I received a couple of great follow-up questions to last week’s discussion on the Caturra versus Castillo/Colombia debate. You were talking about varieties but the bags say varietals, is there a difference?
Variety operates as a noun and varietal as an adjective. Variety can thus describe all of the genetically distinct types of the coffee plant. Bourbon or Typica are varieties of coffee. When talking about a specific instance of the variety, as in a individual farm or cooperative or crop, you can use the term varietal. Thus the new La Palmera contains Typica, Caturra and Bourbon varietals.
A second question on coffee jargon: what is the difference between cultivar and variety? what is a hybrid? Cultivar is (used) interchangeably with variety because it is a short form version of ‘cultivated variety’. I was relying on it last week to discuss the types of varieties historically propagated in labs rather than those mutations occurring in the natural environment. Last week, I used the handy Cafe Imports tree but this week let me crib from the SCAA: