Selective Breeding

What is Selective Coffee Plant Breeding?

The development of coffee plant varietals, cultivars, hybrids, strains, etc., with the goal of maximizing economic return by conferring upon the new varietal ideal characteristics that may include resistance to coffee diseases or pests, drought resistance, pleasing flavors or aromas, greater growth and flowering, production (yield), tolerance to different elevations, soils, or climates, improved bean shape or size, quality of the brewed cup of coffee, caffeine content, or any other desirable quality.

How many coffee plant varietals are there, and why is Selective Breeding Used?

While there are about two dozen cultivars and hybrids of Arabica in cultivation around the world (see Coffee Plant Varietals), there are also hybrid forms of coffee plants that cross Robusta (Coffea canephora var. robusta) with Arabica varietals with the goal of conferring disease resistance and “robust” plant qualities on the Arabica varietal or conferring desirable taste and aromatic qualities on the Robusta varietal.

The Sarchimor Coffee Plant Varietal

For example, the Sarchimor coffee plant varietal is a hybrid between the Timor varietal and the Costa Rican Villa Sarchi varietal (Coffea arabica var. villa sarchi).

Due to traits inherited from the Timor varietal (a hybrid of Coffea canephora var. robusta  and Coffea arabica), the Sarchimor varietal has a significant resistance to the stem borer as well as to coffee disease coffee leaf rust (Hemileia vastatrix).

The Catimor and Arabusta Coffee Plant Varietals and Icatu Hybrids

The Catimor coffee plant varietal (Coffea arabica var. catimor) is a cross between Timor and the Caturra varietal (Coffea arabica var. Caturra). Catimor coffee plants are known for their resistance to coffee rust and produce among the highest yields of commercial coffee plants.

The varietal Arabusta, grown in Africa, is another interspecific hybrid of Robusta and Arabica.

Icatu hybrids are created through repeated backcrossing of hybrids of Arabica and Robusta with the coffee plant cultivars Mundo Novo (Coffea arabica var. mundo novo) and Caturra (Coffea arabica var. caturra).

Coffee and Espresso Brewing Tips

For detailed definitions see the Espresso Coffee Guide’s Coffee and Espresso Glossary. To read detailed specialty coffee flavor profiles see Gourmet Coffees and Espresso Drink Recipes.

For step-by-step instructions on making espresso drinks see Pulling A Perfect Espresso Shot and How to make Lattes and Cappuccinos.

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