The Cafe Imports Coffee Variety Glossary and Gallery – Free educational resources available now

Posted on May 17th, 2019

There’s endless discussion in the specialty world about the seemingly countless variables that makes individual coffees taste different from one another. Is it the processing method? The soil quality and structure? Sun exposure? Amount of rain?
Varieties are one of the “variables” categories that we’ve been interested in exploring, and since we love being helpful we set out to create a few easy reference materials about coffee variety information. After years of gathering information, doing lots of reading and research, and sorting through heaps of photos and producer testimonies, we’ve been able to put together a few handy guides for other variety nerds out there: A Coffee Variety Glossary featuring descriptions of the historical and parental lineage of 106 different Arabica types, including photos of over 40 coffee types (and counting), just waiting for you to practice your identification skills on.

Our green-coffee buyers travel the world almost constantly, meeting producers and visiting farms: Occasionally they will spot an unusual or curious-looking plant in a field and ask what variety it is, eager to collect a “new” sample or example for our reference. It’s kind of like geocaching—but with caffeine. We’ve created these drill-downs into the genetics of different types of coffee plants to help us understand common characteristics and “what to expect” from sub-species of coffee from around the world, and we’re always pleased to share what we learn with our customers and other coffee people.

(By the way, in case you’re wondering whether you’re a variety nerd: If you habitually correct other people’s misuse of “varietal,” you carefully distinguish between cultivars and heirlooms, and you know whether Bourbon new growth is bright green or olive-colored… well, we have news for you.)

These free resources are available for use at, and are companion pieces to the expanded and re-imagined fourth-edition of the Cafe Imports Coffee Family Tree, which was released in late 2018. Varieties are only one area of exploration under the umbrella of Cafe Imports Education: For more free, accessible, and constantly evolving educational tools and guides, visit, and be sure to watch that space for more exciting and informative content coming soon.

Abyssinia coffee variety, Gayo Highlands, Central Aceh, Sumatra.