Coffee Varieties: Caturra

Coffee varieties are the subspecies of coffee that occur by natural selection and by selective breeding. Disease resistance, yield and flavor vary from variety to variety. Variety or breed selection is critical to the planter as he or she must pick the optimal variety for altitude, sun or shade, soil conditions and climate. Regarding coffee varieties here are a couple of terms:

Variety: A variety is a smaller group than a subspecies and a larger group than a form. A variety has most of the characteristics of the species but differs in specific ways.

Cultivar: This is a cultivated variety and is developed using agricultural breeding techniques. The coffee in your cup is most likely a cultivar. Two common cultivars are Bourbon and Typica.


The coffee that we want to look at is the caturra variety. Caturra evolved from the Bourbon cultivar near the town of Caturra, Brazil in the early 20th century. Caturra has a higher yield than the bourbon variety. It matures quickly providing coffee beans two years after planting. The caturra plant is short and more disease resistant than older Arabica-based varieties.

Where is Caturra Grown?

In the Colombian coffee growing axis, the Eje Cafetero, growers plant caturra at around three to four thousand feet on much gentler slopes than where more traditional Arabica varieties are grown. The plant does well in nearly full sun although it is commonly planted interspersed with plantain. In the photo caturra is planted in the foreground at around 3,500 feet and larger traditional Arabica varieties are planted on the higher slopes in the background.

What Does Caturra Look Like?

Here is a photo of a caturra coffee farm. The plants are short and planted in full sun albeit in the mountains where there are lots of clouds.

Regular or Organic?

Caturra refers to the plant variety and not to whether it produces healthy organic coffee or regular. Organic coffee certification requires that the coffee farmer follow at set of strict rules but he or she can produce the caturra variety or any other as an organic.

The soil in which organic coffee is grown must have been verified as free from prohibited substances for at least three years. In addition there must be distinct boundaries between land on which organic coffee is grown and land where pesticides, herbicides, and prohibited chemical fertilizers are used. This guarantees that drift of substances sprayed or otherwise applied on adjacent land will not contaminate the organic plot of land. Organic coffee certification includes the adherence to a specific and verifiable plan for all practices and procedures from planting to crop maintenance, to harvest, de-husking, bagging, transport, roasting, packaging, and final transport. Along the way procedures must be in place at every step to insure that there is no contamination of the healthy organic coffee produced in pristine soil with regular coffee produced on soil exposed to herbicides, pesticides, and organic fertilizers.

So, if you are interested in coffee varieties check out caturra and watch here for information on more varieties of Arabica coffee.

Leave a Reply