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Coffee Varieties

Coffee Varieties
2016-06-11 Tero Rehula

Arabica & Robusta

Coffee varieties are divided to two main varieties: Arabica and Robusta. These are further divided into multiple varieties and different coffees taste completely different based on the growth conditions of the coffee.

In practice, all specialty coffees are Arabica.

However, not all Arabica is a specialty coffee. Arabica is cultivated more around the world than Robusta, because of its better flavor. Robusta is more productive and less susceptible to plant diseases, such as leaf rust. However, Robustas taste is one-dimensional and bitter. On top of Arabica and Robusta, there is a third main variety Liberica, but its share of the coffee production is less than 1% and it tastes bitter.

The choice of coffee variety is a major decision for a coffee farmer. Normally the varieties with the best flavor have a smaller yield. New, more productive coffee varieties with better taste are being developed constantly all over the world. The more traditional varieties have still maintained their positions in the taste tests. All of the most known coffee varieties are Arabica.

Coffee varieties. Coffee Family Tree by Cafe Imports.

A Comprehensive Coffee Family Tree.

The most famous coffee varieties (Arabica)


Bourbon is the other of the two main varieties of Arabica, along with Typica. It was created on the Island of Bourbon in the 18th century. The variety arrived into Brazil late 19th century and quickly spread around South and Middle America. Bourbon isn’t an extremely productive variety, but produces an excellent cup of coffee. Multiple variations have been developed from Bourbon.


Catimor is a mix between Caturra and Timor, that was created in Portugal in 1959. Due to Timor being a variety of Robusta, Catimors acidity is low and the flavor is a bit bitter. However, Catimor is a great match for the environment in Indonesia and it produces pleasantly herbal flavors.


Catuai is a hybrid of Caturra and Mundo Novo. It was created in Brazil in the 1940s and it was created to be more productive, but equally high quality as Caturra.


Caturra was created in Brazil in the 1930’s. The variety is based on a natural mutation of Bourbon. It is a bit lower than Bourbon and has more branches, which makes Caturra a bit more productive. Quality-wise it is a very close match to Bourbon.


Heirloom is an Ethiopian wild variety, that is an inheritor of the original coffee bushes growing in the Ethiopian forests. Nowadays Heirloom has multiple recognizable variants and depending on the village, Heirloom is always slightly different. Heirloom sub-varieties include Kurume and Welicho and its flavor is pleasantly acidity and juicy.


Geisha (also Gesha) is a high-quality variety, that is especially found in Panama. It is originally from the Ethiopian village of Gesha. Nowadays the Geisha from Panama is considered one of the best coffees in the world and has an extremely high price.

Mundo Novo

Mundo Novo is a mix between Bourbon and Typica. The variety was created in the 1940’s and is especially suited for the Brazilian growth conditions. Because of its high yield, it is one of the most famous coffee varieties grown in Brazil.

SL28 & SL34

SL28 & SL34 grow in Kenya. Most of the high quality coffees from Kenya include both of these varieties. SL comes from Scott Laboratories, a company that the Kenyan government hired in the 1930’s to create a productive and resistant coffee variety. They failed in their given mission, but managed to create the SL28 and SL34 varieties, that have an intensely citrusy, sweet and multidimensional flavor profiles. SL28 and SL34 are some of the most expensive ones, when it comes to raw coffees.


Timor (also Tim Tim) is a natural mix of Arabica and Robusta that was found on the island of Timor in the 1940’s. Because of the Robusta, the coffee is great at surviving with leaf rust. Timor is very rarely the lone variety in coffees.


Typica (also Tipica) is the forefather of coffees. It has spread around the world and it has adapted to local climates, creating many different variations like Kona (Hawaii) and Blue Mountain (Jamaica). Typically, Typicas yield is small, but the quality is extremely high. The flavor is often magnificently sweet and clean.

Variedad Colombia

Variedad Colombia (sometimes just Colombia) is a hybrid of Caturra, created in Colombia. The strain is very productive and great at surviving leaf diseases. These have made Variedad Colombia a popular coffee variety. The flavor includes notes like classic caramel and chocolate.

Yellow Bourbon

Yellow Bourbon, Red Bourbon and Pink Bourbon are all natural mutations of Bourbon. Their productivity is quite low, but the flavor makes up for the size of the yield.

Pay attention to the variety while choosing coffees

All the coffees Slurp sells always have as precise origin information as possible. In the descriptions of the coffee we have listed the processing and other available information on top of the variety of the coffee.

Check out the Slurp coffee selection

Pictures: coffee berries CC Jonathan Wilkin & coffee variety tree Cafe Imports.

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