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Varietals & Processes?
Does anyone have a handle on what to expect in the cup for the different varietals (i.e. Caturra, Bourbon, etc.) and wet and dry processed coffee? This is still a mystery, to me. Thanks, Dan
John Despres
Oh, great question, Dan!

As to varietals, I'll leave that to another who's spent more time "studying" them.

I figured I'd go look through my notes of many of the coffees I've roasted and nail the answer to this. But I can't really find a specific link to the flavors of dry processed vs. the wet processed.

As to roasting, I treat the dry processed beans to a little more heat at the beginning of the roast and without going through any logs, I think it takes dry processed a bit longer to reach 1st - maybe 1 - 2 minutes.

Other than that, I look forward to learning more!

Thanks for asking, Dan.

Respect the bean.
John Despres
Fresh Roast 8, Gene Cafe, JYTT 1k, Quest M3, Mazzer Mini, Technivorm, various size presses and many more brewers.
I don't Dan. I'm still content just to hit the roast level I planned when the batch started (kinda like the frustrating rule of having to call your shot on the 8-ball to win).

But, I'm interested!

Edited by seedlings on 05/12/2008 2:21 PM
Roaster: CoffeeAir II 2# DIY air roaster
Grinder: Vintage Grindmaster 500
Brewers: Vintage Cory DCU DCL, Aeropress, Press, Osaka Titanium pourover

This is an excellent topic for discussion!

You know, I am going to have to give this some thought; these are all characteristics that I generally take into account when I am perusing coffees to order because it creates a "taste sensation" in my mind of what the coffee will present in the cup. I have just never thought about articulating such and am finding it quite challenging.

As you are already well aware with coffee, there are few if any absolutes, but this should provide some interesting discussion and maybe people can begin by just describing their impressions when they read certain terms. An attempt to get things started ...

Wet Process:
Clean, crisp, clarity in cup, marked distinctions between the flavors and aromas in the cup

Dry Process:
Distinct flavors in the cup with presence, but not nearly as segregated as the wet process coffees

Pulp Natural:
Body and resonance, one flavor lending to the next with at least a touch of "rustic" in the cup

More later ... gotta go to T-ball ...

Great topic, Dan!!!
Edited by EddieDove on 12/16/2008 5:54 PM

Eddie Dove

The South Coast Coffee Roaster
vita non est vivere sed valere vita est
Home Coffee Roasting Blog and Reference
Bourbons from Brazil - At various intensities: sweetness, nuttiness, chocolate, fruit, often some cedar and hopeful for jasmine/sage/rosemary. I roasted a Brazil Cachoeira da Grama Yellow Bourbon (100%) for last Thanksgiving with the folks and the jasmine notes in the nicely-bodied, sweet chocolate cup was wonderful; it was a hit with the family, too. Darker roasts dominated by chocolate.

Bourbons from Guatemala - Most of the time, a balanced, medium intensity (sometimes bold), almost always fruited cup accompanied by some sort of warming spice. Fruit can persist in the darker roasts while more bittersweet chocolates develop. Sometimes exotically floral, with tea rose, honeysuckle, etc. Generally, the bolder the cup, the more the body.

Caturra, Catuai & Catucai (the "cat" coffees) - Generally, and it may be my roasting skills, these are not my favorites. They almost always create a sensation of a metallic taste for me which oddly enough is why I rarely like catfish. Dismissing absolutes though is the fact that the January 2007 arrival of the Colombia Cup of Excellence #12 - El Descanso from Sweet Maria's absolutely blew my mind and even moreso when I went to find out the varietal and read "100% Caturra;" one of the most memorable coffees I've had. I really enjoyed the Colombian Nari?o -Reserva Del Patron at every roast level I tried, but it was a combination of 60% Caturra and 40% Typica; the hint of black walnut, which I really like, was fabulous.

That's all for now ...

Dan, is this the kind of discussion you were hoping for?
Edited by EddieDove on 11/29/2008 12:50 PM

Eddie Dove

The South Coast Coffee Roaster
vita non est vivere sed valere vita est
Home Coffee Roasting Blog and Reference
Ahem... help us blind, dumb and (at least temporarily still) happy-go-lucky blissfully unaware roasters understand WHAT a variatel is WRT coffee. Please share a definition of "Bourbon, Caturra, Catuai, Catucai". My understanding is limited to "wet process" and "dry process". And, someone may as well give a little refresher for those as well.

Gee, this really IS rocket science.
Roaster: CoffeeAir II 2# DIY air roaster
Grinder: Vintage Grindmaster 500
Brewers: Vintage Cory DCU DCL, Aeropress, Press, Osaka Titanium pourover
Dan, really great topic!

I will need to look at more of Tom's reviews of the coffees I really like.

The monsooned coffees are some of my favorites and I find that they all have some
strong funk flavor, a real balance of earth that when roasted to a full city ++ really
bring me some super flavor.

I am not sure that is what you are talking about though!!


Great questions, I tried to run this up the flag pole on SM list and didn't get much info. I tried to compare the varietals to apples, some are sweeter, some more tart and each has unique flavors. Gesha seem to be strongly fruited and Pacamara seem to yield the strongest nuttiness. Then there's the effects of the soils, altitude and growing conditions. As for the processing, the non-wet processed have the effects of fermentation and the absorption and remaining residues from the pectin and pulp layers.
Edited by farmroast on 05/14/2008 9:38 AM
Ed B.
DreamRoast 1kg roaster, Levers, Hand Mills
Eddie, Yes, this is what I was hoping for, what to expect from the various varietals in our cups.

Ed, I remember you raising the issue at SM, and sadly nothing came of it. Two of my fellow homeroasters who stop by my place have both said they wanted to learn more about the varietals, hinting that there might be some advantage to doing so, or that some coffee mystery might be revealed.

John and Eddie, Thanks for the process notes. I suppose they could have been a separate thread, but I didn't know how people would respond to this topic, so I lumped them in with the varietals.

FYI: Coffea (coffee) is a genus of ten species (including Robusta, Liberica, and Arabica) of flowering plants in the family Rubiaceae. There are various varietals and cultivars grown for consumption. For instance Bourbon, Caturra, Typica, etc. Each has a distinct flavor that changes with the environment it is grown in.

I imagine many of my questions are answered in Uker's book, but that is a lot to wade through. I'm hoping that each of us as something to add. To me, its the next step in coffee appreciation. I know that my appreciation of wines grew by leaps and bounds when I started tasting the various grapes (Cab. Sauvignon, Merlot, Gamay, etc.)

Any other observations?
Here is some more information, but nothing much about expected flavors.

Typica - This is the base from which many coffee varietals have been developed. Like the other Coffea Arabica varietals that have been developed from it, Typica coffee plants have a conical shape with a main vertical trunk and secondary verticals that grow at a slight slant. Typica is a tall plant reaching 3.5-4 m in height. The lateral branches form 50-70? angles with the vertical stem. Typica coffee has a very low production, but has an excellent cup quality.

Bourbon - Bourbon coffee plants produce 20-30% more coffee than Typica, but have a smaller harvest than less most coffee varietals. Bourbon has less of a conical shape than Typica coffee plants, but has more secondary branches. The angles between the secondary branches and the main stem are smaller, and the branch points on the main stem are closely spaced. The leaves are broad and wavy on the edges. The fruit is relatively small and dense. The cherries mature quickly and are at a risk of falling off during high winds or rains. The best results for Bourbon coffee are realized between 3,500-6,500 feet. Cup quality is excellent and similar to Typica.

Caturra - Caturra is a mutation of Coffee Bourbon discovered in Brazil. It is a mutation with high production and good quality, but requires extensive care and fertilization. It is short with a thick core and has many secondary branches. It has large leaves with wavy borders similar to Coffee Bourbon. It adapts well to almost any environment, but does best between 1,500-5,500 feet with annual precipitation between 2,500-3,500 mm. At higher altitudes quality increases, but production decreases.

Catuai - Catuai is a high yielding coffee plant resulting from a cross between Mundo Novo and Caturra. The plant is relatively short, and the lateral branches form close angles with the primary branches. The fruit does not fall off the branch easily, which is favorable with areas with strong winds or rain. Catuai also needs sufficient fertilization and care.

Pache comum - Pache comum is a mutation of Typica coffee first observed on the farm El Brito, Santa Cruz Naranjo, Santa Rosa, Guatemala. Many consider the cup to be smooth or flat. This coffee varietal adapts well between 3,500-5,500 feet.

Pache colis - Pache colis was found in Mataquescuintla, Guatemala in a farm consisting of Caturra and Pache comum. The coffee fruits are very large and the leaves are roughly textured. Pache colis provides some resistance to phoma. It has secondary and tertiary branching, and typically grows to 0.8-1.25 m. It adapts well to altitudes of 3,000-6,000 feet with temperatures between 20-21?C.

Catimor - Catimor is a cross between Timor coffee (resistant to rust) and Caturra coffee. It was created in Portugal in 1959. Maturation is early and production is very high with yields equal to or greater than the yield of other commercial coffee varietals. For this reason the method of fertilization and shade must be monitored very closely. The Catimor T-8667 descendants are relatively small in stature, but have large coffee fruits and seeds. The Catimor line T-5269 is strong and adapts well to lower regions between 2,000-3,000 feet with annual rainfall over 3,000 mm. T-5175 is very productive and robust, but can have problems at either very high or very low altitudes. At low altitudes there is almost no difference in cup quality between Catimor and the other commercial coffee varietals, but at elevations greater than 4,000 feet Bourbon, Caturra, and Catuai have a better cup quality.

Kent - Kent is used for its high yield and resistance to coffee rust.

Mundo Novo - Natural hybrid between Typica coffee and Bourbon coffee. The plant was first found in Brazil. The plant is strong and resistant to disease. Mundo Novo has a high production, but matures slightly later than other kinds of coffee. It does well between 3,500-5,500 feet with an annual rainfall of 1,200-1,800 mm.

Maragogype - This coffee varietal is a mutation of Typica coffee and was discovered in Brazil. The Maragogype coffee plant is large and is taller than either Bourbon or Typica. Production is low, but the seeds are very large. Maragogype adapts best between 2,000-2,500 feet. The cup characteristics are highly appreciated in certain coffee markets.

Amarello - This coffee varietal, as its name indicates, produces a yellow fruit. It is not widely planted.

Blue mountain - Blue mountain is a famous coffee varietal favored for its resistance to the coffee berry disease and ability to thrive in high altitudes. It was first grown in Jamaica and is now grown in Kona, Hawaii. Blue mountain coffee, however, cannot adapt to all climates and maintain its high quality flavor profile.
Supherb presentation, Dan! s:2 I did not know any of this before your thread, so I'm extremely grateful you brought it to our attention!

s:1 I hope you copy and pasted!

Roaster: CoffeeAir II 2# DIY air roaster
Grinder: Vintage Grindmaster 500
Brewers: Vintage Cory DCU DCL, Aeropress, Press, Osaka Titanium pourover
Thanks, Chad. Yep, copy/pasted from a number or sources in a search for "coffee varietals." I notice that a lot of sources call growing regions 'varietals.' I think varietals and cultivars are botany terms, not geography terms. This confused me at first. In wine growing, unique regions are called appelations. I broke down and ordered a copy of Ukers, 2nd edition. I know we have it in the downloads section, but I find it difficult to read PDF, especially when they are image scans and not searchable text.
Here are some more notes, although vague on the flavor. This is from the CoffeeDNA website taxonomy: The short answer is that Etypica and Bourbon are the older varietals and that they consider them the highest cup quality.

Bourbon: Origin not well defined, possibly a mutant derived from a number of Arabica types from Yemen and Ethiopia and brought to La Reunion Island (formely Bourbon Island) after 1715. Later introduced in East Africa, Brazil (in 1852) and other in Latin America countries. Slightly more compact and upright growth and higher yielding than Typica. Excellent beverage quality.

Caturra: Natural short-stature mutation from Typica found in Bahia, Brazil, in 1930. It has compact growth with short intenodes. Important variety in Central America and Mexico growing under shade conditions. Intermediate to high yield and good beverage.

Catuai: A hybrid between Caturra X Mundo Novo made at the Inst. Agronomy, Campinas, Brazil in 1949. Released for cultivation as short-stature variety, Fruits with yellow lines. Higher yielding than Caturra. Catuai is the 2nd most cultivated variety in Brazil, and also important in Central America and Mexico. Late maturing variety, medium-sized beans and good beverage.

Etypica: Original Arabica material introduced from Ethiopia/Yemen into Asia in early 16th Century, also brought to Botanical Gardens in Holland and France, and from these Gardens introduced into the Caribean and Latin America after 1720. Good-superior beverage.

Laurina: Early maturing (earlier than Bourbon). Natural mutation from Red Bourbon out of Reunion Island found in 1860s. Plants characterized by short-stature, very small leaves, elongated fruits and beans, early maturing, and 50 percent reduced caffeine. Very low yield and excellent beverage. It was cultivated until mid-1950s in limited acreage.

Mundo novo: Selection from a natural cross between Red Bourbon and Sumatra found in Sao Paulo in 1931. Characterized by tall stature, vigorous growth, very high yields and good beverage. It replaced Bourbon fields in Brazil, and presently it is the most cultivated variety in Brazil. The selection Acaia has larger bean-size and more erect lateral branches.

Pacas: Natural mutation from Red Bourbon found in El Salvador in 1909, short-stature type, more compact than Caturra. It is high yielding, Late maturing, shorter than Caturra and Catuai with good beverage type.

Maragogype: The original Maragogype is a natural mutant of Typica found in Brazil in 1870. Characterized by extreme large fruits and leaves, very tall plants, long lateral branches. Low yields and flat type of beverage.
Very interesting reading!

I'm confused as to whether there is any distinction between cultivar and varietals?

I read on wikipedia that cultivar was a made-up word, to describe a plant that has been chosen for particular features, and found to be easy to propagate with the same features.

Looking for the term varietals lands me deep in wine country, which I have zero experience with, so that's no help.

I have been intrigued enough by Tom's description of several bourbons, that I've got several in my stash to try out. I'm waiting until I get a little more comfortable with my roasting before I try them though.

Bill, I see both terms being used in seed catalogs. The best I can tell is that cultivar is like you say, a plant that had that particular features and was then cultivated. A varietal is often a cross, as in cross-breeding. The other term for varietal is sub-species. But then I'm no botanist!
I found this explication rather informative:

"Often, you'll see the words "cultivar" and "variety" used interchangeably, but technically, there is a difference. A variety can be grown from seed, but a cultivar is propagated vegetatively, usually by rooting stem cuttings or dividing and replanting pieces of root taken from the parent plant. Strains are varietal mutations that has been chosen and propagated for an improved or unusual characteristic."

and also:
"A cultivar -- cultivated variety -- is a kind of variety that can only be maintained by human cultivation - it does not come true from seed or reproduce itself in nature. Hybrid plants are cultivars. The cultivar name is set off in one of three ways - by putting the abbreviation cv. before it, as in Ilex cornuta cv. Burfordii; by using boldface type; or most commonly, by enclosing it in single quotes, as in Camellia japonica `Debutante.'"
Edited by EddieDove on 05/24/2008 10:28 AM

Eddie Dove

The South Coast Coffee Roaster
vita non est vivere sed valere vita est
Home Coffee Roasting Blog and Reference
Eddie, That is useful and what I'm finding true from what I consider the better sources. I've also run across the two terms being used interchangeably. Once in the same sentence. I've also found that 'varietal' is preferred over 'variety,' too.

I wonder if 'variety' isn't broken down into two sub-classes: cultivars and varietals?



Excellent Boot resource again!

Roaster: CoffeeAir II 2# DIY air roaster
Grinder: Vintage Grindmaster 500
Brewers: Vintage Cory DCU DCL, Aeropress, Press, Osaka Titanium pourover
I always claim to be just a coffee hobbyist and not a gourmet, specifically because I'm a clod when it comes to tasting and smelling. But I appreciate all the info here since it helps make sense out of the green bean fog presented on most vendor websites.

My feeling is that one of our greatest problems is trying to describe intangibles: tastes and smells. How can you describe the perception of "red" to someone who only speaks a foreign language? Example is the only way I know. Apologies, Eddie. But words like "presence" and "resonance" don't communicate any information. (Sounds like a menu from a major nation-wide coffee cafe chain.) Some recognizable examples would be more helpful but I realize that may not always be possible. We need to define our terms somehow.

Coffee Guide has a listing of coffee flavors by geographic region that might be helpful. Too bad it's not in table format so it would be easier to scan and compare descriptions.

This is a needed and interesting discussion. Particularly because the green bean fog covers different growing regions and varietals. I've noticed that often the beans from the same region are more different from each other than they differ from beans in different regions. Peru's can sometimes taste like Kenyans or Sumatrans, Mexicans like Ethiopians, etc. Maybe the variance just points up the need for descriptive, defined terms. I need to go to a cupping class!
Edited by dBndbit on 12/13/2008 7:52 PM
11 years old... forever!
>home-built roasters and fair trade


dBndbit wrote:
I always claim to be just a coffee hobbyist and not a gourmet, specifically because I'm a clod when it comes to tasting and smelling. ...Apologies, Eddie. But words like "presence" and "resonance" don't communicate any information. (Sounds like a menu from a major nation-wide coffee cafe chain.) Some recognizable examples would be more helpful but I realize that may not always be possible. We need to define our terms somehow.

I can weigh in at the opposite end of the discussion. When I cup, I enjoy the descriptive and believe it is important and has its place, as Jim suggests. But there are times (and coffees) when I enjoy the images and poetic license to just play with the writing. That is when I dialogue with a cup.

I understand that approach isn't helpful to those seeking terse, descriptive , familiar adjectives, but as you say, this is a hobby. I enjoy writing and coffee and love to marry them.

Dave Borton
Milwaukee, WI
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