About Coffee Varieties

Coffea arabica is one of two species of coffee plants that are in wide cultivation globally. (The other is C. canephora, commonly called Robusta.) Arabica is by far the dominant species in Central America, and is considered to produce the highest cup quality. The Arabica species is made up of many varieties or cultivars—distinct types that are able to sexually reproduce with one another.

To be considered a distinct Arabica variety for inclusion in this catalog, varieties must meet the following standards (based on the definition of a variety as given by the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV)):

  • The variety is homogenous. It can be precisely described by a set of characteristics and all the plants of this type look the same.
  • The variety is different. It is distinguishable from other varieties based on the above set of characteristics.
  • The variety is stable. The variety can be reproduced in such a manner that its characteristics are unchanged in the next generation.

Most commonly known varieties meet the above criteria. However, some do not. For example, Catimor and Sarchimor are not distinct varieties according to this definition (see below). Three coffees included in this catalog—T5175, T5296, and Pacamara—do not meet the above definition because they are neither uniform nor stable from one generation to the next. They are included here because they are commonly known to farmers and grown widely in the region, but it's important to know they lack uniformity and stability and therefore do not meet the definition of variety laid out here.