Coffee Plant Varieties Guide

Coffee Plant Varieties Guide

When you drink coffee, you are drinking one of the many different kinds of species found all over the world. What you might not know is that there are over 60 coffee varieties.

A variety is a taxonomic hierarchy rank below species. Usually, coffees of different varieties have appearances that are different from each other.

However, they are able to easily hybridize with each other. Species, on the other hand, have individuals that can cross-breed to produce viable offsprings. The most common species and cultivars are below.

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Varities of Coffee Plants:


This is the most produced species, and it accounts for approximately 60% of the world’s total coffee production. It thrives under fair rainfall and a minimal amount of sunlight.

Arabica is indigenous to Egypt and its environs. It is very delicate and prone to diseases, if not properly taken care of. When grown under unfavorable conditions, it takes a lot of effort to keep them healthy.

You can tell if they are of high quality just from their appearances. High quality ones tend to have strong aromas and a bright body. When served cold, the quality of Arabica diminishes.

Cultivars Of Arabica Coffee

Cultivars are variant species that are as a result of human influence. There are two major cultivars of Arabica coffee. These are Typica and Bourbon.


This cultivar originated from Yemen, through India. It is tall, with bronze-tipped leaves. Its fruit and seeds are large. They are known to require intense care during cultivation, since they are prone to pets and diseases.

Also, they have low productivity, a factor that makes it less cultivated all over the globe. It has a striking similarity with the Java coffee we have today. In fact, it was spread in the 1700’s from Java Island.


This is more popular than Typica. It is said to have naturally grown on Ile De Bourbon Island, located in the Indian Ocean, to the east of Madagascar, to be specific.

They come in either red or yellow colors, and have broader leaves and bigger fruits than those of Typica.


There are uncountable hybrids of Arabica coffee in the world. The most popular ones are: S795 (planted in Southeast Asia), Sl34 and Ruiru 11 (planted in Kenya), and Pacamera and Cauti (both grown in Latin America).


Robusta comes in second, after Arabica, in terms of popularity. Unlike its counterpart, it is extremely tolerant to harsh climatic conditions. It does well under hot environments, and does not require much rain.

This species contains double the amount of caffeine in Arabica beans, and is less aromatic. When grown, Robusta only takes six to eight months to mature. It is grown in West Africa, Brazil, South East Asia, and other places.


Most of these hybrids were bred from Arabica. These include: Arabusta (which is grown in Africa), Java, Castimor, Hybrido de Timor, and Sarchimor (bred from the Timor hybrid).


Arabica and Robusta are the two main species of coffee grown all over the world. Both of them are grown commercially, and possess three striking differences: taste, climatic conditions (under which they thrive in), and economic differences.

Does Coffee Grow On Plants Or Trees?

Does Coffee Grow On Plants Or Trees?

Many people usually don’t have a clue when it comes to spotting the differences between a tree and a plant. Come to think of it, it almost sounds like the same thing. In fact, most people use the term plant to refer to a tree, and vice versa.

Typically, plants are short and closer to the ground, while trees are way taller. There have been numerous debates as to whether coffee plantations are filled with trees or plants.

Different people have different views on this. To get a clear insight, it is important to, first of all, understand what a coffee tree looks like.

What Does A Coffee Plant Or Tree Look Like?

Coffee is indigenous to the southern part of Africa and tropical Asia. However, it is now cultivated in close to 70 countries all over the world.

There are many species, with all of them possessing a woody, evergreen characteristic. They, however, vary in leaf size and shape. Most of them are oval or eliptical.

They also range in size from small shrubs to tall ones, up to about 30 feet. They produce beautiful white flowers, and red berries that contain coffee seeds.

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Are They Plants Or Trees?

This question has no direct answer to it. There are two determining factors as to whether to classify coffee as a tree or a plant. The most important of them is height.

In order to qualify as a tree, a plant should grow more than 20 feet tall. Most wild coffee plants usually grow to this height. Others could grow even taller.

The second determining factor is the size of their trunks. Plants can only qualify as trees if they have a trunk more than 3 inches wide. Wild coffee plants usually have trunks with a diameter close to that. For this reason, they pass as trees.

On the contrary, domestic coffee plants usually don’t grow to 20 feet in height. They are noticeably shorter than the wild coffee trees. They grow to a height of less than 20 feet, but not below 6 feet.

This is because they are usually pruned to facilitate easier harvesting. These do not qualify as trees. For the most part, domestic coffee plants qualify as plants, or shrubs to be specific. This is backed up by the fact that they usually grow as multi-stem plants.

What Are They Considered Around The World?

Different people have different views about coffee plants. Their views typically depend on the size of the coffee plants in their country. Most people or countries consider them as shrubs, more than trees.

Bottom Line

To classify coffee as a plant or tree, we majorly look at their height and trunk diameter, as well as the number of stems. Those that grow to a height of over 20 feet are classified as trees.

The majority of trees are wild coffee that grows in the forest. They also have trunks with a diameter of more than 3 inches wide.

Coffee plants, or shrubs usually have a height of more than 6 feet, but less than 20 feet. They also have multiple tiny stems. Most grown coffee usually qualifies as a shrub.

Coffee Ground Sizes & How They Affect Taste

Coffee Ground Sizes & How They Affect Taste

Making great coffee is not only determined by the brewing process, but also by the type of ground beans that are used. Different types of coffee use different ground sizes.

To get the perfect grind, you have to use the perfect grinding tool. Failure to get it right will result in an awful tasting coffee, even if you do everything manually to brew it perfectly.

This is because too much flavor will be lost, or not enough flavor will be extracted. If the ground coffee is under-extracted, the coffee will turn out weak and lack flavor.

If too much is extracted, the coffee will either be too bitter, or not have a distinctively smooth coffee taste. Some of the common grind sizes for different types of coffee are included below.

Coffee Grinds and Grounds Sizes:

1. Coarse Grinds

Coarse ground coffee is best for French press and percolator coffee types. They have large particles that are similar to sea salt, which is why the two have often been compared.

This category also consists of extra coarse grinds and medium coarse grind. The very coarse grind is ideal for cowboy coffee or cold brewed coffee, while the medium coarse is great for a drip machine. The former has larger particles than sea salt, while the latter can be compared to rough sand.

2. Medium Grind

With particles the size of dry sand, this ground coffee is the easiest to use. It doesn’t create a mess when being scooped, making it easier to place in a filter.

This makes it the perfect choice for those learning to brew coffee for the first time. It is most ideal for drip and vacuum coffees.

This type of grind is subdivided into the medium fine grind that has smaller coffee sizes. This size is still bigger than the finely ground, and can be used to make Aeropress coffee.

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3. Fine Grind

Mainly used to make espresso and Moka pot coffees, this grind has particles that are finer than table salt. It is the most common grind that requires attention when grinding.

Due to the size, grinding this coffee should be done in small amounts to ensure consistency. It should be closely monitored, so that the grinding isn’t overdone.

Very fine grinds fall under this category, and is used to make Turkish coffee. The size of this grind is comparable to the size of wheat flour. It produces some of the strongest coffee one can drink.

Coffee Grinding Tools

While some grinding machines use blades, others use burrs. The latter group is the most recommended, since it is easier to control, and it brings out the best grinds.

Burr grinders ensure uniformity in the grind, bringing forth consistent coffee. Even though they are more expensive than blade grinders, they are worth investing in.


Always use the correct grind for the desired type of coffee. For instance, never use medium coarse grounds or extremely coarse grounds to make French Press coffee. Stick to coarsely ground coffee to get the best taste.

For espresso coffee, use fine grounds to avoid awful tasting coffee. Using extra fine grounds will prevent water from seeping through, while coarse/medium grounds will allow too much water to pass through without picking up any flavors.