Hawaii Coffee Varieties: red caturra, yellow caturra and typica coffee cherries on the tree

COMMON VARIETIES

Hawaii grows as many coffee varieties as there are coffee microclimates producing them. Within this diversity, however, seven of them are most prominent: Typica, Catuai, Mokka, Mundo Novo, Kauai Blue Mountain, Caturra and Yellow Caturra.

The most widespread is Tpyica (commonly referred to as Kona Typica). This variety is the backbone of the state’s most famed coffee-growing regions: Kona and Ka’u on the Big Island. Originally introduced to Hawaii by way of Guatemala, Typica’s ubiquity allows for a vast array of flavors and aromas to be experienced — presenting a perfect showcase of Hawaii’s diversified coffee terroir. Found in every region on the Big Island, Kauai, Oahu, and Maui, Typica makes it easy to compare the affects of cultivation, harvesting and processing practices have on cup quality.

Planted as the exclusive variety on the island of Moloka’i and in large plots on Maui, Catuai is found nearly as often as Typica from numerous wholesalers and retailers. Along with Caturra, Catuai is also widely distributed around all the growing regions of the Big Island, mostly in Ka’u, Puna and Hamakua. The two are often confused because the plants look very similar in appearance.

Apart from these dominant varieties, many small farms are beginning to experiment with different plantings of Bourbon (Red, Yellow and Pink), SL-28, and Gesha, among others. Exceptional cup quality has been demonstrated by some, but time will tell if any of them become established as viable options for further expansion.

For more detailed information on Hawaii’s innovative coffee research programs, please visit the Hawaii Agriculture Research Center.