Scientists and coffee growers try to combine the best properties of Arabica and Robusta coffee plants by selectively breeding and grafting coffee trees. This is accomplished by controlling the pollination of the plants; taking cuttings from plants and grafting them. Recently they have begun using DNA technology to introduce new characteristics such as resistance to insects and improved flavour.
A few of these hybrids are now in active production. Hibrido de Timor is a natural hybrid of Arabica and Robusta. It has the Arabica flavour and some of the hardiness of the Robusta plant.
Another hybrid is Catimor. This coffee is resistant to leaf rust and was produced by crossing Caturra and Hibrido de Timor.
Ruira Eleven is a hybrid that was developed in Kenya and has been commercially grown since 1985. It is a high-yielding plant and resistant to disease.
Arabica and Robusta hybrids have been combined to produce Icatu hybrids. These are the result of backcrossing the Arabica/Robusta hybrids with Mundo Nova and Caturra varieties.
The aims of coffee breeding are to produce coffee plants which have superior cup quality, resistance to disease and drought, improved caffeine content, yield and bean size.
Wrigley, Gordon. 1988. Coffee. New York: John Wiley and Sons.
The book of coffee and tea: second revised edition by Joel Schapira, et al.
Three kilos of coffee: an autobiography by Manu Dibango, et al.
Hybrids by Robert J. Sawyer.