What is Java Coffee Cultivar?

A variety from Java is grown in Cameroon but ends up in Nicaragua and probably isn’t what anyone thinks it is … hmm.

Years ago, like 12 or 18 or so, I bought a Cameroon coffee to sell on Sweet Maria’s. I had never heard of coffee from Cameroon. I probably couldn’t point to Cameroon on a map. I was temptingly thinking of something like caramel macaroon. I don’t know why, but the coffee was decent and didn’t look

Cameroon was often sold as Boyo, an arabica growing zone. (Much of the production is lowland robusta in Cameroon). The arabica I was offering had this elongated and rather pointed green coffee bean. I was introduced to this as “Java” cultivar. I understand traditionally Cameroon also had a Jamaica variety arabica. (Blue Mountain Bourbon?) 

Years later, “Java” came up again … no relation to the Indonesian island or coffees developed there at the the research facility in Jember. No this was the same long “football shaped” green seed form, and it was in Nicaragua. A defunct commercial nursery was selling off seed and Mirisch farms had bought some and planted it near Matagalpa.

Erwin told me he literally bought it by the side of the road. The cup was good, with soft acidity and a slight lemon cookie flavor that was unique The tree itself had extreme upright branches, a Christmas tree shape.

Many years after that, I am in Sumatra and we are discussing their long-bean varieties called “Abyssinia” (that is Ethiopia). But observing the different types of Abyssinia grown in Sumatra (AB3 and AB7) I think it is clearly not just a Typica nor an Ethiopian coffee landrace at all.

Also AB3 is supposed to be an original coffee brought by Dutch scientist PJS Kramer, but AB7 (Abyssinia 7) is known to be crossed with Timor Hybrid (TimTim) for better disease resistance. Observing the plants in Sumatra this absolutely seemed true. 

So what is “Java” from Cameroon? Since I have not been to observe it, I don’t know! And even if I did see it I might still not know. But you would hope informed sources would… Checking at the World Coffee Research site though, they seem to not maybe a distinction on this… assuming the Abyssinia that is also Java cultivar is simply an Ethiopian landrace. I kinda doubt this…

From World Coffee Research:

It (Java Cultivar) was originally thought to be a Typica selection. In the mid-20th century, it was brought to Cameroon by a local farmer via the Vilmorin company, which acquired the seeds in Java from Porteres (a famous breeder). In Cameroon, the breeder Pierre Bouharmont observed that it was partially tolerant to coffee berry disease (CBD), a prevalent problem for coffee growers in Africa, and well adapted for smallholder growers using few inputs. After nearly 20 years of selection, it was released for cultivation in Cameroon in 1980-90. It was originally thought to be a Typica selection. But genetic fingerprinting of molecular markers has revealed that Java is a selection from an Ethiopian landrace population called Abyssinia.


Other articles of interest:

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