Types of coffee varieties in India: Exploring the Diversity!

Delving into the world of coffee is like embarking on a sensory journey. The intricate flavours that dance on your palate are a result of a rich history and the diverse types of coffee varieties in India.

Types of coffee varieties in India: Exploring the Diversity!

The magic of coffee flavour begins at the very roots – the coffee plant itself. The two primary varieties, Arabica and Robusta, showcase distinct characteristics. Arabica, often lauded for its nuanced notes and mild acidity, thrives in higher elevations, while Robusta, with its bold and robust profile, flourishes in lower altitudes.

The flavours are further influenced by the terroir - the specific environmental factors where the coffee is grown. Factors such as soil composition, altitude, and climate contribute to the unique taste profiles. A coffee bean from the misty hills of Coorg in Southern India might boast floral and fruity notes, while a bean from the Western Ghats of Chikmagalur could surprise with hints of spice and earthiness.

While coffee's origins are traced back to Ethiopia, its journey in India is a captivating tale of intrigue and cultivation. The credit for introducing coffee to India goes to Baba Budan, a legendary saint who smuggled seven coffee beans from Yemen in the 17th century. These beans were planted in the Chikmagalur region of Karnataka, marking the beginning of India's tryst with coffee cultivation.

Over the centuries, coffee plantations expanded across the hills of Coorg, the Western Ghats, and beyond. The British, recognizing the potential of Indian coffee, played a pivotal role in fostering its cultivation during the colonial era.

Today, India stands as one of the world's significant coffee producers, renowned for its diverse and high-quality coffee varieties. So, in this article we’ll look into all the varieties of coffee Beans grown in India.

Types of Coffee Varieties grown in India

Arabica coffee

Arabica coffee, celebrated for its sophisticated flavour profile and aromatic allure, takes coffee enthusiasts on a journey through distinct regions of India. Each locale contributes its unique touch, resulting in a diverse array of Arabica coffee varieties that stand out for their individual characteristics. Let's explore these exquisite Arabica coffee varieties in India:

  1. Coorg Arabica Coffee: Nestled in the lush hills of Coorg in Karnataka, this Arabica variety captivates with its mild acidity and delightful combination of floral and fruity notes. The cool climate and elevation of Coorg create the perfect conditions for producing coffee beans that embody the essence of this picturesque region.
  2. Chikmagalur Arabica Coffee: Chikmagalur, known as the birthplace of Indian coffee, offers an Arabica variety that is synonymous with tradition and excellence. The coffee from this region boasts a well-balanced flavour profile, featuring hints of chocolate, spice, and a subtle acidity that lingers on the palate.
  3. Araku Valley Arabica Coffee: The Eastern Ghats harbour the Araku Valley, where Arabica coffee thrives under the shades of lush forests. Araku Valley Arabica is characterised by its unique blend of floral and fruity notes, creating a cup that is both vibrant and distinctive.
  4. Baba Budangiris Arabica Coffee: Named after the legendary saint Baba Budan, this Arabica variety has a rich history. Grown in the Baba Budan giri hills of Karnataka, the coffee beans exhibit a nuanced flavour profile, featuring a delightful combination of citrusy acidity and a hint of nuttiness.
  5. Anamalais Coffee: Hailing from the Anamalai Hills in Tamil Nadu, Anamalais Coffee is revered for its bright acidity and complex flavour profile. The beans from this region are carefully cultivated, resulting in a cup that is both lively and rich, making it a favourite among discerning coffee connoisseurs.
  6. Mysore Nuggets: The Mysore region contributes to the Arabica landscape with its prized Mysore Nuggets. Known for their well-defined acidity and balanced sweetness, these coffee beans embody the distinctive characteristics of the Mysore region, creating a cup that is both refined and memorable.

Kent

Kent coffee owes its name to the pioneering efforts of Mr. L.P. Kent, an English planter who unearthed this remarkable variety in 1920. Mr. Kent was deeply engaged in a selection program aimed at cultivating a coffee plant resistant to leaf rust, a persistent challenge in coffee cultivation. His discovery of Kent coffee marked a significant milestone in the quest for resilient coffee varieties.

Kent coffee's journey began in the verdant hills of Mysore, where it was meticulously nurtured and developed. Its robustness and ability to withstand adverse conditions caught the attention of coffee growers far beyond Indian borders.

In the 1920s, Kent coffee found its way to the shores of Kenya and Tanzania, where its survival capacity proved invaluable in challenging climates.
Kent coffee is a proud member of the Typica family, renowned for its classic and distinguished traits. Within this esteemed lineage, Kent coffee stands out for its resilience and unique flavour profile, setting it apart as a cherished variety among coffee aficionados.

Selection 795

Launched in India during the 1940s, Selection 795 stands as a testament to the continuous pursuit of excellence in the world of coffee. This unique hybrid, born from the union of Arabica and Robusta, was meticulously chosen by the Balehonnur Coffee Research Station in India, marking a significant milestone in the country's coffee cultivation.

Selection 795's lineage, a fusion of Arabica and Robusta, showcases the ingenuity of coffee researchers at Balehonnur. This hybrid creation aimed to bring forth a coffee variety that could combine the best attributes of both parent plants. The result is a coffee bean that carries the legacy of Arabica's nuanced flavours and Robusta's robust characteristics.

Beyond its Indian roots, Selection 795 has found widespread popularity in many regions of Southeast Asia. The adaptability of this hybrid has made it a preferred choice among coffee growers and enthusiasts alike. Its ability to thrive in diverse climates and elevations contributes to its allure in various Southeast Asian coffee-producing regions.

Selection 795 is celebrated for its bold beans, which impart a diverse and captivating flavour profile. With notes ranging from spicy undertones to rich chocolaty nuances, each cup tells a unique story. The complexity of flavours adds a layer of sophistication, making Selection 795 a favoured choice for those seeking a multi-dimensional coffee experience.

One of the distinguishing features of Selection 795 is its high yield, making it an economically valuable variety for coffee farmers. The combination of productivity and exceptional flavours elevates it to the status of an exotic variety, sought after by those who appreciate the finer nuances of coffee.

Selection 9

Born from a harmonious blend of Tafarikela, an Ethiopian Arabica variety, and Hibrido-de-Timor, Selection 9 emerges as a remarkable hybrid, weaving together diverse influences to create a coffee variety of exceptional quality and adaptability.

Selection 9's unique character unfolds through its parentage—a fusion of Tafarikela, an Arabica variety originating from Ethiopia, and Hibrido-de-Timor. This heritage not only brings together the diverse flavours of Ethiopian Arabica but also incorporates the resilience inherited from Hibrido-de-Timor, known for its ability to withstand challenging growing conditions.

Selection 9 presents itself with tall plants adorned with drooping branches and dark bronze leaves, creating a visually striking presence in coffee plantations. These characteristics, a testament to its genetic makeup, contribute to the overall allure of Selection 9 in coffee cultivation.

One of the remarkable traits of Selection 9 is its adaptability, enabling it to thrive even in drought-like conditions. The resilience inherited from Hibrido-de-Timor ensures that Selection 9 can withstand challenging environmental factors, making it a reliable and robust choice for coffee farmers facing varying climates.

The influence of Tafarikela, the Ethiopian Arabica variety, adds a layer of sophistication to Selection 9. This hybrid benefits from the superior aroma and quality inherent in Tafarikela, creating a cup of coffee that delights the senses with its richness and complexity.

The accolades speak volumes about Selection 9's exceptional qualities. In 2002, it clinched the Fine Cup Award for the best Arabica variety at the Flavor of India Cupping Competition. This recognition underscores the superior taste and craftsmanship that Selection 9 brings to the forefront of the coffee world.

Catimor

Renowned as Cauvery, Catimor stands as a testament to the fusion of heritage and innovation, intertwining the flavours of Caturra and Hibrido-de-Timor to create a distinctive hybrid of Arabica and Robusta. With its high yield, leaf rust resistance, and a flavour profile reminiscent of Bourbon, Catimor has carved its niche in the world of coffee.

Catimor, affectionately known as Cauvery, emerges from the crossbreeding of Caturra and Hybrido-de-Timor. This unique combination imparts Catimor with the genetic richness of both Arabica and Robusta, setting the stage for a coffee variety that embodies the best of both worlds.

Catimor inherits its high yield and superior quality characteristics from the Caturra lineage. The infusion of Caturra's attributes ensures that Catimor is not only prolific in production but also maintains a standard of excellence in cup quality. Additionally, Catimor benefits from the leaf rust resistance endowed by the robust Hibrido-de-Timor, making it resilient in the face of common coffee plant challenges.

Catimor thrives in low-lying regions with ample natural rainfall. Widely cultivated in such environments, it adapts to the conditions to deliver a robust performance in coffee plantations. The terroir, or specific environmental conditions, plays a crucial role in shaping Catimor's flavour profile, contributing to its unique characteristics.

Catimor unfolds a flavour profile that bears a striking resemblance to the revered Bourbon variety. With brisk acidic notes that enliven the palate and a sweet aftertaste that lingers, Catimor presents a sensory experience that captivates coffee enthusiasts. The fusion of Arabica and Robusta in Catimor results in a harmonious balance of flavours, making it a delightful choice for those seeking complexity in their coffee cup.

Robusta

Robusta coffee, known for its bold and robust flavour profile, takes centre stage in the world of coffee, with distinct varieties like Monsooned Malabar Robusta and Wayanad Robusta coffee standing out as exemplars of this unique coffee experience.

Robusta coffee, in general, is celebrated for its boldness and richness. The beans are known for their higher caffeine content and distinct flavour profile, often characterised by a deep, earthy taste with nutty or chocolaty undertones. This variety is particularly valued for its ability to add body and a strong character to coffee blends.

  1. Monsooned Malabar Robusta Coffee: Originating from the lush coastal region of Malabar in India, Monsooned Malabar Robusta Coffee is a captivating variant of Robusta. The beans undergo a unique monsooning process, where they are exposed to the coastal monsoon winds, absorbing the moisture-laden air. This transformative journey results in a distinctive flavour characterised by earthy notes, low acidity, and a full-bodied richness. Monsooned Malabar Robusta stands as a testament to the impact of terroir and meticulous processing on the final cup.
  2. Wayanad Robusta Coffee: Hailing from the Wayanad region nestled in the Western Ghats, Wayanad Robusta coffee is a true representation of Robusta's adaptability to diverse terrains. The elevation and climate of Wayanad contribute to the unique characteristics of this Robusta variant. It boasts a bold and strong flavour profile, with hints of chocolate and a pronounced bitterness. Wayanad Robusta coffee exemplifies the robust nature of Robusta beans, making it a favoured choice for those who appreciate a hearty and intense coffee experience.

Also Read: Coffee Wars: Arabica vs Robusta [What's the Difference]

Selection 274

Selection 274, originating from a Sri Lankan collection, holds a significant place in the world of coffee, particularly as the first robusta selection released by the Indian Coffee Research Station in the 1940s. With its robust growth, distinctive round and bold beans, and a flavour profile boasting hints of chocolate, caramel, nuts, and spices, Selection 274 is a true embodiment of strength and sophistication.

The roots of Selection 274 trace back to Sri Lanka, where it was part of a curated collection. In the 1940s, the Indian Coffee Research Station recognized its potential and released it as the inaugural robusta selection. This marked the beginning of its journey into the coffee landscapes of India, capturing the attention of cultivators and coffee enthusiasts alike.

Selection 274 grows into sturdy bushes, creating a visually striking presence in coffee plantations. The beans, characterised by their roundness and boldness, stand out in both appearance and flavour. This robusta variant's resilience and adaptability contribute to its success as a sought-after choice among coffee growers.

The flavour profile of Selection 274 is a harmonious symphony of tastes. With a foundation of robusta strength, each sip unveils subtle notes of chocolate, the sweetness of caramel, the richness of nuts, and a hint of spices. This intricate blend of flavours adds depth and complexity, making Selection 274 a delightful choice for those seeking a Robusta coffee experience with nuanced undertones.

C x R - Congensis into Robusta

Congensis into Robusta, also known as C x R, a hybrid born from the union of Robusta and Coffea Congensis, presents a unique and nuanced coffee experience. With smaller bushes, bold beans, and a distinctive flavour profile, C x R stands out as a testament to the art of hybridization, blending the robust qualities of Robusta with the refined attributes of Coffea Congensis.

In contrast to the sprawling nature of many Robusta plants, C x R boasts smaller bushes. This compact growth pattern adds visual intrigue to coffee plantations. The beans, bold and full-bodied, speak to the robust influence of Robusta, creating a visually striking presence and promising a robust flavour experience.

The flavour journey of C x R unfolds with each sip. The beans, being bold and full-bodied, contribute to a cup of coffee that is rich and satisfying. With a low-acid profile, C x R offers a gentle and smooth experience on the palate. The intense aroma that emanates from these beans adds a layer of sensory delight, creating an overall coffee experience that is both inviting and captivating.

C x R culminates in a soft and neutral cup, delivering a delicate balance of flavours. This characteristic makes it an appealing choice for those who appreciate a milder coffee experience without compromising on the full-bodied richness that the beans provide.

In conclusion, the world of coffee in India is a tapestry woven with the threads of history, innovation, and diverse varieties. From the subtle elegance of Arabica to the bold richness of Robusta, each coffee variety tells a unique story.

As we savour the flavours of Coorg, Chikmagalur, and beyond, let's appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into cultivating these exquisite coffees. In every cup, there's not just coffee but a tale of passion, tradition, and the relentless pursuit of perfection.

References:

1. GI Certification for five varieties of Indian coffee (pib.gov.in)
2. Flavour of India Fine Cup Award E-auction of Winning Coffees (hcikl.gov.in)

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