The Other Coffee Varietals from Central & South America

The Other Coffee Varietals from Central/South America

By 02/03/2016Coffee cademy, Origin

Varietals, as we discussed in Coffee Varietals, contribute a significant characteristic to a coffee’s flavor. If grown, processed and roasted under identical conditions, a Catuai varietal will taste similar to a Mundo Novo varietal, but there will be a distinct difference between the two. In this example, the Catuai will have a slightly bitter taste, while the Mundo Novo varietal will be somewhat sweet. Our previous post on coffee varietals looked at the two grandparents of all Arabica varietals, Bourbon and Typica, and some varietals that were developed in Brazil. In this post, we’re going to continue our exploration by examining coffee varietals that are grown in South and Central America.

Castillo: A Great Varietal for Iced Coffee

Castillo is a varietal that’s specific to Colombia. It was developed by Colombia’s Federación Nacional de Cafeteros, which has a long history of coffee research and development, and the varietal is named after the scientist who developed it, Jamie Castillo.

Castillo was first debuted in 2005 as a replacement for Tabi and Colombia, two cultivars that were being grown in the country. Compared to those cultivars, Castillo is more disease resistant and produces a better cup. Among roasters and graders, Castillo is known for producing a mild body, pronounced aromas and high acidities — making it great for iced coffee as well as hot.

One coffee we featured that was a Castillo varietal was Colombia Lucero Supremo.

Caturra: A High-Elevation, High-Quality and High-Maintenance Varietal

Caturra is a natural mutation that was first found in Brazil. Today, it’s common in Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

Everything about Caturra is high. It’s a high-maintenance varietal, requiring a lot of water, care and fertilization. It’s also a great, high-quality coffee, especially when it’s grown at high elevations. (Production decreases but quality greatly increases at higher elevations.) Caturra is a highly acidic varietal that has a low-to-medium body. It’s not quite as sweet or clear as Bourbon, its parent varietal.

We often have Caturra coffees. One recent one was Guatemalan SHB Huehuetenango Finca El Limonar.

Catimor: A Robusta-Influenced Varietal

Catimor is a cross between Caturra and Timor, a varietal that has some Robusta influence. Although technically an Arabica varietal, Catimor’s Robusta influence is noticeable in its characteristics. It:

  • has extremely high yields
  • produces large cherries and beans
  • needs a lot of water (over 118 inches annually)
  • does well at lower elevations

All of these are characteristics of Robusta coffee.

Robusta isn’t as high a quality coffee as Arabica, which explains why Catimor lots from higher elevations don’t cup as well as other varietals from those elevations. Below 4,000 feet, however, the difference between Catimor and other varietals is negligible.

We’re always careful to choose only great Catimors, which can be hard to find. One low-elevation coffee that had Catimor in it that we carried was Peru Chirinos.

Mundo Novo: A Hardy Varietal

Mundo Novo s a Bourbon-Typica hybrid that was also first discovered in Brazil. Now, it accounts for about 40 percent of Brazil’s coffee production. This varietal is favored by farmers, because it’s resistant to pests and disease, and it produces about 30 percent more cherries than other Bourbon varietals.

Typically, higher-yielding varietals sacrifice cup quality, but Mundo Novo doesn’t. It regularly appears in Brazil’s Cup of Excellence and has been known to place well. Mundo Novo has a sweet, thick body and low acidity.

We’ve had several Mundo Novo varietals from Brazil. Brazil Fazenda California was an excellent one.

Maragogype: A Low-Yielding Varietal with Large Cherries

Maragogype is another varietal that was discovered in Brazil. Maragogype yields a lower number of cherries than most varietals, but it’s cherries and beans are larger than many varietals.

We don’t carry many lots that are specifically Maragogype, but we have worked with farms that grow Maragogype. One such farm was Mama Mina, from which we sourced Nicaragua Mama Mina.

Coffee varietals offer us a diverse world of characteristics, with each one providing unique growing and cupping traits. These are the varietals we’ve sourced thus far from Central and South America, and we’ve appreciated them all. To see what our varietals we currently are sending out, check out our current offerings.

Author Scott

Scott is a professional writer for Driftaway Coffee. He worked as a barista for eight years, but today prefers to enjoy his beverages from the other side of the counter. When not drinking Driftaway Coffee, Scott usually has a mug of his own roasted coffee nearby.

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