When it comes to picking a bottle of wine to serve at a dinner party most people know a Merlot from a Pinot Grigio. However, in the coffee world this isn’t usually as easily understood. But when you delve into the world of coffee you find that a wide range of different varieties exist.
The two main coffee varieties are Arabica and Robusta, however these are then further divided into multiple varieties. It is widely accepted that Arabica coffee is of a higher standard that Robusta coffee and for the purpose of this blog we will focus on these varieties.
If you are a coffee lover you might be wondering why you need to add another set of words to your ever expanding coffee vocabulary. Is the variety really that important, compared to the country of origin, roast level, and processing method? And if it is important, why do only some coffee bags tell you about it?
Thesimple answer is that coffee varieties can affect the flavour of the coffee. There are dozens of widely cultivated Arabica coffee varieties around the world. Some varieties have explicit taste characteristics of their own, while others take on their characteristics from the land in which they are grown, the way they are grown and in the way they are processed after harvest.
The descriptions of the coffee varieties below are only a snapshot of the list of varieties which exist. However the 5 listed are some of Cubist Coffee’s favourites.
This is considered the original variety, the forefather of coffees. It has spread around the world for commercial production and adapted to local climates. The fruit is usually red and is capable of producing an excellent cup. Typicas typically have a small yield compared to other varieties but the quality is extremely high and usually creates a sweet and clean flavour.
Bourbon was a natural mutation of Typica however it usually has a higher yield than that of Typica. Bourbon is known for its distinctively sweet and delicate flavour.
The plants are fragile and don’t produce as much fruit as some other varieties, but they’re worth the effort. Bourbon coffee is a classic!
Caturra is a natural mutation of Bourbon. This semi-dwarf tree was first developed in Brazil in the 1930s and is now found in Colombia, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Quality wise it is a close match to Bourbon. Typical characteristics associated with this varietal are bright acidity and medium body.
Geisha (also known as Gesha) is a high-quality variety usually found in Panama. It is originally from the Ethiopian village of Gesha. Nowadays the Geisha from Panama is considered one of the industries most famous coffees and has an extremely high price. The price reflects the quality with 250g fetching as much as £100. Geisha coffee has a distinctive flavour profile almost tea-like in nature, creating aromatic and floral cups.
SL-28 was created in Kenya in the 1930s by Scott Laboratories in the search for different mutations of Bourbon and Typica. The fruits are red when ripe and the beans are larger than average. It has a relatively low yield, however the cup qualities are highly sought after. This variety is capable of producing a cup with a sweet, multidimensional flavour profile. Characteristics can include intense lemon acidity, great sweetness, balance and complexity.
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