If you are a coffee-lover and don’t know about the types of coffee beans used in the coffee you brewed, I’m sorry but you’re not the coffee aficionado you claim to be. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
In this post, we’ll cover the four main types of coffee beans and also take a look at what sets them apart from each other. After reading this, you’ll not only know the major types but will also have enough knowledge to start conversations about them.
If you’re in for a quick answer, the four main types of coffee beans are Arabica, Robusta, Liberica, and Excelsa. Most people are aware of the first two and don’t know much about the others. I was also unaware of them until I started reading about coffee.
Let me take you through each type one by one:
1. Arabica (The mother of all beans)
These are the most widely consumed coffee beans around the globe. The superior quality and taste that these beans provide are simply beyond any explanation.
You’ve got to try it for yourself! Chances are, you’ve already consumed it if you’ve been having coffee as most coffee shops roast Arabica beans to prepare their brew.
According to the facts that I found:
“More than 60% of the coffee consumed in the world is made using Arabica beans.”
Arabica beans have Ethiopian origin (A small country in the African continent). To be specific, a tribe named Oromo used to eat these beans. Their purpose was to energize their bodies for the tedious tasks they used to perform.
Later, these beans traveled to the Middle East through various sources. From here, they gained unprecedented popularity hence the name “Arabica”
Most people who haven’t tried these beans consider them to be sour in taste; however, these are mild with an air of sweetness about them. These are perfect for beginners who develop a preference for strong coffee later on in their coffee journey.
If you like chocolate, you’d also find traces of its taste in the coffee brewed using Arabica. There’s also a bit of acidity and bitterness, but overall, the mildness overpowers these tendencies.
Roasting time and method also affect their taste so you can’t have a standard explanation for the taste.
Climate For Growth
Arabica coffee beans are difficult to grow in harsh climates and just like their taste, they prefer mild climates. The ideal temperature needed for these to grow is around 20 degrees Celsius.
The ideal location to grow them is hillside and/ or much above sea level. These are slow to grow and take around 6-7 years to mature and become ripe. These plants can be more than 5 meters tall.
There are two beans inside each cherry and when the cherries are red in color, it shows they are ripe and are ready to be harvested. As per the climate preferences, the best areas to grow these beans are South American countries like Brazil and Mexico.
This is another major type of coffee bean that you should know. Honestly, if you know about Arabica and Robusta as a coffee snob, it should be enough because these two combined make up for 98% of the coffee beans produced around the world.
If you are an espresso fan, you’d know about this type because most of the espresso coffee that you brew at home, it’s from roasted and finely ground Robusta beans.
As compared to Arabica, Robusta beans are not heavy on your pocket. So if you are a bit tight on budget, you should go for these.
Robusta beans are produced mainly in the Sub-Saharan region of Africa. It is also produced in the South East Asian country called Vietnam. Indonesia is also known to produce these beans.
In contrast to Arabica beans, Robusta beans are stronger and bitterer in taste. The caffeine content in these beans is also high; therefore, it’s used to brew a hot steaming cup of espresso.
These plants are resilient in nature and can survive extreme weather, unlike Arabica beans which need mild temperature. It’s an interesting observation that the climate in which they are grown affects their taste profile.
For instance, Arabica beans grow well in mild climates and also have a mild taste. On the other hand, Robusta beans typically withstand the challenges of weather and their taste is also bitter.
Another notable feature of their growth is that not all the cherries in a plant ripen at the same time, so hand-picking them is the best way forward for these. These also take less time to mature than Arabica beans i.e. two to three years.
These come as a distant third as compared to the types explained above. If you guessed that the name has got something to do with Liberia, you are right! But the production of the beans is not limited to this country only, the Western African region also produces these beans.
Today, these beans are being produced across various continents through cross-pollination.
There is a woody and unique floral taste about them, it could be inspired by the plants they grow in or from the environment where these are produced.
Unlike the previous two types, Liberica is a bit difficult to find commercially. There are very limited brands that offer these beans. Not only is there exclusivity about them, but they are also endangered as a species.
These plants are very tall and some of them are 1300 meters tall. The ripening of the plants takes more than 5 years.
This is not really a different type of coffee bean as the “coffee experts” recently classified it as just another variant of the Liberica.
It’s sourced from South East Asian countries and typically grows in very large trees. Their
If we estimate the combined production of these beans and Liberica, together they might constitute around 5% of the total in the world.
These are smaller in size than Liberica and it’s rarely consumed as the only coffee ingredient. Usually, it’s mixed with other types such as Robusta or Arabica to create a unique blend.
These have a fruity flavor, maybe inspired by the plant in which they grow.
Points to Consider Before Purchasing
Now that you know about the various types, here are a few points to keep in mind the next time you go shopping for your beans:
- If you are a beginner and want to develop a taste for coffee, you might have to pay a few extra bucks, but Arabica would serve you the best.
- Are you a coffee aficionado and don’t mind the bitter taste (your palates are developed)? You should go for Robusta, these are budget-friendly and will satisfy your caffeine cravings.
- If you are bored of your regular flavors and want to try something totally different, then hunting for Liberica or Excelsa would be your best option. Getting a hold of these might be a challenge, but you have to make the effort if you really want to try it out!
That was all about the types of coffee beans you should know especially if you are a beginner in the coffee world. We covered the topic extensively.
Do comment below if you liked the information and experience I shared in this post. I’d love to hear from you on this topic.
See you in another coffee-related post.