Just like grapes and hops have different types, so do coffee plants! If genus and species aren't your cup of tea, we're here to make it a little bit easier to understand. We're starting with SL-28 for one very good reason: it's our roaster J's favorite!
Here's what he has to say about it:
SL-28 gets its name from Scott Laboratories, which cultivated and distributed SL-28 in 1931. It was first identified growing wild in the Monduli District inside of the Arusha Region of Tanzania by the border with Kenya. It was flagged because the region was in the middle of a drought and the coffee was still thriving. Testing by Scott Laboratories confirmed that it was a drought-resistant strain derived from the bourbon varietal that had changed while growing wild in isolation. The drought resistance makes it ideal for Eastern African production. Combined with little nutrition needed, high productivity, and high quality it became the gold standard for coffee in the region.
While it can be vulnerable to disease and coffee rust, if it is maintained appropriately, its heartiness allows SL-28 trees to be productive for 80+ years! In comparison, most coffee varietals cease being productive after 7-20 years. This makes SL-28 one of the most sustainable varietals of coffee in the world.