Typica coffee is one of the most well-known coffee varieties with a long history across many coffee-growing regions. This iconic variety has defined high quality for centuries and while its popularity has waxed and waned over the centuries, there’s no denying the vital role of Typica in the history and development of specialty coffee across the globe.
Let’s uncover the origins, history, characteristics, and details behind Typica coffee.
Origins of Typica
Typica is a natural mutation of Arabica that can be traced back to Ethiopia, much like other varieties of Arabica. Typica is one of the two most popular Arabica varieties, with the second one being Bourbon. Typica coffee is valued for its high-quality cup profile with clean and complex notes.
The name Typica refers to how common this variety is and at one time you could find Typica coffee in every major coffee-growing region around the world. However, Typica is susceptible to coffee leaf rust and other pests which has reduced its popularity over the decades.
Typica was among the first batches of coffee taken out of southeast Ethiopia to be grown in Yemen in the 15th and 16th centuries. By the end of the 1600s, Typica had reached India and was subsequently taken to Jakarta via the Malabar coast in south India. In 1706, Dutch traders transported a single Typica plant from Indonesia to the Netherlands. This plant is said to be the progenitor for all the Typica sub-varieties that would later become popular in the Americas.
In 1714, a Typica coffee plant was gifted to France by the mayor of Amsterdam and the French then spread the plants through their colonial trade routes. Eventually, the Typica variety reached Central and South America as well as Cuba, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic. Typica went on become the most popular variety of coffee in the Americas until the mid-20th century.
Typica coffee plants are characterised by their tall height and bronze leaf tips. Many sub-varietals have been developed from Typica including Blue Mountain, Mundo Novo, Maragogipe, Kona, etc. These varieties have been developed through natural mutations, selective breeding, and hybridisations.
Typica is no longer as popular as it once was due to its low yield and vulnerability to pests and diseases. Hardier varieties of Arabica like Bourbon and Caturra have overtaken Typica in popularity.
Typica is famous for producing high-quality coffee which can be very lucrative for farmers. However, there are challenges associated with growing this variety, particularly regarding the size of the plants and the resources required to produce a viable crop.
The first challenge is space: Typica is a tall plant with long branches that are widely spaced. This means that farmers will require more space to successfully cultivate it. Their large size also means that they will need more labour and time to grow and harvest.
Typica is susceptible to pests and diseases which means farmers will have to invest more in fertilisers and treatments to keep the plants healthy and thriving. Additionally, Typica has a lower yield than some other varieties like Bourbon, producing 20-30% fewer coffee cherries. This can be risky for small farms since any setbacks could wipe out their harvest.
Despite all these challenges, Typica can be worth it for farms that have the capacity to market themselves to a specialty audience. Typica varieties such as Blue Mountain sell at premium prices which is a great incentive for farms to continue nurturing their Typica lots.
Brewing Typica Coffee
Typica coffee beans are clean, sweet, and complex with a broad flavour profile depending on where and how it's grown. For example, one of the most well-known Typica varieties is Jamaica Blue Mountain which is characterised by mild, creamy sweetness with notes of chocolate and nuts. On the other hand, Indonesian Typica is more likely to have fruity and floral flavour notes with a clean acidity.
Typica coffee beans are commonly light-roasted which brings out its high cup quality and complex flavours. Typica is an excellent coffee for brewing espresso or pour-overs. It’s best served as black coffee but some of the sweeter and creamier varieties also do well as milk coffee.
Whichever brewing method you choose, rest assured that all the Typica varieties are known for producing clean, smooth, and high-quality cup flavours.
Origins of Mundo Novo Coffee
Mundo Novo is an interesting hybrid of Bourbon and Typica, bringing you the best of each. This hybrid was discovered in Mineiros do Tiete, Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1943. The town where the seeds were first grown was called Novo Mundo at the time (now known as Urupês) and this is where it gets its name.
Mundo Novo has been distributed to Brazilian farmers since 1952. Initially, farmers had some difficulty with the tall stature of these plants but their higher yield and excellent quality eventually won them over. Now, 40% of coffee exports from Brazil are the Mundo Novo variety.
Flavours of Mundo Novo Coffee
The flavour profile of Mundo Novo coffee is described as thick and sweet with understated acidity. This works well for medium and dark roasts. It often has crisp flavour notes, notably nutty and woody.
Its heavy and dark notes make Mundo Novo excellent for brewing espresso. If you prefer a smoother taste, it also does well as a cold brew.
Typica, and its subvarieties and hybrids, is no ordinary coffee and its extensive flavour profile has won the hearts of coffee lovers around the world. It is one of the most important varieties of coffee in terms of history, culture, and genetics. Despite the challenges of growing Typica, it retains its reputation for high quality which makes it a favourite to this day.
If you’re interested in trying Typica for yourself, look for names like Jamaica Blue Mountain, Kona, and Sumatra. Additionally, look for labels that indicate it was shade-grown, grown at a high altitude, and cultivated sustainably. You’ll often find these in specialty stores, gourmet cafes, and high-end coffee retailers. Don’t let the premium price deter you! This coffee is versatile and is sure to be a delight no matter how you brew it.