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Varietal vs. Cultivar

Posted by Patrick Oiye on

This month we'd like to give a little bit of information about some great varietals and cultivars you may see on our tags this month. What is the difference between a varietal and a cultivar you ask? Simply put, a variety is a naturally occurring genetic variation within a species while a cultivar is developed by a human to express desirable traits.  

Pacas: According to, pacas was discovered in 1949 by the Pacas family in the Santa Ana region of El Salvador. It is a genetic mutation of another popular varietal, Bourbon. One of the most appealing aspects of this variety is that it is a dwarf variation. This means higher production per hectare as well as being more efficient with harvesting and pruning! For reference, a typical Bourbon tree may grow up to 12 feet while a Pacas may only grow to 8. 

Pacamara: Like the name may imply, Pacamara is a hybrid cultivar of the varietals Pacas and Maragogype. Maragogype is a varietal that has MASSIVE cherries and really great cup potential.The result is a moderately yielding, dwarf coffee tree with large "bean" size and major flavor! This hybrid was developed in El Salvador by the Instituto Salvadoreno de Investigaciones del Cafe (ISIC) or The Salvadoran Institute of Coffee Research and is public domain, meaning this coffee cultivar can be shared with other producers around the world.

Maracaturra: Another hybrid cultivar coming our way via Guatemala is a cross between, you guessed it, Maragogype and Caturra. Caturra is a more common high-yielding variety you will see coming from other Central and South American origins such as Colombia. When combined with the flavor profile of Maragogype we get winning combination of high-yield and exceptional cup potential. 

Farmers are constantly trying to predict specialty coffee trends and produce what consumers will find exciting and desirable. However, not many are able to afford this prediction and invest in the research and development of managing various coffee varietals/cultivars to match these demands. In combination with that, many of these tasty varietals and cultivars are highly susceptible to disease and pests, adding another layer of risk. So when Olympia Coffee's green coffee comes to our roaster separated by varietals it is a direct result of the investment and feedback we provide by developing these long-term relationships based on trust with our producers.

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