What Are Coffee Varieties?

Coffee varieties refer to the different subspecies or cultivars of the coffee plant. Just as there is a wide variety of apples, grapes, tomatoes, etc., there is also a vast variety of coffee plants. Some are old and unique, while others were developed, planned, and cross-bred for agricultural reasons, and some just mutated over time to become their own distinct variety. Each of these varieties has distinct genetic characteristics, which influence factors such as flavour profile, yield, disease resistance, and growing conditions. 


Why Do Varieties Matter in the World of Coffee?

Coffee varieties play a crucial role in the coffee industry. Coffee growers select varieties based on factors such as climate, altitude, soil conditions, ability to withstand pests and diseases, and market demand, aiming to produce high-quality beans. As mentioned above, varieties are subspecies of coffee plants, and two species dominate the coffee industry: Arabica and Robusta.


What Are the Differences Between Arabica and Robusta Coffee?

Coffea Arabica 

  • Arabica is the most widely consumed type of coffee worldwide, accounting for approximately 70% of global coffee consumption. It is also the only type of coffee used in your favourite FiXX blends. This type of coffee is known for its high-quality flavours and aromas. Coffea Arabica is the earliest cultivated species of Coffea and is grown at high altitudes between 1,300-1,500masl. It prefers moderate temperatures of 15-24C.

Coffea Canephora (Robusta)

  • As the name suggests, Robusta is the hardier and more robust of the two species, as it is more resistant to disease and parasites. It can be grown in lower regions, withstanding higher temperatures, making cultivation easier and cheaper. However, the Coffea Canephora yields a lower-quality bean with a more bitter taste, albeit with a higher caffeine content than Arabica. Robusta is primarily used in instant coffees or blends. 


What Distinguishes the Flavour Profiles of Different Coffee Varieties?

Although the cherry surrounding the coffee bean will vary from plant to plant, the fruit's role in the final flavour profile of the brewed coffee is small (depending on the process; see below). This shouldn't be surprising, as we're more interested in the seed within than the fruit surrounding it. The biggest influences of flavour are as follows:



Processing is all about drying the coffee beans in preparation for roasting. This can be done in various ways, with some regions and countries having unique methods. But it predominantly falls into one of three categories: washed, natural, or honey.


  • Natural: This method will showcase the influence of the coffee cherry fruit. After harvest, the cherries are left to dry on raised beds or patios. During the drying period, the beans absorb the cherry's flavour, giving coffee that is processed this way with potent, boozey, and fruity notes.
  • Washed: In this method, all the fruit and mucilage are removed before the beans are sent to dry. This means coffees processed this way must absorb all its flavours during the growing period. The washed method showcases the integral role of good farming in coffee production.
  • Honey: This method is almost like a bridge between natural and washed processing. In honey processing, most of the fruit is removed before drying, but the mucilage is left on. This makes the beans very sticky and results in a distinct sweetness. Hence the name.


You can read more about why processing is essential in our blog here



Ultimately, no matter the variety, if the coffee plant is poorly grown, it will only produce poor coffee. When deciding which variety to grow, a farmer must consider their altitude, the climate, the plant's resistance to disease, and market demands, to name just a few. From seedling to harvest matury for almost all coffee varieties is about seven years; getting this decision correct is crucial.


The role of farmers in quality coffee production cannot be overstated, but it is often ignored. This is why we at FiXX are happy to support World Coffee Research (WCR), whose mission is to secure the future of coffee production. Their mission is clear; grow, protect, and enhance supplies of quality coffee while improving the livelihoods of the families who produce it. You can read more about the incredible work WCR do here in this blog.



All coffee varieties grow between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, where the sun shines directly overhead for long periods. The plant's growth and the cup's resulting flavour are influenced by many factors. The farm's elevation, rainfall, and shade the plant receives all contribute to its characteristics. Even the surrounding environment and neighbouring plantations can influence the taste of the coffee bean. Essentially, each farm becomes its own micro-climate, and much like wine vineyards, the same fruit grown in different locations can produce wildly different flavour profiles. 



The same variety of coffee expertly grown in the same region and processed the same way will taste different depending on the level to which it is roasted. I like to use the analogy of a marshmallow on a campfire. A short time over the flame will leave you with a flavour sensation of the sweet marshmallow taste combined with the caramelised sugar on the outer coating. Too long on the fire and the sugars will start to burn. You will still have the sweet marshmallow taste, but the burnt sugar's intense taste will accompany it.


What Are the Most Popular Coffee Varieties? 

By some estimates, there are over 10,000 different varieties of coffee. So these will be just a few, each used in one of your favourite FiXX coffees.


  • Typica: Typica is one of the most famous and genetically important coffee varieties. It is a tall variety characterised by very low production, susceptibility to major diseases, and good cup quality. Found in FiXX Classic.
  • Bourbon: Bourbon is a classic Arabica coffee variety known for its excellent cup quality. It is one of the most genetically important coffee varieties, alongside Typica. Found in FiXX Lisbon
  • Mundo Novo: Mundo Novo is a hybrid Arabica coffee variety developed in Brazil by crossing Typica and Bourbon. It is known for its high productivity, disease resistance, and adaptability to various growing conditions. Found in FiXX Cubano
  • Caturra: Caturra is a mutation of Bourbon that originated in Brazil. It is prized for its compact size, high yield, and excellent cup quality. Found in FiXX Seattle.
  • Catuai: Catuai is a hybrid Arabica coffee variety developed in Brazil by crossing Mundo Novo and Caturra. It is known for its compact size, high yield, and resilience to pests and diseases. Found in FiXX Decaf.
  • Catimor: Catimor is a hybrid Arabica coffee variety developed by crossing Timor Hybrid and Caturra. It was created to combine the disease resistance of Robusta coffee with the desirable cup qualities of Arabica. Found in FiXX Organic.


You can read the history of some of these varieties here in this FiXX blog.

A spread of ripening coffee cherries