Coffee Varieties

Coffee Varieties
There are over 100 species of coffee plant. Outside of the two we know and consume, Coffea canephora (or "robusta") and Coffea arabica, these species are not suitable for commercial use. However, due to the lack of diversity in the coffee plants grown for consumption, scientists and growers are concerned as a disease or parasite that affects one plant can affect them all.

Coffea canephora was named robusta because of its hardiness. It can be grown in harsher environments than arabica coffee—lower altitudes, warmer temperatures—and it is much more resistant to disease and pests. Because of this, the robusta bean has a higher growth yield which makes it significantly less expensive than the arabica. The problem is robusta does not have a very good taste.

Most store-bought brands are a blend of robusta with arabica mixed in to take the edge off. This keeps the cost of store-bought brand coffees more palatable. Robusta is also used for instant coffee. In addition, the caffeine content in robusta coffee is nearly twice that of arabica.

Interestingly enough, once scientists studied the genes of both robusta and arabica they found that the two are not only related, robusta is actually a parent of arabica. Somewhere along the line, Coffea canephora crossed with Coffea eugenioides to produce Coffea arabica.

There are over 100 species of coffee plant. Outside of the robusta and arabica, these species are not considered for commercial use. However, due to the lack of diversity in the coffee plants grown for consumption, scientists and growers are concerned since a disease or parasite that affects one plant can affect them all.

Within the different species of coffees, there are different varieties or cultivars. Each variety has its own look, yield, resistance to disease, mouthfeel, and yes, even taste. Most farmers choose to grow a certain variety, not because of how it tastes, but because of how much they can produce. This makes sense as it is their livelihood and the more they can grow and sell, the more money they can make to support themselves.

At, we carry some of the most common varieties of coffee known for their excellent quality and undeniable taste.

This variety has many sub-varieties, just to confuse the issue further. These include Jamaica Blue Mountain, Java, Catimor, Djember, Kona, and Ateng among others. Typica is considered the original variety and it is widely believed that all other Coffea arabica varieties came from this. As the Dutch spread coffee around the world, this is the plant they took with them. This red fruited variety produces an excellent brew though it has a lower yield compared to some of the other varieties. You can find Typica variety in the following coffees:
  • Bali
  • Hawaiian Kona Volcanic Estate
  • Java
  • Kenya AA – including decaf
  • Organic Bolivia (also Bourbon)
  • Organic Ethiopia Sidamo
  • Organic Guatemala (also Bourbon)
  • Organic Mexico ‘Altura Tollan’
  • Organic Peruvian – including decaf (also Bourbon, Caturra, Mundo Novo, Catuai)
  • Organic Sumatra
  • Organic Sumatra Dark Roast
  • Sumatra Dark Roast
  • Tanzania Peaberry

This variety is a natural mutation of the Typica variety. It gets its name from the island of Bourbon, now called Réunion. The fruit of the Bourbon variety is diverse with shades of red, orange, and yellow. It has a higher yield than its parent, Typica. Some believe this variety has a sweeter taste than others, making it a more profitable fruit. Bourbon is found in these coffees:
  • Brazil Santos
  • Guatemala (also Caturra and Catuai)
  • Organic Bolivia (also Typica)
  • Organic Dominican Republic
  • Organic El Salvador
  • Organic Guatemala (also Typica)
  • Organic Peruvian (also Typica, Caturra, Mundo Novo, Catuai)
  • Panama Boquete (also Caturra and Catuai)

Caturra is a mutation of the Bourbon variety. It is a semi-dwarf plant that is easy to harvest, has high yields, and can be found to grow either red or yellow cherries. This variety brews into a good tasting cup with plants grown in higher elevations having better quality than those at lower elevations. Discovered in Brazil, this plant is extremely popular in Central America.
  • Colombia Supremo
  • Costa Rica
  • Costa Rica Tarrazu
  • Guatemala (also Bourbon and Catuai)
  • Maui Red (also Mundo Novo)
  • Maui Yellow
  • Organic Peruvian (also Bourbon, Typica, Mundo Novo, Catuai)
  • Panama Boquete (also Bourbon and Catuai)

A hybrid of both Caturra and Mundo Novo varieties, the Catuai was created in the 1950s by the Instituto Agronomico do Campinas in Brazil. Like the Caturra, this semi-dwarf plant grows either red or yellow cherries and has high yields.
  • Brazil Cerrado (also Mundo Novo)
  • Guatemala (also Bourbon and Caturra)
  • Organic Peruvian (also Bourbon, Caturra, Mundo Novo, Typica)
  • Panama Boquete (also Bourbon and Caturra)

Mundo Novo
Mundo Novo is a natural hybrid of Bourbon and Typica. It was named for the location it was discovered in Brazil. Since the 1940s, this high-yield variety has been grown for its resistance to pests and disease and its ability to produce at the lower altitudes—3,300 – 3,900 feet—common in Brazil.
  • Brazil Cerrado (also Catuai)
  • Maui Red (also Yellow Caturra)
  • Organic Peruvian (also Typica, Bourbon, Caturra, Catuai)

Originally developed to be resistant to coffee leaf rust, the Kent variety is named for a planter who worked on the selection in India in the 1920s. It is now no longer resistant to leaf rust due to the new strains of the disease.
  • India Malabar
  • India Mysore

Gesha (Geisha)
Though named for Gesha, a town in western Ethiopia, this variety is grown in Panama and is more commonly known as Geisha. Believed to have come by way of Costa Rica, this exceptionally floral and aromatic variety has grown in popularity and now many producers are growing it in Central and South America.
  • Organic Colombia

Not really a variety but a regional name trademarked by Ethiopia. Ethiopian coffees are named for the area in which they are grown. These “varieties” are wild cultivars from the indigenous Coffeea arabica plants from this “birthplace of coffee.”
  • Ethiopia Yirgacheffe
  • Ethiopia Harrar
  • Mocca-Java

Other Varieties
There are countless other varieties of coffee, especially when you consider the wild arabicas or heirloom varieties that have yet to be catalogued. Some additional cultivars that you may have heard of or have seen, but aren’t carried by include
  • SL-28
  • SL-34
  • S795
  • Maragogype
  • Pacamara
  • Pacas
  • Villa Sarchi