Types of Vietnamese Coffee Varietals

  • 2 min read
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If you're into single origin, artisanal coffee, (or you’ve just spent a lot of time hanging out in gourmet coffee shops) you’re probably familiar withVietnamese coffee — after all, they are the world’ssecond largest coffee producing and cultivating nation. And, you’re also probably well versed in the two main types of coffee beans:arabica coffee beans androbusta coffee beans. However, while you might have had robusta coffee beans from Vietnam, you might not be hip to the other Vietnamese coffee varietals out there, including Typica, Catimor, and Moka. 

Typica Coffee

Although Vietnam is known around the coffee world for being the number one producer of robusta coffee beans, the Typica coffee bean varietal is an offshoot of thearabica bean, and while it’s produced in other parts of the world, Vietnamese Typica is only produced in small quantities in the Cau Dat district — approximately 2.5 to three tons each year. (Compare that to the roughly 9.5 million tons of coffee beans produced each year around the world.) The coffee produced from this cultivar tends to have notes of lemon or other fresh citrus flavors, especially when grown at higher elevations.

Catimor Coffee

The Catimor coffee cultivar is a unique varietal that was originally developed in Portugal in 1959. The goal of cultivating this varietal was to produce a coffee bean that was easy to grow and had a high yield. Catimor coffee is a hybrid of the Timor Hybrid, which is resistant to coffee leaf rust due to its robusta genetics, and Caturra, a cultivar loved by growers for its small, compact size. Coffee made from the Catimor varietal gives off nutty and herbal aromas, and has distinct cherry and berry notes upon tasting. 

Moka Coffee

No, it’s not the drink you order at Starbucks. The Moka coffee bean cultivar — also known as the Bourbon cultivar — is a well known coffee varietal in Vietnam. Moka originated in the port city of Mocha, Yemen in the 13th century, and was eventually introduced to the island of Bourbon, which is now called Reunion, a small, French-controlled island in the Indian Ocean. From there, the French brought Moka coffee beans to Vietnam in 1875. After Moka was harvested and processed, it was marketed under the brand name “Arabica du Tonkin.” This blend of coffee became associated with luxury and the upper class, giving it a high price tag when it was imported to France. Coffee from the Moka varietal has a slightly more acidic taste with sweet underlying notes.

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