Arabica Variety Red Catuai
A cross between highly productive Mundo Novo and compact Caturra, made by the Instituto Agronomico (IAC) of Sao Paulo State in Campinas, Brazil. The plant is highly productive compared to Bourbon, in part because of its small size, which allows plants to be closely spaced; it can be planted at nearly double the density. The plant’s shape makes it relatively easy to apply pest and disease treatments. It is mainly characterized by great vigor and its low height; it is less compact than Caturra. It is highly susceptible to coffee leaf rust. Catuaí derives from the Guarani multo mom, meaning “very good." Today, it is considered to have good but not great cup quality. There are yellow-fruited and red-fruited types and have since been many selections in different countries. The cultivar was created in 1949 from a crossing of yellow Caturra and Mundo Novo, and was initially called H-2077.
The variety was released in Brazil in 1972 after pedigree selection (selection of individual plants through successive generations) and is in wide cultivation there. In Brazil, there are multiple lines of Catuai available; some are notable for their high productivity. The Catuaí lines transferred to Central America seem to be less productive; studies in Honduras and Costa Rica found no significant differences in productivity have been observed between Caturra and Catuaí.
It is economically important in Costa Rica, where a yellow-fruiting Catuai was introduced in 1985, whose descendants have spread widely through the country. It was introduced into Guatemala in 1970; currently, about 20% of the country’s production is Catuai. It has a negligible presence in other Central American countries.
Fermentation Red Honey
The relatively recent emergence of a processing style known as honey has become prominent throughout Central American coffee-producing countries, perhaps most notably in Costa Rica. This process retains some of the desirable characteristics of a full natural fermented coffee (heavy body, sweet fruitiness with lower acidity, deep chocolate notes) while also speeding the drying process considerably, and reducing some of the risks of spoilage, mold, and other defects that can occur with a fully intact coffee cherry on the drying patios or tables.
The most obvious benefit to the Honey process over strict naturals is the speed and efficiency of the drying process, as well as the various flavor characteristics that can emerge through fermentation and exposure. On the other hand, the exposed fruit material does create more risk for the producers, as it requires more labor in drying to prevent taints from developing. These coffees will also often have an uneven or inconsistent appearance in their green forms, which can be unappealing for roasters who are used to the more uniform cleanliness of a Washed coffee.
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