Varieties Of Coffee

Types of Coffee

There are basically two types of coffee consumed most commonly worldwide - Arabica and Robusta - that grow from the two main species of coffee plants: Coffee Arabica and Coffee Robusta respectively. Although there are numerous varieties of coffee plants, Arabica and Robusta are the most important from a commercial standpoint.

Arabica Coffee

Arabica coffees (or Arabicas) have a delicate flavour and balanced aroma coupled with a sharp and sweet taste. They have about half the amount of caffeine compared to Robustas. Arabicas are harvested between November to January, and are typically grown on higher altitudes ranging from 600 to 2000 metres in cool, moisture-rich and subtropical weather conditions. They require nutrient-rich soil to be able to conform to the highest international coffee standards.

Four popular varieties of Arabica coffee are:
  • Kents Coffee
  • S.795 Coffee
  • Cauvery Coffee
  • Sln.9 (Selection 9) Coffee

Robusta Coffee

Robusta coffees (or Robustas) have twice the level of caffeine compared to Arabicas. Robusta coffees have a very strong taste, a grainy essence and an aftertaste somewhat similar to that of peanuts. It is possible to grow this variety at lower heights. Robusta coffee plants are harvested from December to February, and can better withstand the onslaught of unfriendly weather and plant pests. Robustas have a better yield and take less time to bear fruit than Arabicas. Although the Arabica variety is preferred in international markets, high quality Robustas are also highly sought after in espressos due to their strong taste and the crema1 that they help generate.

Two popular varieties of Robusta coffee are:
  • S.274 Coffee
  • CxR Coffee

Important Coffee Varieties1 – By Plant Type

Kents Coffee

Kents – the earliest variety of Arabica coffee – was selected by an English planter with the same name during the 1920s. It remained popular with planters until the 1940s due to the lower susceptibility of this particular coffee plant to rust. Although it is currently grown in a few areas only, Kents coffee is known for its exceptional cup quality.

S.795 Coffee

The most popular variety of Arabica coffee in India, S.795 was launched in the 1940s. The S.795 coffee plant is known for its superior quality, high yields, bold beans and better relative tolerance to leaf rust. The S.795 coffee plant was developed using the Kents Arabica coffee plant, known for its top quality. A widely cultivated Arabica variety, it has a balanced cup with the subtle flavour notes of Mocha coffee.

Cauvery Coffee

Also known as Catimor, the Cauvery coffee plant is a hybrid descendent of Caturra (a natural mutant of the high quality Bourbon variety) and Hybrido-de-Timor. The Cauvery coffee plant inherited the superior quality attributes of Caturra and the tough resistance of Hybrido-de-Timor.

Sln.9 Coffee (Selection 9 Coffee)

The Selection 9 coffee plant is a hybrid between Tafarikela (an Ethiopian Arabica collection) and the tough and resistant Hybrido-de-Timor. It boasts of all the superior cup quality traits of Tafarikela, and won the Fine Cup Award for best Arabica at the Flavour of India – Cupping Competition 2002 organised by Coffee Board of India.

Important Coffee Varieties – By Region

13 different varieties of Indian coffee can be identified based on their origins.

  • Major Arabica producing regions include Anamalais, Bababudangiris, Biligiris, Araku Valley, Brahmaputra, Shevaroys, and Pulneys
  • Major Robusta producing regions include Wayanaad (largest producer of Robusta) and Travancore. In addition, Coorg, Chikmaglur, Nilgiris and Manjarabad are famous for both the Arabica and Robusta varieties.