Main Types

Bourbon and Typica Group

These are varieties of the Bourbon and genetic groups (so-called because of the names of the famous Bourbon Bourbon and Typica Typica varieties which are the progenitors of this group). C. arabica is native of Ethiopia, where the major genetic diversity of the species is found. In the 15th and 16th century, coffee trees from Kaffa region in southwest Ethiopia were introduced to Yemen. Then, in the early 17th century, a few seeds or trees were introduced from Yemen to India and then from India to Indonesia island of Java by the Dutch, which gave rise to the Typica lineage (also called Arabigo or Indio). Typica plants were taken to conservatories in Europe and then spread across the American continent along colonial trade routes during the 18th century. Seeds were also introduced from Yemen to the island of Bourbon, which gave rise to the Bourbon lineage. The first Bourbon plants reached the American continent through Brazil after 1850. Both Typica and Bourbon plants were introduced to Africa in the 19th century through various routes: From Indian plantations (both Typica and Bourbon), from French missionaries on Bourbon Island (Bourbon), from Scottish missionaries in Yemen (Typica and Bourbon), and from Jamaica (Typica).

These varieties are associated with standard or high cup quality, but are susceptible to the major coffee diseases. World Coffee Research estimates that more than 80% of Arabica coffee production worldwide derives from Typica- and Bourbon-related varieties.

For a detailed history of how varieties in the Bourbon and Typica genetic group came to dominate global coffee production, see “History of Bourbon and Typica Coffee."

Ethiopian Landrace

A landrace is a domesticated, locally adapted, traditional variety of a species of animal or plant that has developed over time, through adaptation to its natural and cultural environment of agriculture and pastoralism, and due to isolation from other populations of the species.

In coffee, most landrace varieties originate from the forests of Ethiopia, where C. arabica evolved, through a process of human-led domestication. They are generally associated with very high cup quality and lower yields.

Introgressed (Catimor/Sarchimor)

Introgressed varieties are those that possess some genetic traits from another species—mainly, C. canephora (Robusta), but also sometimes C. liberica. (“Introgressed” means “brought over.”) In the 1920s, a C. arabica and a C. canephora plant on the island of East Timor sexually reproduced to create a new coffee now known as the Timor Hybrid. This Arabica variety contains Robusta genetic material that allowed the plant to resist coffee leaf rust. Coffee experts realized the value of this disease resistance and began using the Timor Hybrid in experiments to create new varieties that could resist leaf rust. They selected many different “lines” of Timor Hybrid, and then crossed them with other varieties, most commonly the high-yielding dwarf Arabica varieties Caturra and Villa Sarchi. These crosses (Timor Hybrid x Caturra, and Timor Hybrid x Villa Sarchi) led to the creation of the two main groups of introgressed Arabica varieties: Catimors and Sarchimors. It’s important to note that, contrary to common belief, neither Catimors nor Sarchimors are themselves distinct varieties. Instead, they are groups of many different distinct varieties with similar parentage. Other introgressed varieties, like Batian, were creating from complex multiple crosses involving the Timor Hybrid; RAB C15 is the only introgressed variety in this catalog that was not created using the Timor Hybrid—it originates from a controlled cross made by Indian breeders between C. canephora and the Arabica Kent variety. Many introgressed varieties are covered in this catalog. These varieties have traditionally been associated with lower cup quality than others, but they have been essential for coffee farmers for whom coffee leaf rust and coffee berry disease are a major threat.

F1 Hybrid

Hybrids generally are offspring resulting from the crossing of two genetically distinct individuals. For the purposes of this catalog, “hybrids” refers to F1 hybrids, a new group of varieties created by crossing genetically distinct Arabica parents and using the first-generation offspring. Many of these relatively new varieties were created to combine the best characteristics of the two parents, including high cup quality, high yield, and disease resistance. F1 hybrids are notable because they tend to have significantly higher production than non-hybrids.

An important note about F1 hybrids: Seeds taken from F1 hybrid plants will not have the same characteristics as the parent plants. This is called “segregation.” It means that the child plant will not look or behave the same as the parent, with potential losses of yield, disease resistance, quality, or other agronomic performance traits. The variety should only be reproduced through clonal propagation. It is therefore important for farmers to know that F1 hybrids seedlings should be purchased from trusted nurseries.