Hi Tanya, thanks for this question. As Eugenioides made more interesting coffee genetics, we have started digging deeper into this topic.
Coffee liberica is considered different from Arabica, Robusta, and the most recently discovered Eugenioides.
As its name suggests, European coffee traders named it after Liberia in West Africa. Liberica produces a large and irregular coffee bean compared to other coffee species.
The tree is very different from Arabica and Robusta, and it’s the tallest coffee tree known in existence. Some account to have found trees up to 20 meters in height, something impossible for any other coffee plant species.
Currently, less than 2% of the global coffee market is Liberica. Considering the tree characteristics, it isn’t hard to understand why it’s more difficult to harvest and became less favored by coffee farmers. Additionally to the tree, the coffee beans are irregular in shape, making them more challenging to process.
For these reasons, many farmers are adopting hybridized Liberica coffee plants, which has endangered pure Liberica, increasing its rarity.
Although the plant is native to Western and Central Africa, scientists have traced its origins to Liberia, Uganda, and Angola. Currently, it’s common in Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia.
Sensory analysts claim that freshly ground Liberica releases a floral and fruity fragrance. Then, after brewing, it acquires a woody, intense taste, with a bold mouthfeel and body.
At some point in the 19th century, when the leaf rust outbreak threatened to destroy the coffee industry, Liberica saved the day. The plant is more resilient than Arabica, although it is less productive than Robusta, which became the favorite of coffee producers at low altitudes.
For this reason, it’s relatively hard to find Liberica outside of the countries that produce it massively, mainly because it’s prevalent in their respective domestic markets. Nowadays is a favorite in Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia, where it’s part of the regular menu, where coffee drinkers enjoy its intense taste and distinctive fragrance and aroma.