32 per pound that sold out in a day?
Classic Kenyan specialty coffee found their origin in Scott Agricultural Laboratories in the 1930s. Scott Labs (SL), named for Dr. Henry Scott a Scottish missionary, has bred several different varieties of coffee, but the two most popular are the SL 28 and the SL 34.
The Kenyan flavor profile is generally described as a complex and fruity cup. The bright acidity, full-bodied flavor, and distinct aroma make this a favorite amongst coffee lovers. Since Kenya’s climate, topography, and micro and macro environments being very unique to this country, these coffees have not travelled outside their home.
It can be difficult to buy Kenyan coffee, especially the specific varieties, since the government has exercised a certain amount of control over the sale of their coffee via the Kenyan Coffee Board. Legislation has been relaxed in the recent past and the beans are beginning to be seen in the wider global market. Many specialty coffee companies sell the beans online.
The shorter Pacas plant was crossed with the taller Maragopipe plant, which has taller trees and produce some of the largest coffee seeds in the world. 30 years of careful scientific research led to the creation of the Pacamara varietal, which was released to coffee producers in the late 1980s. These seeds are typically known for their intense, complex aromas. The cup profile can be described as displaying medium to dense bodies with a creamy texture and an “elegant” acidity. Flavors can swing from sweet and chocolaty or butterscotch to fruity notes of citrus, red berries, and stone fruits.
Tekisic is a dwarf mutation of the popular Bourbon variety. It originates from El Salvador, where it makes up a significant portion of the country’s coffee production. Tekisik can currently be found in several Latin American countries, including Honduras and Guatemala. The berries of the plant are characteristically small and the branches are placed at a 45-degree angle similar to Villa Sarchi.
Did you know that Tekisic is derived from a Nahuatl (an Aztec dialect) word meaning “work”? And true to its meaning, it took the Salvadoran Institute for Coffee Research (ISIC) nearly three decades (1949 to 1977) to create the Bourbon-related variety from selections. The process involved selecting a group of individuals based on their performance and bulking them to form a new generation. The outcome was a variety that ripens early and has the potential for quality beans under the right conditions. The downside of Tekisic is its low productivity and susceptibility to major diseases, such as coffee leaf rust.
As mentioned earlier, the plant produces high-quality coffee that’s admired by coffee connoisseurs across the globe. It has intense sweetness (similar to brown sugar), a strong body, and a multi-layered acidity.
Villa Sarchi is a distinct natural mutation of the Bourbon variety. Its origins can be traced to Costa Rica, where it was grown in the town of Sarchi in the 50s. This dwarf plant is characterized by a mixture of green and brown leaves, and unique branches inclined at a 45-degree angle.
Villa Sarchi thrives under shaded canopies at high altitudes, and it’s resistant to strong winds. Due to these growing conditions, it is best suited for the mountainous regions of Costa Rica and Honduras. It’s also worth noting that this plant is grown using organic methods with minimal chemical inputs.
Coffee aficionados celebrate Villa Sarchi for its distinct fruity (berry) notes, excellent sweetness, and elegant acidity that make for one enjoyable cup of Joe.
A Typica is a high-grade subgenre of the C. Arabica varieties. It’s a tall plant with a low yield, but this coffee makes up for that by making an excellent cup of coffee that exhibits a particularly unique sweetness that is very popular. It is found in most coffee-cultivating countries of the world. Together, Typica and Bourbon are said to have formed most of the other coffee varieties of the world.
These beans brew a sweet, clean coffee and is easily available in various blends both as retail and wholesale online.
Arusha can either refer to a city in Tanzania or a sought-after Typica variety. It’s widely assumed that Arusha coffee found its way to Tanzania courtesy of the French missionaries. Regardless, it’s primarily grown in the southern region of Tanzania, especially around the volcanic Mt. Meru. But it’s not just Tanzania–Arusha is also found in Papua New Guinea.
What are the ideal growing conditions for Arusha coffee? The Typica variety thrives in high altitudes of over 4,500 feet above sea level. Most of the coffee from Tanzania qualifies as Strictly High Grown (SHG) due to the country’s high elevation. The plants also benefit from the rich soil, requiring little-to-no chemicals.
Tanzanian coffee has in the past experienced a bad rapport associated with poor transportation. There have been cases of defective batches that were steamed in their containers while in transit. Luckily, the southern region of Tanzania has better infrastructure and access to transportation–hence safeguarding the quality of the coffee.
Arusha coffee is beloved for its pleasant acidity, complex herby finish, and flavor notes of spicy molasses, gold raisin, and toasted praline. It’s definitely a cup worth trying!
Benguet Arabica, or Benguet coffee, is a single-origin Typica variety grown in a landlocked province in the Philippines. Although coffee is one of the main sources of livelihood for farmers in the Benguet province, the Benguet variety is listed as an endangered food in the Ark of Taste catalogue by the Slow Food Movement. Why is this? Benguet coffee is facing the risk of extinction due to a declining number of new plantings and a prohibition by local elders against pruning old trees, citing religious reasons.
According to the former governor of Benguet, the coffee was introduced in the Cordillera highlands by a Spanish military governor back in 1875. The Cordillera mountain range on the island of Luzon (northern region of the Philippines) has a suitable climate for the cultivation of high-quality Arabica coffee. This includes an elevation of around 1,600 meters above sea level, cultivation under the shade of Alnos and pine trees, and ample rainfall.
The coffee cherries are hand-picked (mostly by women) and processed naturally. Natural Benguet beans have a distinct sweetness and notes of lime or strawberries. When they undergo wash-processing, the beans have flavor notes of spice, nutmeg, cardamom, cacao nibs, and dried fruit. They are also characterized by an acidity comparable to Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee or Hawaiian Kona coffee.
Ever heard of the Roya leaf rust outbreak in the early 19th century? This was the disease that wiped out entire coffee fields in Indonesia–all except for a few coffees, including the Bergendal and Sidikalang Typica varieties.
The varieties are named after their growing regions in Sidikalang (west of Lake Toba) and Bergendal. These old Typica are extremely hard to come by since most farmers cultivate contemporary Arabicas or hybrids such as Atena and Tim Tim. To find the century-old Sidikalang or Bergendal trees, some determined roasters trek to remote regions with altitudes as high as 4,500 feet above sea level.
The Typica varieties are highly sought-after for their unique cupping notes. The coffee has a dry and spicy fragrance, with woody and milky caramel notes. You might also identify fruity notes of papaya or mango in the aroma. With a light roast, you get a culmination of slight fruit, mulling spice mix, scented wood, and Cajeta-like (a Mexican caramel sauce) sweetness. At a City + roast level, the coffee cools to a banana bread flavor. The Full City or Full City + roasting levels give a classic Mandheling cup a balanced milk/chocolate body and low acidity. Bergendal and Sidikalang coffees have a dry finish and rustic funk that is reminiscent of a Sumatra cup.
Jamaican Blue Mountain
We’ve covered Jamaican Blue Mountain three times previously- in our look at Jamaican Blue Mountain generally, in our most expensive coffees guide, and in our look at Peet’s Reserve Jamaican Blue Mountain.
Jamaican Blue Mountain (JBM) is a strain of the Typica variety that originates from Jamaica–as evident by the name. It was introduced to the tropical country in the 18th century by Sir Nicholas Lawes. In order for beans to qualify for the name JBM they must meet certain criteria, similar to champagne. This includes its cultivation at altitudes of between 3,000-5,500 feet in the Blue Mountain range (Portland Parish, Saint Thomas, Saint Mary, or Saint Andrew), which is the longest and highest mountain range in the country.
The coffee is cultivated at altitudes as high as 21,000 feet above sea level on the hillsides of the mountains. This makes JBM challenging to cultivate as well as labor-intensive, since the beans have to be handpicked. While the growing conditions facilitate high-quality beans, they also take significantly longer to mature than other coffees. They are fully wet-processed and sun-dried to maintain a moisture of 11.5%.
Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is often listed as one of the most expensive coffees in the world–and rightfully so. It’s a scarce and rare coffee, but it’s definitely worth a try. The coffee is renowned in the coffee industry for its clean profile, vibrant acidity, low bitterness, and mild flavor, paired with exciting floral, nutty, and nutty notes. The bean seems to have the perfect balance of syrup, sugar, and cream to make a well-balanced cup.
Mосhа Jаvа coffee bringѕ tоgеthеr two оutѕtаnding соffееѕ tо create something that’s оut оf this world. Thе Mосhа Jаvа blend inсludеѕ Arаbiаn (Yеmеn) Mосhа соffее аnd Indоnеѕiаn Jаvа Arаbiса coffee, which рrоduсеѕ a uniԛuе соffее with thе реrfесt balance оf wild intensity and сhаrасtеriѕtiс ѕmооthnеѕѕ. A соffее thаt аbѕоlutеlу аnуоnе саn enjoy, Mосhа Java Cоffее is undoubtedly wеll-knоwn аnd revered. But fеw rеаlizе thаt it was сrеаtеd еntirеlу bу ассidеnt. Fаr frоm a wоrk of саrеful engineering and blеnding, it wаѕ mеrеlу a case of thе twо types оf bеаnѕ bеing mixеd uр by ассidеnt in thе hull оf a ship during transportation.
Did you know that the Kent coffee variety was named after one of the Indian planters working in a selection program to develop a “coffee leaf rust-resistant” plant?
Kent coffee is credited to Mr. L.P. Kent, who made a selection from a single tree in Mysore, India in 1911. It was later introduced to Tanzania and Kenya in the 1920s. While the K7 cultivar of the plant is widely grown throughout Kenya, the Kent cultivar has flourished in India for over nine decades. Although Kent is regarded as one of the first coffee varietals resistant to leaf rust, the resistance gradually broke down over time.
This coffee features floral, nutty, and spicy notes, with a light body and delicate acidity.
We previously took a look at Kona and other Hawaiian coffees in our Hawaiian coffee guide.
It’ѕ well known that Hawaii is responsible fоr grоwing some оf the bеѕt coffee bеаnѕ in the world -Kоnа coffee, in particular, stands out аѕ an unmissable variety.
Onсе аgаin, it’ѕ the unique climate and conditions at which the bеѕt Kоnа coffee grоw that make it such a remarkable specimen. Pеrсhеd on the often-treacherous slopes оf Mauna Lоа аnd Hualаlаi vоlсаnоеѕ, the fertile soil produces a light, delicate, and refreshing coffee with a rich and satisfying complexity.
A medium-bodied Hаwаiiаn coffee with great bаlаnсе and zеѕtу acidity- there’s a subtle hint оf winе with a ѕеmi-ѕрiсу аftеrtаѕtе paired with a beautiful buttеrу smoothness уоu саn’t get еnоugh оf. An absolute hit with rеаl coffee experts, Kоnа соffее is generally well liked by everyone.
Alѕо, in Hаwаii, the soil contains an ideal combination of minеrаlѕ and acids that the coffee bean can absorb from the water. Thе coffee beans are harvested manually without machinery tо ensure hаndling with саrе.
Also known as the “‘elephant bean”, Maragogype is a natural, but rare, mutation of a Typica variety discovered in 1870 near the town of Maragogipe, Brazil. It’s currently cultivated in Latin American countries such as Mexico, Guatemala, and Brazil. The plant can be distinguished by its unusually large beans (nearly twice the size of typical coffee beans) and it also has large leaves with internode spacing, courtesy of a single dominant gene. The Maragogype coffee plant is taller and larger than usual Bourbon and Typica varieties.
Maragogype is a low-yielding plant with porous beans–i.e. its flavor is dependent on the characteristics of the soil. This necessitates cultivation in highly fertile soils in order to produce an exceptional cup. Although the plant is well-adapted to low-medium altitudes, the cup profile improves significantly at 4,500 feet above sea level.
What should you expect from a cup of high-quality Maragogype coffee? The drink has a floral aroma, a velvety mouth feel, and taste notes of wild berry, spicy oak, and chocolate fudge. The acidity is sweet and tart with a berry finish.
Pache coffee is a natural mutation of Typica originating from Guatemala. The original Pache has given birth to several sub-varieties like Pache Colis and Pache Comum. Most of the Pache beans come from large coffee cherries and have robust leaves.
Most Pache cups are characterized by a smooth, relatively flat profile.
This Typica coffee plant was introduced to the Philippines in the late 19th century and is grown mainly on artisanal farms primarily by women. It is finding great popularity amongst roasters and cafes for its pine aroma, floral notes, and caramelly sweetness. Ador’s Coffee sells single-origin Sagada coffee at $17.85 for 250g.
From Colombia, the land of Juan Valdez (the iconic coffee farmer and his mule), comes San Bernardo–a Typica cultivar that defines the unique flavor and taste profile of Colombian coffee. Most sources agree that Colombian coffee was brought to the South American country by Jesuit Priests in the 18th century.
The plant is cultivated in Colombia’s Central Growing Axis at altitudes of 4,200 feet above sea level. San Bernardo coffee is well-suited for the wet climate and nutrient-rich soils of Colombia’s coffee-growing regions.
San Bernardo is a well-rounded Arabica coffee that shares some of the cupping characteristics of its Typica ancestor. It’s rich in flavor with chocolatey notes that blend perfectly with cinnamon and nutmeg undertones. Generally, a cup of San Bernardo coffee is clean and easy to drink.
San Ramon originated from the Typica coffee variety. The tree is known to be wind tolerant, drought resistant, productive, and small in size (due to dwarfism). The tree has short branches and produces few berries in comparison to other Typica varieties. It’s also resistant to disease.
San Ramon is cultivated in the hills of Guatemala at altitudes of 5,100 feet above sea level. The plant grows under the shade of trees with minimal use of chemicals. The hand-picked cherries are fully wash-processed in order to maintain the high-quality characteristics of the beans. San Ramon coffee has a full body and tasting notes of stone fruit.
Sumatra Lintong and Mandheling
We previously looked at Sumatran coffees in our Sumatran coffee review.
Lintong and Mandheling coffees are grown on the island of Sumatra.
With an earthy aroma, Mandheling is recognized worldwide as a high-grade coffee. The name Mandheling actually refers to a specific ethnic group from the area.
Lintong is sweet and has a mild body with low acidity. It has an earthy aroma, similar to Mandheling, and a heavy, complex body. Lintong is the name of a market in central Sumatra, near Lake Toba.
Villalobos is a highly productive coffee plant grown in South and Central America. Specifically, it is believed to have occurred in Costa Rica. Villalobos bears a close similarity with Villa Sarchi; only that it’s a natural mutation of the Typica variety, not Bourbon.
The plant is highly resistant to strong winds and poor soil, making it easy to cultivate in high elevations (5,100 feet above sea level) and on the slopes of Costa Rica. Ripe berries from Villalobos trees are orange, and they often undergo an impeccable processing method to produce high-quality washed coffees.
This beans are also known for a delightful sweetness and fine acidity, with strong notes of raw sugar, fruit, and berry.
Craving a cup that’s lush and delicate, yet deep and musky? If so, we highly recommend Agaro coffee. This coffee hails from the exotic southern Ethiopian coffee-growing region, and it’s respected for its fine produce.
Southern Ethiopian coffees, such as Agaro, are sourced from traditional and heirloom Arabica varieties that are well adapted to the region. The trees grow at an altitude between 5,700 to 6,600 feet above sea level under the cover of trees and dense clouds.
The coffee cherries undergo the washed or wet processing method, whereby the fruit pulp and skin are removed before the beans are dried. Due to the unique climate conditions and processing methods, Agaro coffee typically expresses great intensity, complexity, and aromatic quality.
The cup is surprisingly deep with a supple mouth feel and flavorful finish. It has a tangerine, guava, strawberry, lily, and nutty aroma. This is complemented by a rich, honey-like, levitating flavor with notes of caramel, cocoa, tea rose, and citrus.
Ethiорiаn Hаrrаr cоffее dеѕеrvеѕ a рlасе оn this liѕt for itѕ wоndеrfullу еxоtiс сhаrасtеriѕtiсѕ. This extraordinary соffее iѕ grоwn exclusively at еlеvаtiоnѕ between 4,500 аnd 6,300 fееt аbоvе ѕеа lеvеl in thе south оf Ethiорiа, which in соmbinаtiоn with dry рrосеѕѕing rеѕultѕ in a ѕеriоuѕlу grеаt cup filled with hеаvу nоtеѕ оf rеd winе.
Floral, fruitу, and packing a perfect acidic punch, Ethiopian Hаrrаr Coffee iѕ nоthing if nоt аn intеnѕе experience. Sometimes a littlе tоо harsh fоr those nоt uѕеd to hаrd-hitting coffees, some examples оf Ethiорiаn Harrar leave bеhind a long-lasting chocolate aftertaste, whilе оthеrѕ veer mоrе tоwаrd ѕрiсу сinnаmоn and cardamom.
Did you that some historical records and theories trace the origin of coffee to Ethiopia. Yep, you favorite cup of Joe was likely birthed in this East African country with a rich heritage. Unsurprisingly, Ethiopian coffees are among the world’s most distinctive and varied – case in point, the Ethiopian Sidamo. As the name suggests, the Typica variety is grown in the Sidamo region, south of the capital city of Addis Ababa.
The Sidamo region is reputable for its ideal climate conditions for coffee cultivation and is located at a high altitude of between 4,800 to 5,700 feet above sea level. Combined with the rich soils (enriched by animal manure and decaying plant matter), optimal temperature, and ample rainfall, it’s the most productive province in Ethiopia. It’s also worth noting that the plants are shade-grown, bird-friendly, organic, and interspersed with root crops, avocados, mangoes, ginger, and cardamom. Simply put, this coffee is grown in a sustainable and diverse multi-crop environment.
Ethiopian Sidamo is often harvested between October and December, in accordance with the climate conditions and the ripening of cherries. The Typica variety is mainly sun-dried and fully wash-processed, providing consistent quality.
When it comes to the cupping notes, Ethiopian Sidamo is an elegant cup with an aroma of cocoa, citrus, and flowers. It has lemony, tea-like flavors and notes of blueberries, vanilla, strawberries, and hints of hazelnut. The coffee has a bright, smooth, and sweet body. It’s a cup that you’d enjoy drinking over and over.
In Ethiopia’s Sidamo region lies the town of Yirgacheffe, which is arguably the site of this coffee’s origin. Yirgacheffe is renowned in coffee circles for its washed coffee beans that produce a classic, elegant cup.
The high quality of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe is credited to its growing conditions under dense cloud cover and elevations of up to 6,600 feet above sea level. At such heights Arabicas mature slowly, leading to its signature qualities. In fact, the coffee is frequently reviewed and rated as one of the highest quality coffees. The coffee is wash-processed to enhance its acidity, and sundried to add complexity.
A medium roast is preferable to enhance its bright acidity and allow other delicate qualities to shine. With this in mind, a fine Ethiopian Yirgacheffe has a distinctly bright acidity, and an intense, yet clean taste along with a floral aroma, and hints of coconut. The finish is vibrant with undertones of wine or berry. Some premium coffees might display chocolaty or nutty qualities, while others have citrus and tangerine tones. Yirgacheffes are generally more fruity, aromatic, and milder than Ghimbi coffee.
Originating nеаr thе tоwn of Gеѕhа, Ethiopia, but imроrtеd tо Pаnаmа, thiѕ vаriеtу iѕ the nеw kid on thе blосk thаt’ѕ bееn ԛuiсklу riѕing in thе rаnkѕ еvеr ѕinсе it wоn tор hоnоrѕ in thе 2004 Pаnаmаniаn Cup of Exсеllеnсе соmреtitiоn.
Growing аt a high altitude in thе Central Amеriсаn trорiсѕ givеѕ it a uniԛuе, delicate tаѕtе thаt bringѕ tо mind trорiсаl fruit, jasmine, and honeysuckle. Gеѕhа (ѕоmеtimеѕ called Geisha) соffее iѕ currently one оf thе world’s mоѕt еxреnѕivе types оf соffее.
In the period starting around 1390, a powerful kingdom dominated what is now Ethiopia. This monarchy was known as the Kingdom of Kaffa. Although it was annexed in 1897 by the Ethiopian Empire and erased from the face of the earth, the Kaffa coffee variety keeps the name alive. Fun fact: the word “Kaffa is believed to be from the Arabic word “Gahwah,” which translates to “a drink from berries”.
Rainforests in the Kaffa province facilitate the perfect environment for producing one of the highest qualities of coffee in the world. The southern region of Ethiopia is characterized by high elevations, lush vegetation, and deep soils brimming with nutrients. Arabica coffees are grown in the shade of other plants with minimal agricultural chemicals.
Coffee is a significant source of income for the Ethiopian economy as well as the local farmers who cultivate the crop. Unfortunately, a declining forest continues to threaten their livelihoods. Some sources claim that up to 60% of trees in the Kaffa rainforests were lost in the past three decades. This might explain why an area (the Kaffa Biosphere Reserve) within the province was identified by UNESCO’s “Man and the Biosphere Programme”, aiming to protect the environment and promote sustainable development in the Kaffa region.
Did you know that Kaffa coffee beans are grown alongside wild plants in the region? This might explain their complex flavor profile. The cup has a medium body, rich acidity, and a silky mouth feel. Kaffa coffee has distinct fresh pipe tobacco, lavender, orange, citrus, blackberry, and cola notes, with a chocolaty finish. The enticing flavor is persistent and complex, making for an excellent cup of coffee.
Rambung is a cultivar found in Indonesia, but it originated in Ethiopia. In particular, Abyssinia and Rambung Ethiopian land varieties were transplanted in Indonesia nine decades ago, in 1928.
Tafarikela is an Ethiopian variety that earned its name from Mizan Tafari back in 1953. The plant is characterized by its drooping branches, the small fruits that ripen earlier than typical Arabicas, and its dark bronze leaf tip.
Like other Arabica beans of Ethiopian origin, the Tafarikela variety grows relatively well in the mountainous regions of the country. These regions have fertile soils and ample rainfall to foster great-tasting beans. Although Tafarikela coffee is susceptible to the dreaded leaf rust, it portrays horizontal resistance against the build-up of rust under normal conditions.
Wolisho, or Walichu, is a Typica variety that has its roots in the legendary highlands of Ethiopia. The coffee plant is named after an indigenous tree, native to the Gedeo region of Ethiopia. Wolisho coffee is distinguished by its large fruits, tall canopy, stiff stem, and long leaves.
The plant is cultivated at an altitude of between 5,100 to 6,600 feet above sea level. Due to this height, the fruits take relatively longer to mature, leading to high-quality beans. Under a medium roast, Wolisho coffee has tasting notes of blood orange, peach, and a floral aroma.
Acaia, or Acaia Cerrado, is a rather rare natural mutation predominant in Brazil. It’s well-adapted to the Brazilian growing conditions, where it grows at altitudes greater than 2,400 feet above sea level. Acaia is a hybrid of the Mundo Novo, which is a hybrid of Bourbon and Typica varieties. The moniker “Acaiá” is actually a Tupi-Guarani word meaning “great fruit”.
The Acaia tree has a generally great resilience and high productivity. It can be distinguished by its triangular shape that allows the plant to absorb sunlight homogeneously. However, it’s susceptible to pests and some common diseases
Unlike other Brazilian coffee beans that are often bold bodied, Acaia has a mild body with a higher acidity.
Thiѕ сultivаr wаѕ сrеаtеd thrоugh a сrоѕѕ bеtwееn Cаturrа аnd Mundо Novo. Likе Cаturrа, Catuai is a compact, bushy-lооking рlаnt with a high уiеld. Cаtuаi rеԛuirеѕ a lot оf attention аnd fеrtilizаtiоn tо thrivе, аnd it уiеldѕ yellow and rеd сhеrriеѕ thаt produce a rоbuѕt brew.
This is a man-made hуbrid рlаnt between thе Maragogype аnd Cаturrа. It wаѕ initiаllу brеd tо reproduce thе аrоmа оf the Mаrаgоgуре аlоng with the highеr yield аnd productivity of thе Caturra variety.
The Mundo Novo Arabica coffee from Brazil is a crossbred coffee that highly popular with the farmers there because of its high resistance to disease, ability to grow at comparatively lower altitudes, and the high yield. The crop is a mix of Red Bourbon and Sumatra varieties. It is low in acidity and has sweet, full-bodied undertones. Depending on the blend, flavors can offer up nutty tones, like almond or pecan, as well as earthier caramel or toffee tones.
Did you know that the annual Cup of Excellence event is hosted in Brazil and that the Mundo Novo almost always makes an appearance there?
Catimor iѕ рrоduсеd аѕ a blending соffее. It’ѕ a соmmеrсiаl hуbrid оf Arabica аnd Robusta соffее. Thiѕ cultivar iѕ a further dеvеlорmеnt оf thе Timоr cultivаr. Due tо the fасt thаt it reproduces, can рrоduсе a high уiеld аt lоwеr аltitudеѕ, аnd iѕ disease rеѕiѕtаnt, this has bесоmе the idеаl crop fоr fаrmеrѕ. You’ll find Catimor grоwn in соuntriеѕ with a lоt оf nаturаl rаinfаll аѕ it requires a lot of water.
The Ruiru 11 is another Kenyan special first developed at the Ruiri station in the 1970s. It was released in 1985 and is a hybrid variety prized for its resistance to most diseases. It was developed mainly because of its resistance to disease. It displays a typical Kenyan cup profile in terms of acidity and flavor, though this coffee bean is not as well liked on its own and is typically sold by specialty coffee vendors in blends with SL 28 and SL 34.
The S795, or Selection 795, originated in India and is known as the first selection that is resistant to leaf rust. This, along with having a great yield, good size, and good cup profile, make it a very desirable coffee bean. Its flavor has been described as exotic, presenting several layers of aromas as well as tones, ranging between spicy and distinctly peppery to chocolaty and starchy notes.
S9, or Selection 9, is another high-quality coffee crop from India that is known for its disease resistance. It is a hybrid between an Ethiopian Arabica and the Timor. It is not very freely available in the US, yet many coffee estates in India sell the beans in bulk. It is an award-winning variety with cupping notes of citrus, caramel, chocolate and nuts.
Sarchimor is a prime example of an introgressed variety (meaning plants that contain genetics and traits from multiple species). In particular, this coffee is a hybrid of the Costa Rica Villa Sarchi (Arabica) and Timor (Hybrid or Robusta and Arabica). Sarchimor is predominantly grown in Costa Rica and India.
It’s also worth noting that Sarchimor is resistant to stem borer and coffee leaf rust disease due to inherited traits from Timor Hybrid. This resistance–combined with the high production compact stature inherited from Villa Sarchi–makes Sarchimor a popular plant amongst coffee farmers. While the coffee trees are well-adapted to low and medium altitudes, the potential of the cup increases the higher you go.
Baristas, specialty buyers, and coffee aficionados are traditionally skeptical of rust-resistant coffee varieties, since they are often associated with poor quality. But according to the World Coffee Research Organization, Sarchimor maintains good quality at high altitudes. In fact, Sarchimor won the 2017 Honduran Cup of Excellence award as a testament to the quality of the beans. The cupping profile includes a rich body with notes of red berries and cocoa.
Sulawesi Kalossi and Toraja
We previously discussed Sulawesi Toraja here.
The Kalossi is a full-bodied wild and spicy aromatic cup with a highly complex brew. It has a strong aroma, which you can smell from quite a distance away. It is a predecessor to the Toraja, which has a cleaner, brighter cup quality. Most Sulawesi coffees are actually of the S795 variety.
Sulawesi is an Indonesian island, previously known as Celebes. The name Kalossi comes from the Dutch interpretation of the name “Celebes”.
This is a unique variety of coffee first discovered on the Indonesian island of Timor in the 1940s. Interestingly enough, the species is a hybrid between Robusta and Arabica and is well known for its resistance to disease.
It has a medium to full body and a vibrant, yet low-toned acidity.