When you’re reading through coffee blogs, or visiting the online store of your favorite coffee roaster, you have probably seen a lot of mention of coffee varietals. If there’s no explanation provided anywhere on the site, two obvious questions arise: What the heck does varietal mean, and why is it important?
The term “varietal” refers to the diverse forms derived through selective breeding or natural selection of coffee plants. In essence they represent subspecies of the several coffee species. Varietal is actually a wine-tasting term, used to describe a wine made from or belonging to a single specified variety of grape, but the coffee industry has adopted it when referring to various types of coffee plants. Much the way a certain type of grape will affect the flavor of wine, coffee varietals have a big impact on the way coffee tastes.
This guide, which was put together by Stumptown Coffee Roasters, will assist you in understanding the differences between coffee varietals: