Varietals

You might be wondering what the importance is of coffee varietals. Is the variety really that important, compared to the country of origin, roast level, and processing method? The simple answer is yes, just like origin, roast level etc. coffee varieties also contribute to the  flavour of the final cup.  Some, like Bourbon, are known for their sweet taste. Others, like Gesha/Geisha, are known for tea-like qualities. Below is a selection of varietals that we have roasted and a little bit of information on each one:

BOURBON

Is a natural mutation of Typica that occurred on the island of Reunion, formally known as Bourbon. They are generally fragile plants that have sweet, complex and delicate flavours. Although not very high yielding, they produce a very prized and desirable cup. It was grown in many coffee producing countries but recently have been replaced by higher-yielding varieties.

CATIMOR

A robusta influenced variety from the Timor family, Catimor is generally associated with low acidity and high bitterness. It is predominately and commodity variety due to its high yield and resistant to coffee leaf rust and other coffee diseases. Catimor is the main varietal being used in the growing Chinese speciality market as they wait for other varieties that have been recently planted to mature. We have roasted a couple of coffees from Yunnan in China and although not at the level of some of the higher quality varieties they still produced some great tasting coffee.

CATUAI

A high yielding variety and the standard of quality in Central America. It's a hybrid of Caturra and Mundo Novo that was created in Brazil in the 1950s and '60s. Producing both red and yellow cherries it is characterised by big and bold acidity. Very susceptible to leaf rust.

CATURRA

Like Catuai it produces this plant produces both red and yellow cherries that are easily picked by hand. It is a very high yielding variety and sometimes the trees produce more cherries than they can sustain, however, it is still very susceptible to leaf rust and higher altitude will decrease yields. Found throughout Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Nicaragua it has a very good cup quality that improves with altitude, with bright acidity and low to medium body but has less clarity and sweetness than it's parent, Bourbon.

HEIRLOOM

A very mysterious varietal as little work has been done so far to catalogue or explore their genetic diversity. They are wildflower varieties descended from natural coffee forests of southwestern Ethiopia. Each village has its own variety shaped by the soil, elevation and weather in each area. One of our favourite varietals to roast, producing some fantastic coffees from both natural and washed processing methods.

COLOMBIA

As the name suggests, it was introduced to Colombia in the early 1800s. It's very high yielding and resists disease well and so it's very popular on smaller farms where the farmers need to get the most out of their small plots of land and cannot afford to lose plants and money. Colombia is associated with the classic coffee flavours of caramel and chocolate with hints of cherry in this full-bodied bean.

GEISHA

Geisha is very demanding and only grows when, where and how it wants to in tiny microclimates. The variety was brought to Panama from Costa Rica but it's believed to be Ethiopian in origin. Geishas produce exceptionally aromatic and floral cups with demand driving prices up in recent years. In the cup, the Esmeralda Geisha displays a good sweetness, clarity and sparkling flavour that may range from berry, citrus, mango, papaya, peach, pineapple, guava, and jasmine.

PACAMARA

A cross between Pacas and Magrotype varietals, it was created in El Salvador in 1958. Pacamara provides an outstanding flavour profile of sweet citrus notes and hints of floral aromas that provide a wonderful balance to the cup. When sourced from the highest elevations these coffees are of exceptional quality. They are very highly susceptible to coffee leaf rust and plants are not stable from one generation to the next.

SL28

A robusta influenced variety from the Timor family, Catimor is generally associated with low acidity and high bitterness. It is predominately and commodity variety due to its high yield and resistant to coffee leaf rust and other coffee diseases. Catimor is the main varietal being used in the growing Chinese speciality market as they wait for other varieties that have been recently planted to mature. We have roasted a couple of coffees from Yunnan in China and although not at the level of some of the higher quality varieties they still produced some great tasting coffee.

SL34

Also from Scott Laboratories, SL34 flourishes in medium to high altitudes. The flavour profile is a complex citrus acidity, heavy mouthfeel with a clean sweet finish. It's is considered inferior to SL28 in cup quality but produces some exceptional coffees. Like SL28 it is also very susceptible to leaf rust.

TYPICA

One of the most culturally and genetically important arabica coffees in the world, with high quality in Central America. It's well adapted to the coldest conditions but still susceptible to coffee leaf rust and produces a relatively small yield. The cup quality is generally excellent with outstanding sweetness, cleanliness and body. Typica is considered the original variety which all other varieties have mutated from. The Dutch were the first to spread coffee around the world for commercial production and Typica was the varietal they used.

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