Coffee comes in three very basic varieties for commercial distribution: Arabica, Liberica and Robusta. All three of these are of African origin. The Arabica bean is from Ethiopia and is well suited for growing in higher altitudes (above 2000 feet). Liberica coffee comes from West Africa and is more suited for growing altitudes below 2000 feet. Robusta coffee trees originated in the Congo and does well in forested environments.
Liberica and robusta trees produce higher yields than Arabica trees and require less tending, but the coffee produced tends to have a harsh flavor in comparison. Their caffeine content can also be as much as 50% higher than Arabica coffees.
All of the bean varieties for sale are based on only three main species of coffee tree yet there are hundreds of distinct coffee varieties available. The differences can be traced to the wide variety of altitudes, climates, soils and amount of rainfall that affect the growth of the coffee tree. Although coffee trees only grow well within 2000 miles of the equator, these areas have a wide range of climatic and environmental differences. The wind, fog and cool temperatures of the highlands of Central America will create different characteristics from coffee grown in the hot, steamy lowland jungles of Africa or in the variable conditions of the Caribbean.
South American Coffees
Sumatra Mandheling -
An Indonesian island northwest of Australia, Sumatra's Mandheling region
enjoys warm coastal breezes by day and cool mountain air by night. It
produces a heavy-bodied coffee with syrupy richness, low acidity, and
a distinctive earthy or spicy flavor.