Maragogipe Coffee Variety
The Maragogipe is a rare Arabica varietal originating in Brazil. It’s often known as “elephant bean coffee,” thanks to its extra-large coffee beans. But size isn’t the only distinguishing feature of this unusual coffee.
This guide digs into the background of the Maragogipe variety, why you’re unlikely to find it in stores, and what flavours to expect if you’re lucky enough to secure a bag.
What is the Maragogipe Coffee Variety?
Maragogipe – also sometimes spelt Maragogype – is among the many Arabica coffee varieties. It’s a natural mutation of the Typica variety, like Kent coffee. Maragogipe takes its name from the Brazilian city of Maragogipe, where they first discovered it in 1870.
Maragogipe has large coffee beans and exceptional cup quality when grown at elevations above 1300 meters. Because of its large beans, it is sometimes known as “Elephant Bean Coffee (1).” Despite these selling points, Maragogipe is rarely cultivated commercially due to low yields and high susceptibility to pests and diseases. It is better known as the parent of several more valuable hybrids (2).
This video provides an atmospheric look at how Maragogipe is grown and how its cultivation impacts the community at origin:
Hybrid Varietals Derived from Maragogipe
The most widely cultivated hybrids bred from Maragogipe are Pacamara and Maracaturra. Both maintain excellent cup quality and large beans of Maragogipe while producing higher yields. Unfortunately, they also retain the pest and disease susceptibility of their parent.
- Pacamara is a hybrid of the Maragogipe and Pacas varietals. It was created in El Salvador by the Salvadoran Institute of Coffee Research and continues to be grown primarily in that country.
- Maracaturra is a natural hybrid of the Maragogipe and Caturra varietals first found in Nicaragua. It is now grown in Brazil, Nicaragua, and El Salvador.
Where is Maragogipe Grown?
Maragogipe beans are rare but still grown in Mexico, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. The highest-regarded Maragogipe beans come from Chiapas, Mexico, and Coban, Guatemala.
Even though Maragogipe isn’t one of the most commercially valuable coffee varieties, the Coffee Review Buying Guide experts argue that it still warrants our attention.
Maragogipe is a romantic’s coffee curiosity, and deserves respect on that ground alone.
If you can try premium Maragogype coffee, don’t let it pass you by.
The flavour of Maragogipe beans depend on the growing region more than other coffee varieties. So the reviews of the bean are pretty challenging to interpret.
Maragogipe is often noted as tasting thin and weakly acidic when grown in poor soil – hardly a compelling description. But in more fertile conditions, it develops a richer flavour, usually with sweet notes of stone fruit and honey.
The flavours of Maragogipe are subtle, so light or medium roast is ideal for enhancing rather than overpowering them.
Many brewing methods are suitable, but we suggest a pour-over dripper like the Hario V60, Chemex, or Clever. Pour overs reveal the complex flavours, naturally smooth body, and clean cup of the best Maragogipe coffees.
The Maragogipe variety is rare due to its low yields and disease susceptibility. These days, it is better known for its contribution to the Pacamara and Maracaturra hybrids. But if you can get your hands on some of these “elephant coffee beans,” you’re in for a real treat. Maragogipe yields a smooth, clean cup with rich flavours and a gentle sweetness.
The four types of coffee are Arabica, Robusta, Liberica, and Excelsa, although Excelsa has recently been reclassified as a type of Liberica. Only Arabica and Robusta are important commercial crops.
The best type of coffee is Arabica, though some coffee experts might argue the case for rare varieties like Liberica and Excelsa. Arabica is known for its well-balanced sweetness and acidity and offers pleasing flavours like fruits, florals, nuts, and chocolates.
Yes, you can make espresso with Maragogipe, but it isn’t a popular choice for most palates. The best Maragogipe coffee has a light body, subtle flavours, and bright acidity that doesn’t correspond to the creamy mouthfeel and chocolatey or nutty flavours of classic espresso.
- Coffee Review. (n.d.). Anomalies: Maragogipe (Elephant Beans). Retrieved from https://www.coffeereview.com/coffee-reference/coffee-categories/anomalies/maragogipe-elephant-beans/
- World Coffee Research. (n.d.). Maragogipe. Retrieved from https://varieties.worldcoffeeresearch.org/varieties/magarogipe