Bean Varieties


There are numerous types of Arabica coffee varieties some of which are natural mutations and others that are a result of cross breeding. Although many strictly think of coffee based on its origin, the variety will impact the taste characteristics based on the soil and climate of which it was grown, as well as how its cultivated and processed after being harvested. A great comparison of this is with apples, you have numerous possibilities in variety such as the Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Fuji, etc.


Typica originated from Yemeni stock and is considered to be the variety from which all other varieties have developed. It was originally spread by the Dutch to Malabar, Indonesia, and India for commercial production and its reach has continued to spread worldwide. Its fruit is generally red and it can produce great quality, but with smaller yield. Since it is grown worldwide it is known by several other names, not limited to Sumatra, Kona, Arabigo, etc.


Bourbon originated in 1708 when the French planted Typica on the island of Bourbon (now known as Reunion) and it naturally mutated. It is now planted throughout Brazil and Latin America. Its fruit is red, yellow, and sometimes orange. Bourbon has a unique sweetness and produces a higher yield than Typica by about 20-30%.


Mundo Novo is a naturally occurring hybrid between Bourbon and Typica that was discovered in the 1940s in Mundo Novo, Brazil. It is preferred for its strength, resistance to disease, higher yield, and success at higher altitudes (1,000-1,200m).


Caturra is a mutation of the Bourbon variety, discovered in Caturra, Brazil in the 1930s. This variety is popular in Columbia, Central America, and Brazil. Its fruit is red and yellow, and its yield decreases as its altitude increases. When its yields are high it runs the potential for overbearing, where it produces more fruit than the tree can sustain resulting in dieback. Caturra is referred to as dwarf or semi-dwarf, generally matures more quickly,and is more disease resistant than older Arabica varities.


Catuai is a hybrid between Mundo Novo and Caturra that was created in Brazil during the 1950-60s. Its fruit is red and yellow and it was bred to have the stength and same yield of Mundo Novo and the dwarf characteristics of the Caturra bean.


Maragogype is an easily recognizable mutation that was originally discovered in Brazil. It is most well known and desired for its ability to produce big beans. Its fruits usually ripen red and its yield is generally lower due to its larger than normal leaves. It is sometimes known as the Elephant Bean.


SL-28 was created in Kenya by Scott Laboratories during the 1930s from a drought resistant variety from Northern Tanzania. Its fruits ripen red and its beans are larger than average in size. SL-28 grows better at higher altitudes and is desired for its distinct fruit flavor that is described as blackcurrant.


SL-34 was created in Kenya by Scott Laboratories from French Mission Bourbon. Its fruits ripen red and it is capable of distinct fruit flavors. SL-34 is generally considered to be inferior to SL-28 in terms of cup quality.


Although there is some debate between the correct name for this variety, there is no debating its exceptionally aromatic/floral cup. The variety was brought to Panama from Costa Rica, but it is believed to be of Ethiopian origin and named Gesha after a town in western Ethiopia. It was planted in the 1950s and rediscovered in the 2000s. It is extremely sought after in auction, fetching high prices and high demand..


Pacas is a naturally occurring mutation of the Bourbon variety that was discoverer in El Salvador in 1949 by the Pacas family. Its fruits are red and are low growing, making picking easy. It has a very similar cup quality to the Bourbon bean variety.


Villa Sarchi is another natural occurring mutation of the Bourbon variety. It was named after Villa Sarchi, Costa Rica where it was discovered. Like the Pacas variety, Villa Sarchi is low growing. Its fruits ripen red and it produces very high yields with excellent cup quality.


Pacamara was created in El Salvador in 1958 and is a cross between the Maragogype and the Pacas variety. Similar to the Maragogype variety it has large leaves, fruit, and beans. Its fruits ripen red and its cup can range in taste from chocolate and fruit to an unpleasant herbal or onion.


Kent was developed in the 1920s in India for its resistance to leaf rust. It was named after a planter who worked on the selection.


S795 is a cross between S228 and Kent which was developed in India. It is planted in India and Indonesia for its resistance to leaf rust, however it is considered to be losing its resistance.