Caturra is a natural hybrid of Bourbon but was further developed for wide-spread cultivation by the Alcides Carvalho Coffee Center (Centro de Cafe) of the Instituto Agronomico (IAC) of Sao Paulo State in Brazil. The cultivar has been responsible for profound changes and improvement in the coffee industry worldwide.
In 1937, IAC received seed samples of unknown genetic materials originating on the borders of the states of Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo. Research revealed the seeds to be the result of natural mutation of Red Bourbon trees found in the Serra do Caparaó, which is now a mountainous National Park north east of the city of Rio de Janeiro.
This mutation – the first naturally occurring coffee mutation ever found – forms the foundation of all of today’s Red Caturra and Yellow Caturra cultivars.
Caturra produces a higher yield than Bourbon – generally due to the plant being shorter and with shorter distances between the branches – but it requires extensive care and fertilization.
It generally matures more quickly and is more disease resistant than older, traditional arabica varieties, as well.
In fact, the ‘caturra-type’ mutation is not unique; similar mutations have produced the Pacas variety in El Salvador (from Bourbon) and Villa Sarchi in Costa Rica (from Bourbon). Genetically, in all cases, the mutations remain very similar to Bourbon.
Like Bourbon, Caturra adapts well to most coffee growing environments but does best between 1,200 and 2,000 meters above sea level in areas with annual precipitation between 2,500 to 3,500 mm. At higher altitudes quality increases, but production decreases.
The name Caturra in Portuguese refers to a species of Parrot. In Spanish it would translate to “Cotorra” or “Perico”. Thus, most likely, it refers to domestic birds of the calopsita or Cockatiel species. In street language, it means a difficult person, who likes to contradict and argue for nothing. In Spanish, a “Cotorra” can also mean someone who is very talkative and noisy.
Caturra Velmelho (Red Caturra)
Caturra Amarelo (Yellow Caturra) – Yellow Caturra cherries reportedly ripen faster than those of Red Caturra, also its ripe berries drop more quickly than those of red Caturra. The yellow color is caused by recessive gene.
Caturra ‘Lerdo’ – A mutation discovered recently in Costa Rica