Coffee Facts

“It’s all about the bean” at Electric City Roasting Co., and with that in mind, we have prepared a few resources for those enthusiasts who are as passionate about coffee as we are! Check back often, as we are engaged in an ongoing effort to branch out our resources to accommodate all of your coffee needs.

Origins & Varietals

Coffee, being an agricultural product that takes on the characteristics of its environment and the varietal grown, has an immensely pleasing range of diversity. This results in specialty coffees of differing flavors, caffeine content, body or “mouth-feel”, and acidity. Because of this complexity, the team at Electric City Roasting has put together this brief outline of common coffee origins and varietals for your knowledge.

Africa

  • Ethiopia
  • Kenya
  • Tanzania

Asia

  • Indonesia
  • Papua New Guinea

Latin America

  • Guatemala
  • Panama
  • Costa Rica
  • Nicaragua
  • El Salvador

South America

  • Colombia
  • Brazil
  • Peru

Common Coffee Varietals

Typica – Typica 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 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.  

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

Geisha – Geisha variety (or Gesha), is grown in the highlands of Boquete in Chiriquí Province, Panama. It is highly sought after at auction, achieving high prices. Originally from the village of Gesha, Ethiopia, it was planted in the 1950’s as a rust resistant crop and rediscovered in the early 2000’s.

Sumatra Arabica – Sumatra Arabica is traditionally grown on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. It is known as a dark – but not darkly roasted – medium body coffee with a low acidity and a strong, almost bittersweet taste. Sumatra tends to have an earthy, fruity taint to it and can be an ideal choice as a dessert coffee.

Tasting & Aromas

Enjoying coffee is all about tasting and smelling the lush aromas. However, the ability to identify relationships such as chocolate or caramel requires an abundance of knowledge and practice.

Coffee Cupping

Coffee cupping, or simply put, coffee tasting, is the art of acknowledging and identifying the various tastes and aromas of coffee in its dried and brewed form. The guidelines for this process are outlined by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA). “Coffee cupping” is defined by the SCAA as a method of systematically evaluating the aroma and taste of coffee beans. The process, which is an exact procedure growers and purchasers use to determine what can be considered specialty coffee, is centered around the defining characteristics of coffee – fragrance, aroma, overall taste, aftertaste, acidity, and body.