Yunnan's Catimor Coffee beans
by BO LI on Feb 27, 2023
China is a newcomer to the coffee production scene. But with the rise of the middle class and white-collar work on the uptick in China, domestic demand for coffee has spilled over into domestic production of coffee beans. Yunnan, Fujian, and Hainan all produce coffee alongside some of the most exquisite tea in the world. Yunnan is where more than 90% of China’s coffee beans are produced and that is what we will be exploring today. Just as Yunnan is famous for its special tea, pu’erh, so too has it been making a name for itself by cultivating a special cultivar of arabica beans, the Catimor bean.
A deeper dive into beans
Normally, discussions of coffee beans discuss arabica and robusta. Maybe some more esoteric dives into beans also explore Liberica and Excelsa beans. But there are more. Or, rather there are more nuances to arabica and other bean types than is normally addressed or talked about. Catimor is a variant of arabica hybridized with robusta, so it doesn't really fit into the niche of different bean types per say. It is not a new rival to robusta in the sense that it is an altogether different bean, but it has some key distinctions for sure.
What is Catimor?
Catimor coffee beans are a hybrid between Timor coffee beans and Caturra coffee beans. The origins of Catimor go back to Portugal in 1959. Timor beans come from a robusta varietal that is resistant to leaf rust and is also pest resistant and contributes to Catimor being growable at lower altitudes.
Caturra is itself another hybrid of Bourbon beans and is in the arabica family. The benefit of using Catimor plants is that the plants grow and produce coffee cherries quickly. Not only that but they have high yields of coffee cherries, making for a crop that can grow quickly and produce a lot.
However, this does affect the lifespan of the plants. Catimor plants will show a drop off in production after about 10 years or so. That being said, Catimor has plenty of benefits when it comes to producing beans, especially in a market that has to get up and ready to serve a truly massive coffee-thirsty population like China has! But what about the most important aspect of Catimor beans? The flavor profile?
How does Catimor taste?
Having aspects of both robusta and arabica has both benefits and drawbacks of course. Robusta, brings to the table its robustness but for many, the taste of robusta is less than desirable. Arabica brings some of the taste and aroma characteristics but leads to a plant that may be moody in terms of where it grows and how. With these variables understood we can begin to paint a picture of Yunnan’s Catimor beans.
Yunnan has a unique and stunning natural landscape, marked by high altitudes and many of the other geographical features that benefit both arabica and robusta plants. With a bit more emphasis on the arabica part! Yunnan’s Catimor beans as a result turn out exceptionally sweet, with a full, creamy body, and a citrin acidity.
The aroma profile is pretty wide including some hints and notes of black tea, spices, chocolate, dried cherries, and some nuttiness to round everything out. As one can see, these beans have some similarities to Colombian beans but certainly with some flavors and aromatics akin to other regions like Central American beans and Indonesian beans as well.
In short, they are tasty, versatile, and certainly in need for some exploration by specialty coffee lovers and casual coffee fans alike!
Yunnan's Catimor beans
Chinese coffee beans are newcomers to the coffee bean scene. But that doesn't mean they do not have something unique and nuanced to offer the coffee world. Yunnan's Catimor beans are exquisite and unique beans that are sure to capture the coffee world's attention. Why not seek out some of these unique Chinese beans yourself? It may be impossible to get all the tea in China but the coffee beans are certainly attainable!
- “China – Roasted Catimor Coffee Beans.” Kuyperian Coffee, 19 Mar. 2019, kuyperiancoffee.com/product/china-roasted-catimor-coffee-beans. Accessed 26 Feb. 2023.
- “Coffee from China’s Tea-Growing Capital Prized for Its “Amazing Quality.”” South China Morning Post, 23 July 2022, www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/long-reads/article/3185947/single-origin-coffee-yunnan-china-known-pu-erh.
- Heinze, Tim. “Yunnan Coffee.” Fresh Cup Magazine, 12 Dec. 2016, freshcup.com/yunnan-coffee/. Accessed 26 Feb. 2023.
- “What Is Catimor Coffee? History, Features of Catimor, Taste.” Helena Coffee Processing & Export, 20 Jan. 2022, helenacoffee.vn/what-is-catimor-coffee-features-of-catimor-coffee/.