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Historical Origins of Arabica

Endemic C.arabica species are now very few in Ethiopia, while most existing populations of Arrabica coffee plants are the result of mixed hybridization. Only in Ethiopia can one find native Arabica trees in the rainforests of the southwestern highlands of Ethiopia or across the borders of neighboring countries such as southeastern Sudan and northern Kenya. Coffee varieties that grow in the forests of Ethiopia, have undergone a process of cultivation by humans, they are often very high quality but are very sensitive to pests and diseases.


During the 16th century, the Arabica coffee plant was brought from Ethiopia to Yemen. Then, in the 17th - 18th centuries, Arabica coffee plants in general (because each Bourbon and Typica varieties have their own journeys) dispersed all over the world, In which we can summarize as follows: :


The Arabica Typica coffee plant, brought by the Dutch from Yemen to Batavia, now known as Jakarta, in Indonesia, and then back to the Netherlands, before being brought by this empire (and also by the French) to Central and South America.

Meanwhile, Arabica Bourbon traveled from Yemen to the island of Bourbon (also known as La Réunion located in the Indian Ocean), and was brought to Africa by the French in the 19th century.

                                                                                      Tìm hiểu về cây cà phê - Phadin Coffee

Biological characteristics of Arabica coffee


Arabica coffee trees like to live in high mountains, so they are often cultivated at an altitude of 1200 - 2200 m. The tree has a small canopy, dark green, oval leaves. Mature coffee trees can be from 2.5 to 4.5m tall, if left to grow wild can be more than 10m tall. The optimum temperature is in the range of 15-24oC, so it has higher cold resistance than Robusta coffee (18-36oC). After planting about 3 to 4 years, coffee and tea can start to be harvested. Usually 25-year-old coffee has been considered old, no longer of economic value. In the wild, trees can continue to live for about 70 years.

Development & Distribution of Arabica coffee trees

Before the 19th century, Arabica was the only coffee variety produced in the world. During this period, Arabica varieties were simply selected and mainly focused on local adaptability, high yield, and good quality. It was not until 1920 that coffee leaf rust on Arabica coffee trees spread throughout the coffee nation of Africa and Asia, prompting many farmers to look for alternative crops.



While some countries have replaced coffee production with other crops, Indonesia has started again with Robusta coffee varieties, which have higher yields and high resistance to CLR. Unfortunately, however, Robusta coffee produces lower quality coffee. Therefore, in the late 1970s and 1980s, various countries began implementing breeding programs to create CLR resistant varieties.
Today there are about 125 varieties of Arabica coffee widely distributed in many continents from Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia, China, to the islands of the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean. According to Wikipedia, from the original A.Bourbon and A.Typica trees, many different species of coffee have been created (some by natural mutations, some by humans). However, most of the world's Arabica coffee plantations account for no more than 1% of the biodiversity of wild Arabica varieties in southwestern Ethiopia.

Research & classification of Arabica


About 60% of total coffee production (84.3 million bags in 2014/15, ICO statistics) comes from Arabica species. Traditional varieties such as Typica and Bourbon, derived from native plant populations in Yemen, as well as some of their mutations have long been considered high yielding and exhibiting "standard" quality. Only a few populations such as Laurina, Moka or Blue Mountain have been marketed as being of outstandingly high quality. On the other hand, wild or semi-wild Arbaica plants native to the Ethiopia and Sudan regions, such as Geisha and Rume Sudan, are not significantly involved in the trade, because of low yields.

Arabica Typica 

According to World Coffee Research - World Coffee Research Organization, Arabica Typica variety is commonly known as a group (The Typica group) with many sub-varieties, these descendants are cultivated scattered around the world and carry different names such as Criollo (Creole), Indio (in India) or Arábigo (Arabica) or Blue Mountain (in Jamaica) and Sumatra (in Indonesia).


Coffee Arabica Typica in Cajamarca Peru

Arabica Typica coffee trees in Cajamarca Peru

Today, coffee production in Latin America (the South American region) is still based on a large number of coffee trees developed from the Typica and Bourbon varieties. In Brazil, which accounts for 40% of global coffee production, 97.55% of coffee varieties are derived from Typica and Bourbon.
                                                                               Cây cà phê- giá trị kinh tế của cà phê


Sub-varieties of Arabica Typica

Arabica coffee Maragogype, A mutant of typica, was first recognized in Brazil in 1870. This coffee variety produces large coffee beans, but the distance between the berries (and fruit to leaves) is very large. large lead to poor productivity.


Arabica Pache – A natural mutation of the Typica variety involving a gene that causes the plant to grow shorter than normal. The variety was discovered in 1949 in Guatemala on the Brito farm in Santa Cruz Naranjo, Santa Rosa


SL14 and SL34, both varieties were selected in Kenya in the late 1930s at Scott Agricultural Laboratories. Recent genetic tests have confirmed that SL14 and SL 34 belong to the Typica genetic group, which are economically important coffee varieties in both Kenya and Uganda.


Mibirizi from Rwanda, Possibly the oldest variety in Rwanda, and still important for smallholder coffee growers in Rwanda and Burundi. According to Belgian coffee historian Edmund Leplae, Mibirizi was brought back to Rwanda from Guatemala in the 1910s. So it is most likely of Typica descent, because Guatemala only grew 100% of Typica coffee at the time.


Typiaca coffee from Ecuador

Arabica Typica from Ecuador

In addition, there are still some other breeds, which inherit the Typica gene and are less known such as: Nyasaland (also known as Bugisu local, Nyasa), Harrar Rwanda (also known as Harraghe)


Arabica Bourbon variety

Along with its brother Typica, Bourbon Coffee is an almost "ultimate" link in the connection of Arabica coffee varieties. The high quality correlation of these two varieties has served as a measure of quality throughout the history of the coffee industry. But some mutations have given Bourbon coffee 20-30% higher yield than the Typica brothers.


BourBon Hong Coffee Tree - Colombia (1)

Arabica Bourbon Pink Coffee - Colombia

The first Bourbon coffee tree was planted by the French on the island of Bourbon (now Réunion) in the middle of the Indian Ocean around 1708. Today Bourbon is present throughout the Latin American continent and Africa, growing best in high altitudes. 1,100 - 2,000 meters high and 20 - 30% higher yield than its brother Typica.

                                                                                                Cà phê Việt Nam: Giữ sức bền cho cuộc đua dài - Báo điện tử của Đảng ủy  Khối Doanh nghiệp Trung ương


Varieties of Arabica Bourbon

Caturra – A natural mutation of the Bourbon coffee variety, with a genetic modification that makes the plant shorter than normal (dwarfism). From the original natural mutation, the Caturra variety has continued to be selected by the Brazilian Institute of Agronomy (IAC for short).


Villa Sarchi (also known as La Luisa or Villalobos Bourbon) like Catutta, is a natural "dwarf" mutant of the C. Bourbon variety This variety was discovered in Costa Rica in the 1950s.


Similarly, Pacas is also a natural "dwarf" mutant of Bourbon, discovered in 1949 on a farm owned by the Pacas family in the Santa Ana region of El Salvador.


Arabica SL28 is one of the most popular and appreciated Arabica coffee varieties in Africa. From its first cultivation in Kenya in the 1930s, it was not long before SL28 was widely distributed throughout other parts of Africa (particularly the Arabica growing regions of Uganda).


Arabica Coffee SL28 (1)

Arabica coffee tree SL28 in Kenya

Bourbon itself still contains a very diverse 'pedigree', in addition to the popular varieties listed above, we also have Tekisic – selected by the Salvadoran Institute of Coffee Research (ISIC) for nearly 30 years, from 1949-1977 ; Venecia – selected by ICAFE in Costa Costa ; K7 – Selected after five generations at Scott Agricultural Laboratories, Kenya in 1936..


Hybrids between Typica and Bourbon


Mundo Novo is a natural cross between Bourbon and the typical Typica variety, first found at Mineiros do Tiete, Sao Paulo, Brazil. This “coffee hybrid” variety was originally grown in the Novo Mundo municipality (now Urupês) in 1943. Mundo Novo coffee trees are characterized by their tall stature, so this variety is widely grown only in South American countries, but rare in Central America and the Caribbean (Mundo Novo was brought to Costa Rica in 1952, but was not widely cultivated because farmers did not like its tall stature).

Arabica Catuai is the result of a cross between Mundo Novo and Caturra grown in Brazil in the late 1940s, now Catuai accounts for 50% of the coffee area in Brazil and is widely used in Central America, typically Costa Rica, Guatemala. . Catuai coffee trees are small in stature, easy to care for, have a characteristic yellow color and yield higher than Bourbon.


Catuai coffee tree

Catuai coffee trees in Honduras

Pacamara, is a cross between Pacas (of Bourbon) and Maragogipe (of Typica). Made an incomplete pedigree selection by the Salvadoran Coffee Research Institute (ISIC) Pacamara is unstable from generation to generation.

                                                                         Giá cà phê hôm nay 10/1: Robusta giảm phiên thứ 5 liên tiếp, yếu tố thu hút  sự quan tâm? Giá tiêu có tín hiệu vui

Other Arabica varieties

In the early 1980s, the need to develop Arabica varieties resistant to coffee leaf rust (CLR) caused by the fungus Hemileiavastatrix forced the geneticist to search for other sources of resistance genes. Therefore, most breeders have decided to use the Timor Hybrid (which is a natural hybrid between C. arabica and C. canephora), which is cross-compatible with Arabica, as the main source of disease resistance genes. From these efforts, various invasive varieties have been developed (eg, Catimor, Sarchimor) that combine high yield and resistance to rust.



However, Even if the overall agronomic performance is improved, the flavor quality of the new varieties remains a subject of controversy; For example, the Costa Rica 95 variety, which is of poorer quality than the traditional varieties, on the other hand, the Castillo variety developed in Colombia, the Ruiru 11 variety developed in Kenya or some resistant varieties developed in Brazil show potential. better taste performance

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