Does a hybrid coffee taste as good as or better than a non-hybrid coffee? All three coffees are simply wonderful, and that’s the point. We are bringing more hybrid coffees to our customers because hybrids are more sustainable. We sincerely hope this awakens you to what some people call the future of coffee.
What is a Hybrid Coffee or Varietal?
A hybrid coffee breeds better tasting arabica varietals with the hardier robusta varietals. As we know now, the discovery and commercialization of arabica varietals created a worldwide growth, if not obsession, in specialty coffee. We’re obsessed with arabica varietals as well, but looking forward, we are increasing our sustainability efforts beginning with sourcing more hybrid varietals.
The creation of hybrid coffees has been led by World Coffee Research in collaboration with businesses and farmers with a scientific and research-based approach. This is not to be confused with genetically modified organisms. The cornerstone of WCR’s strategy is the creation of a network of regional breeding hubs that countries, research institutes, and private sector partners can utilize to accelerate the pace of coffee genetic improvement through breeding coffees not genetically modifying coffees.
Sustainability and Hybrid Coffee
Fulcrum Coffee strongly believes in implementing business practices that ultimately lower our carbon footprint and improve the livelihoods of our farmer partners while not placing an undue burden on customers through higher coffee prices. You can read our overall Sustainability Program, but hybrid coffees are the cornerstone for the following reasons:
Climate Change – The increase in temperatures lowers quality and yields in coffee production. Upwards of 50% of current land will be unsuitable for arabica coffee cultivation by 20501. Hybrid coffee varietals solve this problem and provides financial stability and prosperity for our farmer partners. This long-term commitment to our farmers with hybrid coffee varietals also improves the quality of coffee.
Disease Threat – Coffee leaf rust (la roya) and coffee borer disease destroy entire crops. In the 2012 coffee rust epidemic in Central America, the coffee industry suffered billions in crop losses, and an estimated 1.7 million jobs2. These new hybrid varietals are more resistant to coffee disease.
Farmer Yield – Higher yields per acre not only means more prosperity for the farmer but also greater investment in improving quality while keeping prices reasonable. The end customer, the person enjoying a cup of coffee at one of our customers’ cafes, wants to support more sustainable coffee, but only to a point. The cost of the cup can’t be unreasonably high, or the end customer is required to bear the burden of sustainability. Hybrid coffees meet this often used phrase, win – win.
The simple rule of tasting coffee – enjoy it the best way you always do. We recommend trying hybrid coffees over several days by your own brewing method of choice, or following the recommendations in our brewing guide. Take a moment to reflect on the tasting notes and write down what you experience versus tasting a non-hybrid varietal.
If you want to have some fun, especially if several friends join in, try conducting a blind tasting. A blind tasting removes all bias and allows you to do side by side comparisons. We do blind tastings with our staff all the time. The fun begins when the arguments begin. Coffee is not linear, higher scoring coffees do not necessarily lead to a better tasting cup. We found the highest scoring coffee wasn’t always the cup picked the most. Everyone has preferences, and blind taste tests bring out those preferences!
1 – Multiclass Classification of Agro-Ecological Zones for Arabica Coffee: An Improved Understanding of the Impacts of Climate Change, October 27, 2015, PLOS ONE Journal
2 – World Coffee Research website, https://worldcoffeeresearch.org/work/, Coffee Disease & Pests section.