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Coffee varietals


Coffee beans from two different places usually have distinctive characteristics such as flavor (flavor criteria includes terms such as "citrus-like" or "earthy"), caffeine content, body or mouthfeel, and acidity. These are dependent on the local environment where the coffee plants are grown, their method of process, and the genetic subspecies or varietal.

Some well-known arabica coffees include:

  • Colombian - Coffee was first introduced to the country of Colombia in the early 1800's. Today Maragogype, Caturra, Typica and Bourbon cultivars are grown. When Colombian coffee is freshly roasted it has a bright acidity, is heavy in body and is intensely aromatic. Colombia produces about 12% of the coffee in the world, second only to Brazil.
  • Colombian Milds - Includes coffees from Colombia, Kenya, and Tanzania, all of which are washed arabicas.
  • Costa Rican Tarrazu - from the Tarrazu Valley in the highlands outside of San José, archetypal estate coffee is La Minita.
  • Guatemala Huehuetenango - Grown at over 5000 feet in the northern region, one of the most remote growing regions in Guatemala
  • Ethiopian Harrar - from the region of Harar, Ethiopia
  • Ethiopian Yirgacheffe - from the area of the town of Yirga Cheffe in the Sidamo (now Oromia) region of Ethiopia
  • Hawaiian Kona - grown on the slopes of Hualalai in the Kona District on the Big Island of Hawaii.
  • Jamaican Blue Mountain - From the Blue Mountain region of Jamaica. Due to its popularity, it fetches a high price in the market.
  • Java - from the island of Java, in Indonesia. This coffee was once so widely traded that "java" became a slang term for coffee.
  • Kenya AA - from Kenya. The "AA" is a grade/rating within Kenya's coffee auction system. It might come from any one of a number of districts. Known among coffee enthusiasts to have an "acidic" flavor.
  • Sumatra Mandheling and Sumatra Lintong - Mandheling is named for the Mandheling region outside Padang in West Sumatra, Indonesia. Contrary to its name, no coffee is actually produced from the "Mandheling region," and "Sumatra Mandheling" is used as a marketing tool by Indonesian coffee producers. Lintong on the other hand, is named after the Lintong district, located in North Sumatra.
  • Sulawesi Toraja Kalossi - Grown at high altitudes on the island of Sulawesi (formerly Celebes) in the middle of the Malay archipelago in Indonesia. Kalossi is the small town in central Sulawesi which serves as the collection point for the coffee and Toraja is the mountainous area in which the coffee is grown. Celebes exhibits a rich, full body, well-balanced acidity (slightly more than Sumatra) and is multi-dimensional in character. It has dark chocolate and ripe fruit undertones. It is an excellent coffee for darker roasting. Because of it's semi-dry processing, it may roast a bit unevenly, but don't cull the odd beans-they add to the complexity of the cup.
  • Mocha - Yemeni coffee traded through the once major port of Mocha. Mocha is believed to be the first coffee used in a blend, along with beans from Java. Not to be confused with the preparation style (coffee with cocoa).
  • Tanzania Peaberry - grown on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. "Peaberry" means that the beans come one to a cherry (coffee fruit) instead of the usual two. Peaberries are naturally occurring and account for approximately 10% of any crop.
  • Coffees are often blended for balance and complexity, and many popular blendings exist. One of the oldest traditional blends is Mocha-Java, combining beans of the same name. The chocolate flavor notes peculiar to Mocha gave rise to the popular chocolate-flavored beverage, the Cafe Mocha, which may have been invented in circumstances where no Mocha beans were available. Nowadays, the Mocha-Java blend is often blended with some other varieties to provide variety. In addition to those blends sold commercially, many coffee houses have their own signature "house blends".


Some bean varieties are so well-known and so in-demand that they are far more expensive than others. Jamaican Blue Mountain and Hawaiian Kona coffees are perhaps the most prominent examples. Often these beans are blended with other, less expensive varieties and the suffix "blend" added to the labelling, such as "Blue Mountain blend" or "Kona blend" even though they only contain a small amount of the coffee mentioned.

One unusual and very expensive variety of robusta is the Indonesian Kopi Luwak and the Philippine Kape Alamid. The beans are collected from the droppings of the Common Palm Civet, whose digestive processes give it a distinctive flavor.