An Origin, Region, & Varietal Guide: Season 8



BOLIVIA is a South American country with a relatively small coffee production. About 90-95% of Bolivian coffees grow in a region called Yungas, including smaller regions such as Caranavi, Larecaja, and Franz Tamayo. Smaller regions of coffee growing in Bolivia include Vaca Diez, Ichilo, Santa Cruz, Aniceto Arce, and Chapare. Coffees from Bolivia are typically washed, though we have seen more natural and experimental processes in recent years. 

BRAZIL is the biggest coffee producer in the world. Vietnam and Colombia are in second and third in terms of worldwide coffee production, but Brazil still produces about 4 times more coffee than Colombia, and doubles Vietnam’s coffee production. Today, coffee quality control technology is quite advanced in Brazil, and Brazil is known to implement new technology to help with coffee yield/production control, fermentation and coffee processing, as well as sorting and the exportation process overall. Most coffees that grow in Brazil, are grown at an altitude of under 1600 masl. Coffee growing regions here include 5 larger ones, and are split into sub-regions. The 5 main growing regions include: Bahia, Espirito Santo, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, and Sāo Paulo. Some sub-regions that you might see are located within Minas Gerais, such as Cerrado, Matas de Minas, and Sul de Minas. Another popular sub-region is Mogiana, which is located in Sāo Paulo. Most coffee in Brazil goes through natural or pulped natural process, though we have seen more experimental processes in recent years such as washed, anaerobic & carbonic macerations, and introduction of non-coffee ingredients in processing too. 

CHINA, located in Asia, is considered an “emerging origin” for coffea arabica. Putting whether the term is appropriate or not aside, almost all Chinese coffees are grown in the Yunnan province or region. China has been growing coffee for exportation for about 10 years now, and up to then it was predominantly a tea-growing region. In recent years, we have seen a quality spike in Chinese coffees and processing techniques. About 70-80% of the specialty coffee grown in China are of the Catimor varietal, which seems to grow quite well with the Yunnan climate. More coffees from China are being processed in innovative ways that increase the quality and cupping score, and it is exciting to begin seeing 86-89 point Chinese coffees in the specialty market. 

COLOMBIA is a large South American country and is one of the largest exporters of coffee. We see many grades of Colombian coffee around the world, ranging from the low end of commercial coffee all the way to award winning, competition grade specialty coffee. There are many regions to list for Colombia, but the slightly more common ones we see here in North America include: Antioquia, Cauca, Cundinamarca, Huila, Nariño, and Tolima. Regions we see slightly less of here include: Boyacá, Caldas, Cesar, Caquetá, Casanare, Guajira, Magdalena, Meta, Quindio, Risaralda, Santander, Valle. Colombia typically produces washed coffees historically, however we have been seeing more naturals and honeys from here, and spectacular experimental/innovative processing coming from various regions and producers. Identifying Colombian coffees may be one of the most difficult due to the many regions and profiles that exist as a result of the diverse terroir. We know it’s a tough one, so don’t be so hard on yourself if you can’t identify it! 

ECUADOR, located in South America, has been growing coffee for a long time, though has been more popular over the past 10 years. Ecuadorian coffees grow in very diverse environments, ranging from sea level to above 2000 masl. There are many challenges with growing coffee in Ecuador due to climate change (and being on the equator), but we are so glad to see improvement in coffee quality year after year. Coffee grows in 10 or more separate regions, though we do see specialty coffees grown more commonly in Loja, Pichincha, El Oro, and Galapagos. Other coffee growing regions include: Azuay, Carchi, Chimborazo, Imbabura, Tungurahua, and Zamora-Chinchipe. 

ETHIOPIA is known to be the birthplace of coffee. The majority of coffee farmers and producers in Ethiopia are smallholder farmers, owning less than 1 hectare of land. Cherries are mostly picked and sold to a cooperative, or dried naturally and then sold to a cooperative. Many coffees you see from Ethiopia will not have a farmer or producer’s name for this reason. When you see one specific name, it is likely because they are a larger, privately owned estate, or a larger cooperative with one head manager or owner. Ethiopian regions sometimes shift to this day due to the political and social climate, though we do see the majority of coffees from the following regions and sub-regions: Guji, Sidama, Yirgacheffe, and Harrar. Other less common regions we see in North American coffee shops include: Djimma/Jimma, Limu/Limmu, Lekempti/Nekemte, Kaffa, Arsi, and Bale. Coffees from Ethiopia are usually washed or natural, and we may occasionally see a honey or experimental process coffee. 

INDONESIA, located in Southeast Asia, is split into larger coffee-growing regions with their specific and prototypical flavour profiles. Regions include Bali, Flores, Java, Sulawesi, and Sumatra. East Timor, Timor-Leste, and Papua New Guinea are often included as regions as well. One of the main coffee processing methods here is wet-hulled as a result of the climate. The high humidity environment demands a different approach, where wet-hulled is similar to a washed process, but involves more than one drying period. Instead of washing and drying once, it is dried to 50-55%, sold or stored, then half-dried again where the parchment is removed (i.e. wet-milled). It is finally air-dried again, and exported. Recently, in addition to wet-hulled (AKA giling basah), we are seeing more washed, semi-washed, and natural processes, as well as experimental processing. 

PANAMA is located in Central America, and coffee has changed drastically over the past 10-20 years. Panamanian coffees became more popularized due to the increasingly high auction prices for Panamanian Gesha coffees, and current grows a wide range of coffee varietals, processed in a multitude of ways. There are 3 coffee growing regions here: Boquete, Volcán, and Renacimiento. Coffees grown here are typically washed or natural processed, and higher end single varietals can go through incredibly arduous and meticulous processing, whether it is washed, natural, honey, or experimental. 



These three varietals are commonly found in Indonesia. Andungsari is a selected Catimor, and has high productivity, a good cup profile, and lowered risk of coffee leaf rust. Lini S795 is a hybrid between Kent (a mutation of Typicaan arabica-only variety), with an unknown Liberica (non-arabica varietal). Lini S795 typically has a more gentle acidity. Sigarar Utang, or Ateng, is a hybrid between Caturra and HdT831 (a Timtim varietala robusta-related variety), with good resistance to coffee leaf rust, and cups with a slight herbal and fruit note, and a syrupy & silky body. 


Originated and typically only grown in Colombia, developed for its rust resistance by Cenicafé. Descended from the Colombia variety, it was released in 2005, and continues to provide good yield and production to date. Castillo is sometimes seen as less desirable compared to other varietals that have high cup quality and low yields, however there are certainly excellent Castillos out there. Flavour profile for a typical washed coffee is smooth body and citric acidity. 


Originated in Portugal, and widely grown in Central & South America and Asia due to strong resistance to leaf rust. It is a hybrid between Caturra and Timor, and thus contains arabica and robusta genetics. Catimor grows best at altitudes lower than 1700 meters above sea level. Cup quality can sometimes be inconsistent, and due to the robusta genetics can occasionally result in a bitter aftertaste. It can even have notes of rubber when there are issues with growing, harvesting, processing, or roasting. However, there are very good quality Catimors out there that have great tasting characteristics. 


Grown in many places around the world, most typically in Central and South America, including but not limited to: Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. Catuai is a hybrid between Caturra and Mundo Novo, and grows as typically either red or yellow catuai. Catuai is 100% arabica due to the genetic lineage. Due to the different maturation colours, they can sometimes be mixed into the same lot if the specific lot is not separated/isolated. In some ways, this variety is slightly more difficult than others to identify via taste. 



Originally discovered in Brazil, now widely grown in Latin American countries, including: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, and Peru. Related to Bourbon plant as it is a natural mutation of Bourbon. Usually average to slightly larger than average size after roasting. Typically has a medium to medium-high acidity. 



Originating from Ethiopia with non-traceable specificity of varietals; also known as “heirloom varietals”. The Jimma Agricultural Research Center is currently doing more research on Ethiopian varietals, finding and naming unique varietals or strains of coffee such as 74110, or Dega. Typically very small bean size after roasting, oftentimes has some variation in size, and can sometimes have longberries mixed in. 


Laurina is a relatively new varietal, more commonly found in Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Hawaii, and Nicaragua. It derives from the Bourbon family, most likely Bourbon Pointu, which gives Laurina its slightly pointed bean/seed shape. Laurina has arabica-related genetics, but is naturally low in caffeine. Aramosa is still being studied, meaning that the genetics are still being tested. However, as a hybrid between coffea arabica and coffea racemosa (a different coffee “species”, if you will), the intention of this hybridization is to have a coffee with a lower than normal caffeine content. Most Aramosa coffees, due to the lowered caffeine content, taste sweet and floral with reduced bitterness. 


A variation on the Bourbon varietal, which is grown around the world and difficult to trace. Pink Bourbon has only recently gained its own label, and is sometimes known as Bourbon/Borbon Rosado, and even Orange Bourbon. It is a hybrid between red and yellow bourbon, and is difficult to grow due to the ambiguous ripeness stage (i.e. it is difficult to tell if it is an overripe yellow bourbon, or an underripe red bourbon). This specific varietal (or sub-varietal) is most commonly seen in Colombia (known as Pink Bourbon or Bourbon Rosado) and El Salvador (known as Orange Bourbon), and on the rarest occasions in Brazil.  


A hybridization of Bourbon and Typica, and sometimes called Bourbon Sidra. Sidra was found and named in Ecuador, and studies have more recently suggested it is also related to Ethiopian landrace/heirloom varietals. Sidra often has a green apple, or malic acidity, and usually has floral and fruit-forward flavours, resulting in a very complex cup when processed and roasted well. Sidra is most commonly grown in Ecuador and Colombia, and can also be found in Brazil.

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