Varieties of Coffee Grown in Central America
Although much of Central America can certainly be thought as a sort of extension of the great South American coffee tradition – similar climates and landscapes make the types of coffee comparable in many ways – for this section we’ll try to focus on coffees that are more exclusive to Central America. Some of these coffees are also grown in South America, but there will be more exploration of full South American coffees in the South America section.
Here are some of the more popular varieties of coffee grown in South America. Like the previous overview for Africa, some of these are larger categories and varieties of coffee and others are great single origin coffees:
- Caturra: A mutation of the Bourbon variety, this coffee was first discovered in Brazil in the mid-20th century before making its way up to Central America. It’s easy to grow and there is less space between branches (it also has a high yield and will grow very quickly), which makes it great for Central American countries without a lot of land.
- Pacas: A variety that comes from Caturra, this is mostly at home in El Salvador. Like Caturra, it is generally easier to grow than other coffee varieties, which means it also takes up less space. Like many Caturra-based varieties, Pacas can be quite resistant to disease, which helps the ease with which they grow.
- Villa Sarchi: A Bourbon mostly found in Costa Rica, Villa Sarchi coffee is similar to Pacas in many respects. Both Villa Sarchi and Pacas varieties come from Caturra, and the ease with which it grows contrasts with its generally-renowned poorer “cup” quality than coffees that can be somewhat more difficult to grow.
- Costa Rican Monte Crisol: Known as a sweet coffee, Costa Rican Monte Crisol grown in the west central valley of the country is a favorite amongst single origin seekers who want a great coffee from Costa Rica – or from Central America in general.
- Guatemala Antigua: This is generally considered Guatemala’s great contribution to the coffee world. The elevations in Guatemala tend to be around a mile above sea level for the coffees grown here, which is often ideal for the Arabica varietals grown in the Antigua region. Catuai, Caturra, and Bourbon – all varietals of Arabica – are grown here.
- Panama Geisha: Geisha is a variety in and of itself (Coffea Arabica var. geisha) and has been known as one of the top-tasting coffees coming from the entire region in recent years, winning a number of awards. Because the variety comes from a very specific location – Boquete in the Chiriqui Province in western Panama – it has also become a favorite of those people who seek single-origin coffees with a pure, unique Central American flavor.