Types of Coffee Grown in Colombia

We frequently write about how Colombia is a dominant producer of arabica coffee as opposed to robusta and commonly ranks as first in the world, always vying with Brazil for first place. However, there are many types of coffee grown in Colombia. Most are varieties of arabica but there are also coffees like Geisha grown in the western Andes mountain in the area generally referred to as the Colombian Cafetero. The point is that if you are interested in coffee from Colombia you have many options.

Maragogype Coffee from Colombia

Maragogype or “elephant coffee beans” are a natural mutation of typica coffee that occurred on a coffee farm in Brazil. This coffee produces a bean larger than the supremo size. It is also rather rare. That is because of two factors. One is that the Maragogype coffee plant is very susceptible to coffee leaf rust coffee berry disease, and nematode infestations. The other is that it requires extremely fertile soil to produce the best quality coffee. When soil quality is average or low this results in what has been called a coffee “without much flavor.” The combination of difficulty in getting an ideal crop with this variety and the risk of crop damage from plant diseases and pests means that there are just a few producers of Maragogype coffee in Colombia.

Pacamara Coffee from Colombia

Pacamara coffee was developed in El Salvador and introduced in 1958. It is the result of cross breeding Pacas and Maragogype coffees. Pacas gets its name from the Pacas family in El Salvador on whose coffee farm a spontaneous mutation of Bourbon coffee resulted in a coffee with more body and less sweetness than is common with Bourbon. The Pacas plant produced a high yield and was very hardy in the face of variations in the weather. They cross bred this coffee with Maragogype coffee with the goal of increasing the yield of the Maragogype plants. Although this effort was somewhat successful it still left growers with a coffee that is susceptible to coffee diseases and pests and reliant on excellent fertility for producing the desired quality of coffee. Thus this type of coffee is grown rarely in Colombia.

Marsellesa Coffee from Colombia

Marsellesa coffee is one of the attempts to achieve resistance to coffee leaf rust by cross breeding with rust resistant coffee strains from the island of Timor in the East Indies. This coffee comes from a cross between a Bourbon mutation called Villa Sarchi and the Timor variety. The flavor and aroma comes from the Bourbon mutation and the disease resistance comes from the East Indies variety. This type of coffee was developed in Costa Rica in an attempt to fight left rust but can be found in Colombia in small quantities as well.

Leaf Rust Resistant Arabica Coffees Developed in Colombia

Much more common in Colombia than the types mentioned so far are Tabi, Castillo, and Colombia coffee varieties. All of these were developed in Colombia by cross breeding high quality arabica coffees with leaf rust resistant East Indies strains. Because of their higher resistance to coffee leaf rust these coffees are planted at lower altitudes in the 3,000 to 5,000 foot range while traditional arabica coffee is increasingly planted at higher and higher altitudes.

Geisha Coffee from Colombia

This coffee comes directly from Ethiopia as opposed to arabica coffees that made their way into Yemen a thousand years ago and from there across the world. Geisha or Gesha comes from the name for the part of Ethiopia in the Amharic language and has nothing to do with Japanese Geisha performers. The coffee has unique flavor and aroma. More Geisha is not grown because it is a more delicate plant than standard arabica and much more delicate that robusta. Because it can produce an excellent coffee, Geisha commands an extremely high price for the few growers who work with it. Geisha coffee is just starting to be introduced into Colombia at this point.

Leave a Reply