Coffee Variety Gardens, Kenya, Central America, Colombia, Sulawesi

Coffee varieties are my thing! Here are some visits I have made to coffee research collections.

I am a big fan of unusual coffee varieties and will go out of my way to find these non-arabica species, or varieties of C. arabica or C. canephora. Here’s some coffee gardens I have visited

Kenya Coffee Research Coffee Variety Collection

This garden is large, one of the former International Coffee Organization – supported network of coffee species and variety collections. The ICO still exists, but when the US-led effort to reduce it’s authority, retreating from the Coffee Export Quota agreement in the 80s and 90s.

This was not only a precursor to the dramatic drop in global coffee prices, and lack of stable pricing overall. It also led to defunding important functions, like maintaining a diverse (and redundant) genetic repository of coffee plants for research. The collection here in Kenya near Kiambu looks sad now, in need of care, replacing specimens that are old, and just better funding overall.

Yet I appreciate the work they continue to do, even with lack of sufficient funds! Click on an image to view it larger in the photo lightbox.

Procafe Coffee Variety Collection in El Salvador

I visited Procafe on a couple occasions many years ago. I am not clear on their function but I believe this is a private enterprise offering agronomy services and testing. I believe they offered certified coffee seed and nursery seedlings too. I am not sure if Procafe SV are still operating… but they had some cool varieties!

Coffea Diversa, Escazu Costa Rica

Coffea Diversa is a unique farm and mail order coffee business that plants unique varieties of coffee and sells the roasted coffee for himne delivery … in Costa Rica. I visited there wth Francisco Mena many years ago and here’s some photographic evidence!

Toarco Coffee Cultivar Garden, Toraja Sulawesi

The private farm and coffee mill PT Toarco has a small garden with useful varieties of coffee, right on their own Pedemeran coffee farm at about 1200 meters.

Colombia Coffee Cultivars at Cenicafe

One evening during the Colombia Cup of Excellence held in Manizales, we went to visit the research facility of the FNC, called Cenicafe. They had some interesting crosses. They kept multiple strains of Timor Hybrid variety, which makes sense as is it a genetic parent of Catimor rust-resistant variety types.

2 Responses

  1. What do you think of the variety Coffea stenophylla that is being suggested as a high temperature alternative as the climate warms?

    1. I really don’t know. My only experience tasting stenophylla left me thinking it was not a great option for cultivation, but who knows if it was hybridized with arabica types. Robusta can certainly thrive in warmer climates and grows pretty well at lower elevations and in higher humidity. Some others people claim are “okay” taste wise, like Liberica and Excelsa, I really have to disagree. But with a breeding program focused on better cup flavors, who knows what the potential might be … there might be some surprises.

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