Mundo Novo is the result of a natural cross between the Bourbon and Typica varieties found in Mineiros do Tiete, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Seeds of the original coffee plants were planted in the municipality of Novo Mundo, today called Urupês, where selection gave rise to the variety Mundo Novo. The variety was discovered in 1943.
The first selections of Mundo Novo in Brazil were completed between 1943 and 1952. The variety has been distributed to farmers in Brazil since 1952. New selections were released by the IAC in Brazil beginning in 1977. The variety has commercial importance in Brazil and other South American countries, including Peru, but is little used in Central America. It first arrived in Costa Rica in 1952, though it was not widely adopted because farmers disliked its very tall statute. There were several introductions to Guatemala in 1963-64. It was introduced to Honduras from CATIE in 1974. In Africa, it is also found in Malawi.
The plant is characterized by its very tall stature. It is vigorous and productive for a traditional American type variety, but is late maturing. Its leaf tips can be green or bronze.
A cross between Mundo Novo and dwarf Caturra gave rise to dwarf Catuai.