May 22


Explore The Different Varieties Of Arabica Coffee Bean Cultivars

By Hanson Cheng

May 22, 2023

Arabica coffee is one of the most popular coffee varieties in the world, accounting for more than 60% of global coffee production. It is known for its delicate flavor and aroma, as well as its lower caffeine content compared to other coffee types. However, what some people might not be aware of is that there are numerous Arabica cultivars, each with its distinct flavor profile and characteristics. In this article, we will explore the different varieties of Arabica cultivars and what makes them unique.

Understanding Arabica Cultivars

Arabica beans are the most popular coffee beans in the world, and Arabica cultivars refer to the different varieties of Arabica coffee plants that produce these beloved beans. These cultivars are distinguished from one another based on differences in genetic makeup, flavor profile, and growing conditions. There are many Arabica cultivars that are widely used in the coffee industry, each with its unique set of characteristics that determine the quality of the beans produced. Some of the most common Arabica cultivars include Bourbon, Typica, Caturra, and Mundo Novo.

Bourbon is a cultivar that originated in the Island of Bourbon, now known as Reunion Island in Africa. It is known for its sweet and fruity taste, with notes of chocolate and spice. Its distinctive characteristics have made it a popular choice among specialty coffee roasters worldwide. Typica is another renowned Arabica cultivar that is believed to be one of the oldest cultivated varieties.

It has a mild, clean, and bright flavor, with floral, citrus, and nutty undertones. Caturra, on the other hand, is a dwarf mutation of Bourbon that was discovered in Brazil. It has a similar profile to Bourbon but with a lighter body and acidity. Lastly, Mundo Novo is a hybrid of Typica and Bourbon that was developed in Brazil in the late 1940s. It is known for its mild and smooth flavor, with a chocolatey and nutty finish. Arabica cultivars are incredibly important to the coffee industry, as they determine the quality of the coffee produced.

Coffees made from Arabica beans are widely regarded to have a superior taste to those made from Robusta beans, making them the preferred choice of specialty coffee roasters. Arabica cultivars also play a significant role in the global coffee market, with different varieties commanding different prices based on their unique characteristics. As such, understanding the different Arabica cultivars, their flavor profiles, and growing conditions is essential for coffee growers, roasters, and baristas alike.

Arabica cultivars come in many different varieties, each with its unique genetic makeup, flavor profile, and growing conditions. These cultivars play a crucial role in determining the quality of coffee produced and are highly prized by specialty coffee roasters worldwide. A better understanding of different Arabica cultivars can help growers, roasters, and baristas to make more informed decisions and produce better-tasting coffee.

Their History

The evolution of Arabica cultivars is a complex story that spans centuries and continents. Arabica coffee originated in the highlands of Ethiopia, where it was first cultivated and consumed some 1,000 years ago. It quickly spread throughout the region, as traders and merchants introduced it to new markets across the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen, and the Red Sea. By the 16th century, coffee was being grown and traded on a commercial scale, and it had become a vital part of the global economy.

Over time, coffee growers and researchers in different parts of the world developed new cultivars of Arabica that were adapted to local growing conditions and had unique flavor profiles. These cultivars were selected based on desirable characteristics such as yield, disease resistance, cup quality, and aroma. One of the earliest cultivated varieties was Typica, which was grown in Indonesia and other parts of Southeast Asia.

This variety was later introduced to the Americas and became the basis for many of the cultivars grown in Central and South America today. Another important cultivar is Bourbon, which was first grown on the island of Bourbon (now called RĂ©union) in the Indian Ocean. Bourbon has a distinctive flavor profile that is prized by many coffee enthusiasts and is grown primarily in Central America and Africa.

Other notable Arabica cultivars include Caturra, which was developed in Brazil in the 1930s and has high yields and good cup quality; Catuai, which is a cross between Caturra and Mundo Novo and is grown primarily in Latin America; and Geisha (also known as Gesha), which was discovered in Ethiopia in the 1930s but has gained popularity in recent years for its exquisite flavor profile.

Today, there are hundreds of different Arabica cultivars grown around the world, each with its unique characteristics and flavor profile. Growers and researchers continue to work on developing new cultivars that are better adapted to changing environmental conditions and have even more desirable traits. The history of Arabica cultivars is a testament to human ingenuity and persistence, as well as the enduring appeal of coffee as a global commodity.

Importance of the cultivars

Arabica cultivars are significant in the coffee industry because of their unique traits that lead to their high demand and cultivation. Arabica coffee beans are known for their delicate and complex flavor profiles, which are distinct from other coffee varieties. This difference in flavor and aroma is due to the diversity of Arabica cultivars. Several Arabica cultivars exist, and they all have different attributes such as flavor, yield, and resistance to pests and diseases.

Knowing these characteristics is essential to coffee growers and roasters who want to ensure consistency in product quality. Arabica coffee plays a crucial role in international trade because it contributes to many countries’ economies. It is primarily grown in tropical countries that have favorable climatic conditions for coffee plantations.

Due to Arabica cultivars’ fine taste, coffee roasters and sellers worldwide value them. The coffee beans’ high quality means that they command a higher price than other coffee varieties, making them essential to the sustainability of many smallholder coffee growers worldwide.

Classification Of The Cultivars

Geographical Ones

Arabica coffee is one of the most popular coffee varieties globally, and different Arabica cultivars are known to possess unique taste and flavor profiles. The geographical distribution of Arabica coffee varies, and each geography has its indigenous cultivars. The geographical subsection of Arabica cultivars encompasses the cultivars found in Ethiopia, Yemen, and Sudan. In Ethiopia, the three primary Arabica cultivars are Typica, Heirloom, and Kurume, and each possesses a unique flavor profile and aroma.

The Yemeni geography has three prominent Arabica cultivars, including Mocha, Tuffahi, and Dawairi, which are known for their diverse and complex flavor profiles. Sudan, on the other hand, has three primary Arabica cultivars, including Bourbon, Blue Mountain, and San Ramon. Each cultivar has a unique flavor and aroma profile that makes it a favorite among coffee connoisseurs worldwide.

Genetic Ones

The genetic subsection of Arabica cultivars is a critical aspect of understanding the diversity of this species. Typica, the original Arabica cultivar, is the parent of Bourbon, a mutation found in Reunion Island. Bourbon, in turn, gave rise to Caturra, a smaller plant that has a higher yield of beans due to its compact size.

Catuai, a cross between Caturra and Mundo Novo, was introduced in Brazil in the mid-20th century. The genetic variability expressed in these cultivars allows for a range of flavors and aromas to be produced, and this diversity continues to expand as new cultivars are developed. It is essential to preserve these genetic resources to maintain the quality and diversity of the coffee industry.

Characteristics Of Cultivars

Flavor Profile

One of the most critical aspects of Arabica coffee is its flavor profile. Arabica cultivars are known for their unique and complex tastes and aromas, which are determined by several factors such as the growing conditions, processing methods, and genetics. Arabica coffee generally has a sweeter, less bitter taste than Robusta coffee, with distinct fruit and floral notes. The specific flavor profile of each cultivar is influenced by various elements such as soil type, altitude, temperature, rainfall, and sun exposure.

For instance, high-altitude coffee tends to have a more nuanced flavor profile due to the slower maturation of the beans. Arabica cultivars grown in volcanic soil may acquire mineral flavors, while those grown in organic soil may have more earthy notes. The processing methods used to transform the raw coffee cherries into roasted coffee also play a significant role in determining the flavor profile. Wet processing, for instance, generally results in coffee with a cleaner taste and brighter acidity, while dry processing produces deeper, and fruitier flavors.

The flavor profile of Arabica cultivars can also vary depending on the roast level, brewing method, and the age of the beans. Overall, understanding the flavor profile of different Arabica cultivars is essential for coffee traders, roasters, and enthusiasts alike, as it helps them identify and appreciate unique coffees and make informed decisions when selecting beans for specific purposes.

Growing Conditions

Growing conditions play a crucial role in the development and quality of Arabica cultivars. Factors such as altitude, climate, soil type, and rainfall can all have a significant impact on the flavor and aroma of the coffee beans. Arabica cultivars are typically grown in high altitude regions, between 1,200 and 2,200 meters above sea level, where the cooler temperatures slow down the growth of the coffee plant and allow for the gradual development of the coffee cherries.

The climate of the growing region also has a significant impact on the quality of the beans, with Arabica cultivars preferring a subtropical climate with frequent rainfall and high humidity. Additionally, the soil type can play a role in the development of the coffee beans, with volcanic soil being highly preferred due to its nutrient-rich composition.

Finally, the precise amount of rainfall also impacts the quality of the coffee beans, with the ideal conditions being approximately 2,000 mm per year, distributed evenly throughout the year. Understanding and optimizing these growing conditions is essential for producing the highest quality Arabica cultivars, as each factor combines to influence the unique taste and aroma of each distinct cultivar.

Processing Methods

The processing method is a crucial factor that impacts the flavor of Arabica cultivars. Processing refers to the steps taken to transform the harvested coffee cherries into coffee beans. There are two primary processing methods for Arabica cultivars: wet processing and dry processing. Wet processing involves removing the fruit’s pulp before drying the coffee beans. After the cherries are harvested, they are immediately immersed in water tanks.

The pulp is subsequently washed away using friction, fermentation, or a combination of both. The coffee beans are then removed and thoroughly washed before being laid out to dry. Wet processing produces coffee with a cleaner, brighter taste and a lighter body. Dry processing, on the other hand, involves drying the coffee cherries whole in the sun, allowing the cherries to dry on the tree, or using a combination of both.

The fruit’s skin is removed, but the pulp and mucilage are still present. The coffee beans dry inside their fruit, imparting a fruity flavor to the final cup. This method is commonly used in areas with low humidity and high temperatures. The resulting coffee beans have a heavier body and a more complex flavor profile. It is worth noting that both processing methods have advantages and disadvantages. Wet processing is more labor-intensive and expensive, but it results in a more consistent and predictable flavor profile.

Dry processing involves less labor and is more cost-effective but produces coffee with a more diverse range of flavors. A specific Arabica cultivar may respond better to one processing method than the other. This is because every cultivar has its unique attributes that respond differently to the production process. Understanding the ideal processing method for a specific Arabica cultivar is vital to unlocking its full flavor potential.

Cultivation Of Arabica Cultivars

Cultivating Regions

Arabica coffee is grown throughout the world, but not all regions are created equal. The regions where these coffees are grown can significantly affect their flavor, aroma, and acidity. One region that stands out for its Arabica production is Latin America. Countries such as Brazil, Colombia, and Guatemala produce some of the world’s most sought-after Arabica coffee. These countries have the ideal climate for growing Arabica coffee, with adequate rainfall and mild temperatures.

Additionally, high altitude areas in the region provide optimal growing conditions, which make these regions perfect for producing specialty grade coffees. The African continent is also home to some of the world’s most famous Arabica strains. Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee, produces many notable Arabica varieties such as Harrar, Yirgacheffe, and Sidamo. African countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda are also known for top-quality Arabica coffees, which are prized for their bright acidity and citrusy, floral notes.

Another region that is making a name for itself in the Arabica coffee world is Asia. Coffee production has been on the rise in this region, with countries such as Indonesia, India, and Vietnam taking the lead. Indonesia, in particular, is famous for producing rare Arabica varieties such as Kopi Luwak, known for its smooth and velvety texture. Vietnam is also renowned for producing specialty grade coffees, such as Peaberry and Catimor Arabica. While Asian coffees do not have the same complexity and acidity as those from Latin America and Africa, their low acidity and unique flavors make them stand out.

When it comes to Arabica coffee, the regions where the cultivars are grown play a critical role in determining the coffee’s attributes. Each region has its own unique environmental and geographical factors that influence the final product’s flavor, aroma, and acidity. By understanding these different regions, coffee enthusiasts can explore the vast range of Arabica varieties that are available and discover new and exciting flavors.

Planting and Harvesting

Planting and Harvesting are crucial aspects of the cultivation of Arabica cultivars. The success of these processes determines the quality of coffee beans harvested. Arabica cultivars require optimal growing conditions to thrive, including high altitudes, shaded environments, and ample rainfall. The best planting practices for Arabica cultivars involve selecting the right soil and planting at the right time of year.

Arabica cultivars grow best in well-draining, nutrient-rich soil that is slightly acidic with a pH between 5.0-6.0. It is also recommended to plant Arabica cultivars during the rainy season to ensure optimal moisture levels. When it comes to harvesting Arabica cultivars, there are different methods. The most common are hand-picking and strip-picking. Hand-picking entails carefully plucking individual ripe coffee cherries from the tree, which is a slow and labor-intensive process.

This method is preferred by many producers as it ensures only the ripest cherries are harvested. Strip-picking, on the other hand, involves removing all the cherries from the tree using a mechanical harvester. This method is much faster but may result in harvesting some unripe or overripe cherries, which can negatively impact the quality of the beans harvested. Sorting and processing of the harvested coffee cherries should be done promptly to prevent spoilage or fermentation.

Successful planting and harvesting of Arabica cultivars require proper selection of planting locations and growing conditions. These processes must be done with care and precision to ensure optimal quality coffee beans are harvested. Producers must also select the appropriate harvesting method that aligns with their desired quality of coffee beans. The study of planting and harvesting practices is vital in the cultivation of Arabica cultivars to better understand the complexities of coffee production.

Challenges in the way

Arabica coffee is an immensely valuable crop, but its cultivation is not without its challenges. One of the most significant obstacles is the threat of pests and diseases. Many cultivars are highly susceptible to certain pests, such as the coffee berry borer and leaf rust, which can devastate entire plantations. Another factor that producers must consider is the changing climate. Arabica is highly sensitive to temperature and rainfall, and even small fluctuations can have a significant impact on yield and quality.

Additionally, the terrain in which the cultivars are grown can present challenges. Mountainous regions, for example, are often difficult to navigate and may require specialized equipment to access. Finally, the issue of labor can also be a challenge. Producing high-quality coffee is labor-intensive, and there is often a shortage of skilled workers in many regions where Arabica is grown. Overall, these challenges require careful planning, expertise, and resources to ensure the continued success of Arabica cultivation.

Uses Of The Arabica cultivars

Beverage Industry

The Arabica cultivar is the most widely used in the coffee industry due to its exceptional taste and aroma. The beverage industry heavily relies on the Arabica cultivars for the production of high-quality coffee. The cultivar’s unique flavor profile distinguishes it from other coffee varieties and makes it a preferred choice for coffee lovers worldwide. With its low caffeine content, the Arabica cultivar is known for its mild, sweet, and aromatic taste, which makes it a perfect ingredient for several coffee-based beverages, including lattes, cappuccinos, and macchiatos.

The coffee industry also uses the Arabica cultivar to produce high-quality coffee blends that cater to various consumer preferences, giving rise to a thriving and diverse coffee industry. This demand has led to the development of different strains of the Arabica cultivar, each with unique and robust flavor profiles that cater to specific audiences. Therefore, the Arabica cultivar is an essential ingredient in the beverage industry as it contributes significantly to the coffee industry’s economic growth and overall consumer satisfaction.

Culinary Industry

Arabica cultivars have long been used in the culinary industry, adding unique flavor and aroma to various dishes and baked goods. The distinctive taste and aroma of Arabica coffee are due to its high-quality beans, which possess a complex and rich flavor profile. In cooking, Arabica cultivars are commonly used in sauces, marinades, desserts, and entrées. Their rich, fruity flavor and smooth texture make them an excellent addition to savory dishes like stews, casseroles and roasted meats. The nutty and chocolate notes present in Arabica beans also complement sweet dishes like cakes, pies, and pastries.

Bakers and chefs can use Arabica coffee as a substitute for instant coffee, brewed coffee, or espresso powder, adding depth of flavor to their creations. The high-quality beans are versatile, and the coffee can be used to make coffee-infused syrups and sauces that can be used to drizzle over cakes or ice cream. Bakers can even grind the beans finely and use them as an ingredient in cake or bread recipes to give them a distinctive flavor.

Incorporating Arabica beans into dishes and baked goods not only adds flavor but also provides the health benefits associated with coffee consumption. Studies have shown that moderate coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk of several chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and liver cancer. Due to the high antioxidant content in Arabica beans, consuming them has also been linked to reducing inflammation and oxidative stress in the body.

The unique flavor profile of Arabica cultivars, combined with their versatility, make them a popular choice for chefs and bakers around the world. Incorporating them into recipes can add depth and complexity of flavor while providing the health benefits associated with coffee consumption.

Medicinal Properties

The Arabica coffee cultivar is attributed to a wide variety of potential health benefits, ranging from improved cognitive function and mood to reduced risk of developing chronic diseases. One study showed that moderate consumption of coffee, particularly the Arabica variety, is associated with reduced risk of developing type II diabetes mellitus.

Another study found that regular coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, with the strongest benefit seen in individuals who drink the Arabica variety. Arabica coffee beans are known for their antioxidant properties and contain high levels of polyphenols, which are compounds that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic effects.

Additionally, certain compounds found in Arabica coffee can increase cardiovascular health by reducing LDL cholesterol levels and improving blood flow. As such, incorporating Arabica coffee into one’s diet may have potential health benefits, making it a valuable cultivar for medicinal use.

The different varieties of Arabica cultivars – FAQs

1. What are the different varieties of Arabica cultivars?

Answer: Some of the different varieties of Arabica cultivars include Bourbon, Typica, Caturra, Mundo Novo, Catuai, and Geisha.

2. What are the characteristics of Bourbon Arabica?

Answer: Bourbon Arabica is known for its sweet, fruity, and floral flavor profile, with notes of chocolate and caramel. It typically has a medium body and low acidity.

3. What makes Typica Arabica unique?

Answer: Typica Arabica is known for its delicate, complex flavor profile, with notes of citrus, spice, and floral. It typically has a light body and high acidity.

4. What are the flavor characteristics of Caturra Arabica?

Answer: Caturra Arabica is known for its sweet and smooth flavor profile, with notes of chocolate, nuts, and caramel. It typically has a medium body and medium acidity.

5. What makes Mundo Novo Arabica special?

Answer: Mundo Novo Arabica is known for its balanced flavor profile, with notes of chocolate, nuts, and fruit. It typically has a medium body and medium acidity.

6. What are the unique qualities of Geisha Arabica?

Answer: Geisha Arabica is known for its complex and distinctive flavor profile, with notes of tropical fruit, jasmine, and tea. It typically has a light body and high acidity. Geisha is also highly sought after and can be quite expensive.

Hanson Cheng

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