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Varietal has often been used informally — and sometimes formally — in the coffee community, usually interchangeably with “variety,” but the two don’t really mean the same thing. Variety is a botanical term, and a noun. Varietal was born as an adjective meaning “having the characteristics of a variety.”

Both variety and cultivar are a taxonomic rank below species, but a variety occurs naturally, and clones itself readily from seed. Typica and Bourbon are examples of varieties. Conversely, a cultivar must be propagated by human intervention. Catimor and Castillo are examples of cultivars.

A wild variety, like those found in coffee forests across Ethiopia, can be referred to as a landrace, a term that indicates a few important distinctions. Landraces are generally considered domesticated, but locally adapted, and distinct from any formal breeding or selection.

The term heirloom has often been applied to Ethiopian forest coffees, and more broadly to global varieties like Typica and Bourbon. Bourbon, Typica, Caturra, and Mokha could all be considered a type of heirloom variety.


Acauã: A hybrid of Mundo Novo (Bourbon & Sumatra Typica) and Sarchimor (Villa Sarchi & Hibrido de Timor).

Acaiá: A rare Mundo Novo mutation found mainly in Brazil.

Anacafe 14: A spontanously generated Catimor-Pacamara hybrid that was further developed and released by Anacafe in 2014. The variety is said to be rust resistant and productive of good cup quality at evelvations above 1300m.

Andong Sari: Variety developed from a popular Catimor that was brought from Colombia to Indonesia and has been hybridized with Caturra and Hibrido de Timor (HDT).

Arusha: A subvariety of Typica/Bourbon of uncertain origins found most commonly in Tanzania and Papua New Guinea.

Ateng: A common name for Catimor coffees widely planted in Sumatra and other Indonesia isles.

Batian: Released in late 2010, this disease resistant strain is named after the highest peak on Mt. Kenya. A composite variety containing parentage from SL28, SL34, Rume Sudan, N39, K7, SL4 and Hibrido de Timor. Very good cup quality at high altitude.

Blue Mountain: A Typica mutation originally found and cultivated in Jamaica’s Blue Mountains. 

Bourbon/Borbón: One of the most culturally and genetically important C. arabica varieties in the world, well known for excellent quality in the cup at the highest altitude. A flavour and aroma reminiscent of blackberries or blueberries. Some of the best coffees of East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula have these characteristics.

Bourboncillo/ Bourboncito: Dwarf bourbon grown widely in Guatemala and other Central American countries.

Bourbon Mayaguez 139: Bourbon genetic background, a vigorous, productive variety with very good cup quality at high altitude. Commonly found in Rwanda and Burundi.

Casiopea: High yield F1 hybrid variety of Caturra x Ethiopian wild accession "ET41". Large bean size. Exceptional cup quality at elevations above 1300m.

Castillo: An improvement of the Colombia variety developed by Colombia’s National Center for Coffee Investigation (Cenicafe) and currently the most planted variety in Colombia.

CatiguaA cross between Catuai and Hibrido de Timor developed in 1980s by The Agricultural Research Company of Minas Gerais ("EPAMIG").

CatimorA hybrid of the Timor Hybrid (resistant to coffee leaf rust due to its Robusta genetic roots) and Caturra developed in Portugal in 1959 and introduced to Brazil in the 1970s. Good cup quality at high altitude.

Catuaí:  A hybrid of Mundo Novo and Yellow Caturra developed by the Campinas Agronomic Institute (ICA) in Brazil  in 1949. Good cup quality at high altitude.

Catucaí: A hybrid of Icatú and Catuaí that exists in both red and yellow form.

Catucai-açu: A strain of Catucaí (sometimes appears as Catucaiaçu or Catucaí Açu) registered by Brazil's Programa de Apoio Tecnológico à Cafeicultura (Procafe) in 2000.

CaturraA natural mutation of Bourbon that has been responsible for profound changes and improvement in the coffee industry worldwide.

Centroamericano: A hybrid of T5296 (Sarchimor) x Rume Sudan. Very high yielding, well adapted to agroforesty and very good cup quality at high altitude.

Colombia: The result of successful hybridization of Caturra with the Timor Hybrid developed over five generations by Cenicafe between 1968 and 1982.

Costa Rica 95: A cross between Timor Hybrid 832/1 and Caturra. Pedigree selection (selection of individual plants through successive generations) made by the Instituto del Café de Costa Rica (ICAFE). Cup quality low.

Criollo/Criolla: A natural mutation of Typica common in Peru, Bolivia and Colombia.

Cuscatleco: A selection of T5296 (Sarchimor) well adapted to medium altitude. Good cup quality at high altitude.

Erecta: Could refer to Erecta or Caturra Erecta. Please click for more information.

Evaluna: A high yielding dwarf variety with very good cup quality at high altitudes. Cross of Naryelis(Catimor) x Ethiopian Landrace accession "ET06" (CATIE collection)

Garnica: A cross of Mundo Novo and Caturra developed by the Mexican Institute of Coffee (INMECAFE) in 1960. Found primarily in Veracruz and Chiapas, Mexico.

Geisha/Gesha: A once-rare variety that was ‘rediscovered’ in Panama in 2004. Widely considered one of the most complex, intensely flavored and desirable profiles of all the coffee varietals. Ethiopian Landrace genetics. Exceptional cup quality at high altitude.

H3: High yielding dwarf variety with very good quality at high altitude. Caturra x Ethiopian Landrace accession "E531" (CATIE collection)

Harrar Rwanda: A high yielding Typica related variety with very good cup quality at high altitude.

HDT (Hibrido de Timor) / Tim Tim: A natural hybridization between Arabica and Robusta on the island of Timor. Considered a new species of coffee. The original plant (verified in 2012) still grows high in the mountains in Fatubessi. It is extensively used as a gene source in different breeding projects with the purpose of breeding in a higher resistance towards leaf rust and other diseases. Arabica and robusta’s union is a singularly unusual feat, due to the fact that the tetraploid (four sets of chromosomes) arabica in theory shouldn’t be genetically compatible with its diploid (two sets) ancestor — robusta is acknowledged as one of arabica’s parents, the other is C. eugenioides. So in a sense, you could consider this hybrid a kind of backcross, 100,000 years in the making.

Iapar 59: A selection of Sarchimor resistant to coffee leaf rust and nematodes. Low cup quality.

ICAFE 90: Rust resistant variety developed by Costa Rica Coffee Institute (ICAFE). Cup quality very low.

Icatú: A variety first developed in Brazil by the Instituto Agronômico de Campinas (IAC)  and known for its high productivity and good disease resistance.

IHCAFE 90: (also known as IH-90) A Caturra/Sarchimor cross developed by the Honduran Coffee Institute (IHCAFE) during the 1990s.

Jackson 2: Bourbon related variety, very vigorous and productive. Good cup quality at high altitude. Commonly found in Rwanda and Burundi.

Jantung: A Typica strain originating from the Aceh region of Sumatra. 

Java: A variety receiving its name from the island of Java in Indonesia. Ethiopian Landrace genetics. Very good cup quality at high altitude. High quality in Central America.

K7: Bourbon related variety selected from French Mission. Tolerant to coffee leaf rust and coffee berry disease. Found primarily in Kenya and Tanzania. Good cup quality at high altitude.

Kent: Thought to be a natural mutation of Typica discovered in India, this variety is widely found in Kenya today.

Lempira: Considered to be a sub-variety of Catimor that is found mainly in Honduras. Cup quality potential is low.

Limani: A selection of Sarchimor resistant to coffee leaf rust. Good quality at high altitude.

LongberryVariety, primarily emerging from Indonesia, named due to its appearance, which is long and thin in comparison with other coffee varietals.

Maracaturra: A Brazilian hybrid of Maragogype and Caturra.

Maragogype: A natural mutation of Typica first discovered in the town of Maragogipe, Bahia, Brazil. Low yielding, very large beans. Very good cup quality at high altitude.

Marsellesa:  Variety obtained from the hybridization of Sarchimor and Caturra. Good cup quality at high altitude.

Mibirizi: Likely typica genetic background. Exceptional cup quality at high altitudes. Important variety for smallholder growers in Rwanda and Burundi.

Milenio: A very high yielding F1 hybrid variety of T5296 x Rume Sudan. Very good cup quality at high altitude.

Mocha/Mokha/Moka: Can refer to a variety originating from Yemen or a mutation of Typica that is commonly grown in Brazil and Hawaii. Click link for more info.

Mundo Maya: A high yielding F1 hybrid variety of T5296 x Wild Ethiopian accession "ET01" well adapted to agroforesty conditions. Very good cup quality at high altitude.

Mundo Novo: A natural hybrid of Typica sub-varieties, Sumatra and Bourbon. Very good cup quality at high altitude.

Nayarita: High yielding F1 hybrid of Naryelis x Wild Ethiopian accession "ET26". Very good cup quality at high altitude.

Nyasaland: Typica related variety preferred by smallholder farmers in Uganda. Good cup quality at high altitude.

Obata: A cross between Timor Hybrid 832/2 and Villa Sarchi CIFC 971/10. Pedigree selection made by the Instituto Agronomico (IAC) of Sao Paulo State in Campinas, Brazil. Released in Brazil in 2000, and brought to Costa Rica for commercial release in 2014 by the Costa Rican Coffee Institute (ICAFE). Very good cup quality at high altitude.

Oro Azteca: The first resistant coffee variety developed and registered in Mexico. The variety is from Catimor (Timor Hybrid) root stock bred with Red Caturra. Good cup quality at high altitude.

Pacamara: A hybrid created  in El Salvador by the Institute for Coffee Research (ISIC) by crossing the Pacas variety (an El Salvadoran mutation of Bourbon) with Maragogype.

Pacas: The result of a natural and spontaneous mutation of Bourbon and discovered in El Salvador, where it is most commonly found today. Good cup quality at high altitude.

Pache: A natural mutation of Typica, originally discovered in Guatemala. Best adapted to elevations above 1200m. Large bean size, good cup quality at high altitude.

Parainema: A selection of T5296 (Sarchimor) resistant to coffee leaf rust and some nematodes, Good cup quality at high altitude.

Pluma Hidalgo: A “Typica” progeny first cultivated in Mexico and introduced to the area known as “Pluma” (within the Loxicha region of Southern Oaxaca).

Pop3303/21: A selection of Blue Mountain Jamaica in Rwanda. Good cup quality at high altitude.

Rab C15: A selection of Indian variety Sln.6 (Kent x C. robusta) High yielding, tall variety resistant to rust and coffee berry disease recently released in Rwanda. Very good cup quality at high altitude.

Rasuna: A Sumatran hybrid of Catimor and Typica, which appears to be grown only in Indonesia.

Rubi: A hybrid of Mundo Novo and Catuaí engineered at the Agronomic Institute of Campinas (IAC) during the 1960s.

Ruiru 11: A disease resistant variety grown widely in Kenya. A composite variety made up of many varieties. (Catimor x multicross selection of K7, SL28, N39, Rume Sudan and others). Good cup quality at high altitude.

S795: Commonly known as “Jember” by Indonesians, the variety is thought to be the cross of S288 (a natural hybrid of Liberica and Arabica) and an old Kent variety.

San Francisco: A Bourbon and Pacas hybrid hailing from El Salvador. Also known as Hibrido de San Francisco.

Sarchimor: A hybrid of the Costa Rican Villa Sarchi and Timor Hybrid grown widely throughout India and Costa Rica.

SL - varieties: Including SL-28 and SL34, these varieties were developed by Scott Laboratories - a research organization based in Kenya that developed multiple cultivars under contract between 1934 and 1963. SL28 Bourbon related. Exceptional cup quality at high altitude. SL34 Typica related. Exceptional cup quality at high altitude.

Starmaya: High yielding F1 hybrid of Marsallesa x Wild Ethiopian/Sudanese natural mutantation. The first F1 hybrid propagated by seed. Variety not uniform. Large bean size, Very good cup quality at high altitude, notably high acidity in the cup.

T5175: High yield Catimor variety, not uniform, very low cup quality.

T5296: Variety Sarchimor (Timor hybrid CIFC 832/2 x Villa Sarchi), not uniform. Good cup quality at high altitude.

TabiA variety obtained by crossing Typica, Bourbon and Timor Hybrid, developed by Colombia’s Coffee Research Institute (CENICAFE).

Tekisic:  A selection of Bourbon variety in El Salvador known for excellent cup quality at the highest altitude.

Topázio: Variety  obtained from the cross of Mundo Novo and Red Catuaí and then backcrossed again with Catuaí. Developed at the Agronomic Institute of Campinas (IAC) in Brazil.

Toraja Toraja: A natural Typica mutation named after a region in Sulawesi known for growing a coffee called Tana Toraja (or ‘Land of Toraja’).

Typica:  Variety that forms the genetic backbone of much of specialty coffee today. The first coffee plantations grown in America and Asia were of the Typica variety and many of the most widely cultivated C. arabica crops today are descended directly from the plant.

Venecia: A natural mutation of Bourbon. Good cup quality at high altitude. It was selected out as it demonstrated increased productivity, larger fruit size and increased resistance to fruit drop in the rain.

Villa Sarchi: A natural mutation of Bourbon varieties originally bred in Costa Rica in a village called Sarchi. Well adapted to the highest altitude conditions. Good cup quality at high altitude. Bean size is below average.

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