Is coffee same as coffee?
Well, no. There are roughly 124 different plant species belonging to the same family or genus “coffea”. Out of those, the most commercial ones are Arabica and Canephora (also known as Robusta).
The Robusta coffee is well known for its strong and bitter flavor and is usually found in warm climate zones. It is a very tough plant as it grows in high temperatures and develops high immunity against insects and plagues, hence the name Robusta. This sort of coffee is mostly used in coffee flavored products or espresso blends and is less likely to be used for brewing coffee drinks on its own. It has just a handful of variety als ( e.g. Nana, Apoata, etc.) but are not as relevant as the arabica varieties.
The other species, Arabica, has a milder and sweeter flavor than Robusta. It grows ideally in higher lands with lower temperatures. This sort of coffee is more vulnerable to insects and plagues. Therefore, some of its varieti als have been mixed with Robusta to increase resistance against many natural threats. This species is the center of attention of the specialty coffee world as its more accentuated flavor gives room for a huge amount of different aroma notes.
Illustration of COFFEA arabica L. 106 (Coffea arabica L., Arabian coffee) Köhler's medicinal plants in lifelike illustrations with brief explanatory texts: Atlas on the Pharmacopoea germanica
Now here is where it goes down to the fine details...
Some of the most known Arabica varieties are.
Typica: One of the most traditional coffee varieties but rarely used nowadays because of its low yield and vulnerability to diseases. Still used in some regions of Peru. Same as Bourbon, it can give a very good coffee quality.
Bourbon: Receives its name from the former Bourbon island (now La Reunion) where it was introduced by French migrants. In terms of vulnerability and quality, it can be located between Geisha and Caturr a . It has yielded less than Caturr a and therefore lost importance over the years.
Caturra: En evolution of bourbon. The most widely used varietal in Colombia but also used in Peru and Guatemala. One of its biggest benefits is that trees grow smaller and are easier for handpicking. This varietal is vulnerable to heavy plagues (ie“roya”) and plantations have diminished drastically in the recent years.
Geisha: This is one of the most vulnerable varietals in the Arabica species, which complicates harvesting and reduces yield drastically. Up to half of the plants may not survive until the harvest. In addition, Geisha requires a high altitude with stable temperature and humidity. However, it has a fine sweet taste and a rich aroma spectrum. For these reasons, it yields one of the most expensive coffees.