Varieties of Arabica

Arabica, robusta and other types of coffee

Let's start with the most well-known classification of coffee trees, i.e. by species. There are over 120 different species , but the most cultivated are mainly arabica and robusta coffee, or Coffea Arabica and Coffea Canephora, then there is Coffea Liberica and also Coffea Stenophylla and not to forget Coffea Eugenioides.

Eugenioides may be a difficult to pronounce (and write) species of coffee plant, but it has a lot of potential for making delicious coffee, hence its inclusion in the common coffee dictionary. After all, at this year's World Barista Championships, it was with Eugenioidesbeans thatCzech barista Tomáš Taussigreached the final of the Brewers Cup and came 6th overall. Check out how he did at the competition!

Variety and cultivar labels in coffee growing

It is common for a barista to describe a coffee to you as follows, for example: "I have prepared a natural arabica from the Caturra variety from Colombia". From this short sentence we know that the coffee has been processed in a natural way, i.e. by drying whole coffee cherries, that it comes from Colombia and that it is an arabica. And what is this variety?

The term variety usually defines a particular variety. In botanical terms, however, avariety means a natural variety of a wild plant. In the case of a cultivated plant variety, acultivar is used . And if you come across a coffee plant described as a hybrid, it is the offspring of two different species or varieties. You may also come across ahybrid, a coffee plant created by deliberately crossing similar species.

The best known varieties of arabica coffee

However, it is common to use the term variety to mean variety in general. And why is it good to know the basic characteristics of each variety? Of course, not only for the sake of conversations with baristas and coffee enthusiasts, but mainly for your own overview of coffee and better information when choosing the best coffee. Since the choice coffees you drink are most likely Arabica, I will now introduce you to its varieties.

About Typica coffee

Arabica coffee of the Typicavariety is the most famous and genetically important variety of the coffee plant. If you think of arabica coffee trees as a single family, Typica will be the progenitor of other cultivars in its family tree. It is the first coffee tree to leave its homeland in Ethiopia.

It was transported to Yemen in the 15th century. Then it travelled through India to Indonesia and from there it found its way to the Botanical Gardens in Amsterdam. From there, via French Guiana to Brazil. A seedling of the Typica coffee tree from Amstrdam was also given to the King of France and his sailors then brought the coffee to Martinique. From there, sailors from England took it to Jamaica and Cuba. Then coffee was grown in Costa Rica and El Salvador.

Typica coffee trees are tall in stature with high potential for a quality cup of coffee. The ends of the leaves are bronze and the fruits are large. Unfortunately, this variety is very susceptible to disease, coffee rust and pest infestation. It also has a lower yield, which is why you see Typica, not Typica cultivars, on your roasted coffee packages.

Timeline of arabica coffee varieties. Image source: World Coffee Atlas

Typica coffee cultivars

Coffee varieties that are based on the Typica coffee genes. Through breeding, their characteristics have been further altered to minimize the deficiencies of the original variety. The Typica cultivars bred include, but are not limited to, the most expensive or largest coffee beans in the world.


This cultivar is special because it does not fall completely under Typica. In fact, it was only through further investigation of Java's genetic fingerprint markers that it was discovered to be mistakenly identified as a "child" of the Typica coffee plant. It is the Ethiopian Abysinia coffee, which by natural mutation changed into the Java variety.

Java coffee is more resistant than Typica in terms of leaf rust and disease. However, it shows the best potential for high quality coffee when grown at high altitudes and in volcanic soil. It has travelled from Java to Cameroon, then Costa Rica, and then demonstrated its strength in the ideal mountain environment of Panama.

To make things even more interesting, in Nicaragua the Mierisch farming family grows theJavaNica variety. The origin of JavaNica is also shrouded in a few unknowns, but it is believed that these coffee trees are descendants of theJava cultivar . The elongated beans of the coffee plant, whose coffee boasts acomplex floral flavour profile, refer at least to its relative Typica .


Have you heard anyone talk about "elephant beans" coffee? Surely this conversation would be on the topic ofMaragogypecoffee . The "elephant" designation refers to the size of these beans. Maragogype is a natural mutation of the Typica coffee plant. It is characterised by seeds that are at least twice the size of the average coffeebean.

However, the Maragogype coffee tree has lower yields. It is also quite susceptible to diseases and pests. It can grow at lower altitudes, but above 1 500 m above sea level, it grows slowly to produce a coffee with a stronger and pleasantly complex flavour. Its name refers to the town of Maragogipe in Brazil. Apart from Brazil, such coffee can be seen in Guatemala and Mexico.


Theunpleasant leaf rust, which is one of the disadvantages of the Typica variety, was first reduced in1911 by the then super coffee grower in India. It is named Kent after its discoverer . Another unique feature is that, in contrast to Typica, which was exported from Africa, the Kent variety was imported from India to Kenya. Unfortunately, the more potent rust viruses of recent years are no longer able to resist Kent. It is therefore no longer entirely suitable for commercial coffee growing.

Blue Mountain

You must have noticed something about coffee from Blue Mountains in Jamaica, as it is one of themost famous and expensive coffees in the world. This famous descendant of the Typica coffee plant was just found in Blue Mountain and as a mutation of the imported Typica.

This variety thrives in specific locations where it is able to grow into a tall tree resistant to coffee tree diseases. However, it has a problem with acclimatization, so you can find this coffee in Jamaica, or it grows under the name "Guatemala" in Hawaii andhas also managed to establish itself in Papua New Guinea

The fruit of the Arabica coffee tree of the Typica variety. Image source: Canva pro

Other Typica cultivars:

  • Kona
  • Sumatra
  • Criollo
  • Arabigo
  • Pluma Hidalgo
  • Bergundal AKA Garundang
  • San Bernardo alias Pache
  • San Ramon
  • Chickumalgur
  • Blawan Paumah
  • Sidikalang
  • K7
  • K20
  • BMJ
  • Guatemala
  • Pache Comum
  • Pache colis
  • Villalobos
  • Amarello de Botucatu

Bourbon coffee variety

In addition to the previous Typica coffee, Bourbonis another well-known variety. It takes its name from the island of Bourbon (now called Réunion), where it was grown from the early 18th century to the mid-19th century. It then spread to Brazil and other countries in South and Central America.

Bourbon coffee has medium-sized beans with a high potential for excellent flavour. But like Typica, it has problems withlow disease resistance. Although Bourbon yields about 20% more than Typica, it still has lower productivity compared to other coffee varieties.

Bourbon coffee cultivars

Bourbon's pronounced sweetness and higher productivity than Typica makes it a good parent for other cultivars. Choose one of the varieties described below and try its qualities for yourself.

SL28 and SL34

The search for the best coffee beans was taken on by Scott Laboratoriesin the mid-20th century. They selected 42 trees and studied their characteristics. They focused mainly on coffee quality, productivity and, of course, how hardy the coffee trees are. The most successful coffee trees were those named SL28 and SL34 (SL for Scott Lab).

The former, SL28 is a coffee tree now widespread in Kenya and Zimbabwe. It has become famous for its exceptional quality of flavour in thecup. It has fruity notes often reminiscent of citrus or currants with a balanced sweetness. In terms of cultivation, it is a drought tolerant coffee plant.

Another successful coffee plant, SL34 is a mutation of French Mission (a Bourbon descendant), although there is now speculation that it is more likely to have originated from the Typica coffee plant. SL34 should be a productive coffee plant that is tolerant of different climatic conditions and produces a coffee with a complex sweetness.


Among the natural mutations of Bourbon coffee trees in Brazil is the Pacas cultivar. It takes its name from its discoverer, Fernando Alberto Pacas Figueroa. He came across the coffee plant on his farm on the volcanic soil of the Ilamatepec or Santa Ana volcano in El Salvador. Pacas is small in stature and has a good yield. Its quality potential for a tasty cup of coffee is also considered good . In terms of disease and insect resistance , it is asensitive variety of coffee tree.


It is a natural mutation of the Red Bourbon variety. The first mention of the Caturra coffee plant dates back to 1937, when it was found in Brazil in the area bordering theMinas Gerais and Espírito Santoregions . This mutation is the basis of the Red Caturra and Yellow Caturra cultivars. Itsadvantages are its small stature, allowing for easier harvesting and denser planting promoting higher farm yields. It is typically bright in acidity and softer in body.


Mocha or Moka is a coffee named after the port of Mocha (Moka) in Yemen. The coffee tree is small in stature and has round cherries and seeds. Its productivity is low, but it is one of theoldest coffee varieties.


Batian is a fairly new variety released in 2010 by the Coffee Research Foundation (now the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization - KALRO). The advantage of Batian lies mainly in its ability to resist both disease and rust andgrowers will appreciate that it producesits first fruits in its second year (usually between 3 and 5 years for arabica coffee trees).

The Batian variety is the result of a backcross between two popular and high quality coffee varieties from Kenya. Its origins are linked to the SL28 and SL34 varieties. Therefore, Batian coffee is expected to soon spread and gain popularity among farmers throughout Kenya.

Mature fruits of the Yellow Bourbon coffee tree- Image Source: Canva for

Other Bourbon cultivars:

    • French mission
    • Yellow Bourbon
    • Red Bourbon
    • Orange bourbon
    • Pink bourbon
    • Mibirizi
    • Mayaguez
    • Bourbon Chocolá
    • Semperflorens
    • Arusha
    • Ibairi
    • Cera
    • Jackson
    • Jackson 2/1257

Cross between Typica and Bourbon

Bred coffees that are descended from the famous Typica and Bourbon parents. In our offer they are represented by the popular Brazil: Ponto Alegre, which is an absolute bestseller.

Mundo Novo

Native to Brazil, it is a strong and tall plant, resistant to disease and strong winds. The Mundo Novo variety was discovered in 1943 in the Sao Paulo region. It was created bycross-pollinating the Bourbon variety with the Typica coffee plant and is now the most common Brazilian coffee plant (about 40% of all varieties grown).

It is also widespread in other South American countries. Inaddition to its hardiness, it also has the advantage of a high yield of around 30% higher than Bourbon. It also has good quality and taste potential. It has lower acidity and full body. However, its fruit takes its time and ripens later.


Agiant coffee of the Maragogypevariety along with the small Pacas coffee plant. These genes have been adopted by Pacamara. A popular coffee plant in El Salvador, where it ranks very well in the prestigious Cup of Excellence competition thanks to its exceptional quality and flavour.

It is asmall coffee tree, but takes after its parent Maragogype with large fruits and beans. It is ahybrid created in the late 1950s by the Instituto Salvadoreño de Investigaciones del Café (ISIC) in El Salvador. Pacamara coffee has sweet notes ranging from fruit to chocolate.


In 1949, the Instituto Agronômico de Campinas (IAC) in Brazil bred a high-yielding and vigorous plant. Ahybrid of Mundo Novo and Yellow Caturra. The Catuai coffee plant is smaller in stature with a good yield and high quality coffee with a distinct sweetness in the cup.

Itis grown in red and yellow fruitvariants. The yellow ones are thought to have a higher chance of rain damage, hence some lean towards Red Catuai. The Catuai cultivar is an essential coffee plant in Brazilian coffee production.


A rare variety originating from Mundo Novo (a direct cross of Bourbon x Typica), which appears with excellent ratings in the Brazilian Cup of Excellencecompetition. It is in Brazil that the Acaia cultivar does best. It is susceptible to diseases and pests of the coffee plant. On the other hand, it has a high productivity of large fruits.


Again a Brazilian hybrid. This time it is theoffspring of the giant Maragogype and Caturra. It was probably created by a natural mutation known since the end of the 19th century. Thelarge leaves and fruit are typical . Maracaturra coffee tends to be strong with fruity acidity. These coffee trees grow mainly in Brazil, but also in Nicaragua and El Salvador.

Timor Hybrid

Also known as Hybrido de Timor with the abbreviation HdT or as Tim Tim. It is a natural hybrid combining unexpectedly arabica with robusta, or arabica with canephora.

TheTimor Hybrid has taken on the leaf rust resistance abilities of the robusta and is an essential variety for the further breeding of hardy coffee plants. Interestingly, arabica is thought to have originated as a descendant of eugenioides and canephora. In this view, Tim Tim would thus be the result of abackcrossing that nature has been working on for 100,000 years!


Thename is derived from the parent plants, Caturra and Timor Hybrid. Its optimum habitat is between 700 and 1000 m above sea level, it does not thrive in higher or lower areas. Catimor is a hardy and productive coffee plant of small stature. It can therefore be planted more densely and its fruit ripens quickly. The leaves are typically reddish-brown at emergence.

It needs to be carefully monitored and fertilised by the farmer as it grows, which makes it somewhat difficult to grow. A good yield of Catimor coffee is only a few years (short life span). The main disadvantage of Catimor is just lower quality coffee if the coffee trees are planted in the wrong place or high up in the mountains. The usual countries growing Catimor are Indonesia and Vietnam and also Mexico or Peru.


Also in Colombia a hybrid of Caturra and Hybrido de Timorhas been bred. Research between 1968 and 1982 conducted by the Centre for Coffee Research - Cenicafe led to a successful result, the Colombia cultivar.

Little did they know then that this coffee plant would save the Colombian coffee industry after the devastating wave of coffee leaf rust in 1983. In further breeding, Colombia became thebasis for the Tabi and Castillo cultivars. Colombia coffee trees are smaller in stature andcan have red or yellow fruit.


Similarly, in Brazil, coffee scientists have bred the Timor Hybrid coffee cultivar to a new hardy coffee plant, Icatú. It is resistant to disease and boasts good yields. It was officially launched in 1993 and has since spread throughoutBrazil.

To improve the quality of the coffee in the cup, further work has been done to breed Icatú. Mainly by backcrossing with arabica coffee cultivars. Today, there are many subspecies of this coffee plant.

Ruiru 11

TheRuiru 11cultivar was developed in the 1970s in Kenya. Interestingly , itsparents were themselves complex hybrids of several varieties such as SL28, SL34, Sudan Rume, Bourbon and the Catimor series. Ruiru 11 is therefore a coffee tree continuing the Catimor line with intricately blended genes of selected hybrids.

The result is a compact-looking coffee plant with high yields and coffee quality. It is dominated by higher acidity and body. It is resistant to coffee cherry disease and leaf rust. Its breeding requires manual pollination between designated hybrids, which is primarily a time-consuming solution.


From the Colombian researcher Jamie Castillo the name of this cultivar was derived. Castillo is an improved continuation of the Colombia line. It was released in 2005 and holds the position of themost cultivated coffee plant in Colombia.

Several other cultivars derived from Castillo coffee have been developed for the unique growing conditions in specific regions of Colombia: Castillo Naranjal, La Trinidad, El Rosario, Pueblo Bello, Santa Barbara, EL Tambo and Paraquaicito. All of these coffee plants stand out for theirhigher yields and resistance.

Harvesting ripe cherries from the Catimor coffee tree. Image source: Canva pro

Other Timor cultivars:

  • Oro Azteca
  • Sarchimor
  • IHCAFE 90
  • Anacafe 14
  • Tupi
  • Obata
  • Catrenic
  • Paraiso
  • Rasuna
  • Catucai
  • Lempira
  • Maracatu
  • Catiga MG2
  • Ateng
  • Parainema
  • Arla
  • ICAFE 95
  • IHCAFE 90
  • IAPAR 59
  • IPAR 103
  • Tabi
  • Costa Rica 95 AKA CR-95
  • Marseille
  • Catigua
  • Bogor Prada

Original coffee varieties from Ethiopia

Ethiopia is the cradle of coffee and especially the Arabica coffee plant. This is related to the fact that Ethiopia grows not only many bred cultivars but countless varieties of wild coffee trees. For our summary, I thus offer only a narrower view of the most interesting coffees from the lineage of indigenous coffee trees and a general description of traditional Ethiopian coffees such as the flat variety Heirloom.


Thequeen of coffee trees - Gesha. Descended from the wild Ethiopian coffee and named after the town of Gesha in western Ethiopia. It was imported from its African homeland to Costa Rica in 1953 and from there to the Boquete region of Panama and thePeterson family's Hacienda La Esmeralda farm , where it became known for itssuperior flavor quality in the cup.

It was almost forgotten in Panama because of its low yield. Gesha is also considered to be a volatile cultivar. For best results , it needs the right combination of many factors affecting its cultivation. However, in good conditions itimpresses with its flavour, which is delicate yet distinctly floral. This sets an imaginary quality bar so high thatother coffee varieties can hardly reach it .


Coffee Heritage or the name oftraditional Ethiopian varieties. Heirloom is usually used as a blanket term for African coffees from Ethiopia. There are pros and cons to such a generic name.

On the one hand, it simplifies the description of coffee varieties from Ethiopia, which are so-called indigenous varieties. These wild coffee trees are often not documented. On the other hand, includes under one namethose cultivars that have already been described. Such research on Ethiopian coffee varieties has been carried out byGetu Bekele and Timothy Hill.