Coffee News & Culture

Coffea Stenophylla: The Unknown Coffee

Among the 124 species of coffee, Coffea Stenophylla rests as a mystery in terms of its flavor and likelihood of survival into the future.

Most of the coffee that is currently consumed throughout the world is of the Arabica or Robusta species. Arabica is known for it’s higher quality and more fruity and floral flavors, while Robusta is known for it’s more bitter earthy flavors.

While those are primarily the only two species found on the market, there are actually 124 different species of the coffee plant. Coffea Stenophylla is one of them that has actually been for many years a mystery.

Coffea Stenophylla, otherwise known as the Highland Coffee of Sierra Leone, is believed to primarily reside in the forests of West Africa, however, even within those forests, it is very difficult to come across it. There is almost no material written on this species of coffee until recent years.

Related image
Coffea Stenophylla Cherries. Photo by Jardin Mundani

It is currently believed that there are only a handful of Coffea Stenophylla trees worldwide which has caused green coffee buyers, roasters, and baristas alike to become very interested in its future prospects.

With no significant recorded data on the flavor or taste of these species; it’s prospects for a cup of coffee that rivals that of Arabica is almost completely unknown.

Dr. Timothy Schilling of World Coffee Research Institute states that it’s “supposed to be incredible” and could “prove a formidable rival of the Arabica coffee”, however, the only real information we have on it is recorded by word of mouth from locals that had family members that use to drink it regularly back in the 1800s.

An Early Photo of a Coffea Stenophylla Plant.

At the moment, the priority is simply to preserve the plant and work towards sustainability in the forests where it grows so that we can hopefully prolong its life to see the possibilities it holds. According to the IUCN Red List, it has an increasing threat due to deforestation and human encroachment in its natural habitat and its future is in very real danger.

Hopefully, there will be a day when instead of writing about whether or not it will make it into the future, I will instead be able to write about its flavors, after it has survived and been able to prosper long enough for us to enjoy its fruit.

Cheers to Coffea Stenophylla.

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21 comments on “Coffea Stenophylla: The Unknown Coffee

  1. I am learning so much, keep up the good work. 👍

  2. I am a very scientifically-oriented person, I love the natural world. I truly enjoy a post such as this, I can count on timely, accurate information from coffee made better! Thanks for a great blog!!

    • Glad that you enjoyed it! It was fun learning about it myself! Thanks for always staying so engaged; I always look forward to hearing your comments!

  3. Incredible

  4. Thanks for an educational look. Any clues as to how it compares in flavor to an Arabica?

    • Your welcome! At this point in time, there was only one documented review of it in the early 19th century that stated “it could rival arabica” however, the review wasn’t from a super credited source. Once they have gotten the species under control, there will surely be cupping to see if there is any real validity to it!

    • James Henley

      According to James Hoffman (he actually tried some)
      Smell: “There is a very sweet kind of caramel quality to it. There is a little bit of floral kind of aromas in there too, and there is a kind of interesting peachiness to it that’s really quite applealing. There is none, none of the earty, woody, rubbery kind of smells that you might expect with other species, species like robusta. None of the kind of weirdness you might’ve had if you’ve tried some of the libericas out there.
      Cupping notes: It has a lightness to it, it doesn’t have a huge heavy body. It’s quite light and bright and sweet, and kind of open and fresh tasting, almost… it is ultimately a clean, sweet tasting coffee that has some acidity. It’s got some florality, it’s got some fruit to it, a kind of stone fruit, kind of peachy quality that is pleasant, enjoyable, it’s a really nice cup.

  5. Guam is at 13 North. Always hot, usually humid. Any suggestions how to start?

    • Oh yea; that would be a great place to start! Well personally, I think you should just grab a few coffee trees and see how they do in your soil. Look around for the nearest coffee farm to you and ask them for basic suggestions for your particular climate.

      • um yeah, no coffee farms here on Guam, that was the entire point.

        • Here is what I have read about it: “Coffee production in Guam is a little different than coffee production elsewhere. For starters it does not get exported. It is limited to local consumption only and the local variety cannot be found anywhere else in the world. But coffee is easy to grow in Guam. It is well-adapted to the soil and requires little care from humans to thrive. Most families have their own cultivated patch in the 20th century and the coffee can grow on hills or even near sea level, in shade and in the sun without any problem. In the 20th century it was one of the most common plants found on Guam.”

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