So. Coffee varieties. They vary.

If you’ve ever eaten a tomato, you know how important variety is to flavor, especially when it comes to fruit. Coffee is a fruit (we know you know), so it follows that different coffee varieties would have different taste profiles. We’re going to focus on three heirloom varieties – Typica, Bourbon, and Geisha – and explore how they differ.

Typica – this variety grows tall and produces an oval-shaped fruit. Typica coffees are known for having a good body, and a clean taste that lets natural sweetness shine through.

Bourbon – (no relation to the booze) these trees are slightly stumpy and produce small, round fruits. Bourbons are known for being sweet and complex in taste.

Geisha – these are smaller, finicky trees that grow when and where they want and yield less fruit. But what they lack in yield, they make up for in wildly unique floral and citrus flavors, backed up by a nice sweetness.

All of these varieties originated in Ethiopia, and they are so tasty is thanks to the heavy coffee habit of Ethiopians. Unlike many coffee-producing cultures, Ethiopians actually drink the coffee they’re growing – a lot of it. So while in many parts of the world, coffee plants were being selected based on how much fruit they yield, Ethiopian coffee was being selected for taste.

When in doubt about coffee varieties, think about tomatoes: Go for the heirlooms.

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