As with wines, the species and variety of a tree are fundamental to the quality of the final product. Although there are many families of coffee species, 99% of the world’s coffee comes from just two: Arabica and Canephora (also known as Robusta). In general, Arabica species produce higher quality coffees, while Canephora is more productive and resistant to pests and diseases.
The Arabica species is mainly cultivated in Central America, Colombia, Peru, Brazil and some countries in East Africa. Robusta is mainly produced in Brazil, Vietnam, Indonesia and a handful of African countries. The latter, given its low price and poor quality, is widely used in instant coffees around the world. As we are a company specializing in high quality coffees, we will concentrate for the moment only on the Coffea Arabica species — the only species cultivated in Colombia. Within the Arabica species, there are many different varieties (somewhat similar to the different canine breeds). A significant number of these have been identified and cataloged, while others exist only in the wild — mainly in Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee. Each variety is defined by a distinct phenotype.
The phenotype describes the structure and size of a tree as well as its branches, the shape of its leaves, the color of its cherries, the shape of it beans, and most importantly — the final cup profile produced by its fruit. The most important varieties within the Arabica species fall into two categories: pure and hybrid. Pure varieties have not been genetically modified, and have evolved over time through natural mutations. Genetically-mixed varieties are produced by crossing different varieties of pure Arabica with the Timor Hybrid, a cross between Canephora and Arabica. The final result is a plant with a cup quality similar to pure Arabicas, but with the partial resistance to diseases and pests of a Canephora.