Everyone loves the aromatic flavor of coffee in the morning. It is a staple drink for most people and a cup of coffee is usually part of our daily routine. It wakes us up in the morning and energizes us all throughout the day. Some even drink it after breakfast or during the night if they wanted to stay up late. But despite its popularity, many people still ask where coffee comes from and the types of coffee beans.
Coffee is a plant and its beans are taken from the vibrant red coffee cherry plant. The various parts of the coffee cherry have different effects on the processing method and on the final coffee product. If you wanted to know more about coffee and where it came from, let’s discuss the basic structure of coffee cherry to learn more about our well-loved beverage.
Types of Coffee Beans: A Comprehensive Overview
Coffee trees grow up to 30 ft or 9 m. However, coffee growers cut and stump the plants to prevent it from getting taller thus conserving its energy that will be beneficial during the harvesting season. Shorter trees save space and they create better quality yield.
A coffee cherry plant has green, waxy leaves. The leaves grow in pairs and the coffee cherries dangle along its branches. The plant has many varieties but usually, a coffee plant produces fruit after three to four years. According to the National Coffee Association USA, an average coffee tree can produce 10 lbs of coffee cherry every year, which is equal to 2 lbs of green beans.
However, coffee comes in different variations and the beans have different characteristics as well. These differences affect the taste and aroma of the coffee. There are many factors that influence their differences like flavor, size, and disease resistance. Discussed below are the four primary types of coffee beans in the market namely Robusta, Arabica, Excelsa, and Liberica.
The 4 Main Types of Coffee Beans
Have you purchased a bag of specialized coffee beans with a label that says 100% Arabica coffee? Do you know what it actually meant? Or you are just like most coffee lovers who think that it is the only variant of coffee bean available in the market so you grab it without knowing its background.
Normally, as long as it tastes like coffee, people will buy it. However, you need to be aware that there are more than 100 coffee species that exist. The most well-known variant of coffee beans are the Robusta and Arabica, while the less known are the Excelsa and Liberica. We will dive deeper into each of this coffee bean and find out their differences.
Arabica - Coffea Arabica
Arabica coffee bean holds 60% of the overall coffee production in the world. It is the most commonly produced coffee bean and thus it is quite popular in the market. Arabica beans are cultivated at places that are located in high altitudes because it requires plenty of rainfall and reasonable amount of sunlight. Arabica trees are simple to grow since they are small and easy to trim. Normally, the tree stands at only 6’ which makes them easy to harvest. Coffea Arabica bush is cultivated in different parts of the world.
The bean of the Arabica coffee is incredibly rich in flavor. However, it still depends on the region it is grown. For instance, the Sumatra Jagong blend that is cultivated and harvested in Sumatra, Indonesia was included in the Blue Coffee Subscription box because it has the flavor of dark chocolate, orange, and rose.
When you brew an Arabica coffee in your home, see to it that you choose the variant which has low acidity and full body. Arabica coffee is less caffeinated and it has a milder flavor compared to other coffee beans. Aside from that, it is also best served hot using a drip coffee technique or pour-over drip. Serving it cold or with a creamer will decrease its flavor. Some of the famous variants of Arabica coffee include Bourbon, Typica, Blue Mountain, and Caturra.
Robusta - Coffea Caniphora
Just like its name, the Robusta coffee bean has a high tolerance to diseases and its environment. It can survive in multifarious altitudes yet it is best grown in areas where rainfall is limited and the climate is hot. Robusta coffee beans have double the amount of caffeine that you can get from Arabica beans. As a matter of fact, caffeine is the primary component that makes Robusta plants vigorous and strong. Caffeine gives this plant immunity against harmful diseases.
The ideal way to drink Robusta coffee is to taste it using the back palate because that is where bitterness is well recognized, which provides it a heavier kick. Premium quality Robusta beans have low acidity, fine texture, and it usually has a little hint of chocolate as seen on its flavor profile.
Compared to Arabica beans, it has a fewer amount of oil which gives it a bitter taste and heightens its acidity. This is why it is usually the key ingredients in creating strong coffee beverages such as espresso. You can buy a bag of Robusta beans and enjoy it when you brew with your home espresso machine.
Aside from that, it is also utilized in most beverages found in the supermarket since it is less expensive compared to Arabica coffee beans. This is because it contains more caffeine which is at least 50% compared to Arabica.
One of the most popular and well-loved Robusta blends is the Myanmar NguShwelli SL34 which has a hint of toffee, green apple, and plum. Good quality Robusta beans have a unique quality which sets it apart from Arabica beans. It doesn’t lose its flavor when it is combined with sugar or milk and that makes it better. This is why it is ideal for making Iced coffee and Vietnamese coffee.
You’ll know its premium quality Robusta coffee bean when its flavor stays despite adding sugar or milk. This is the ideal option for coffee lovers who like to add a dash of sugar and cream to their drink.
Liberica - Coffea Liberica
Liberica coffee beans is not common in the coffee industry these days, however, this variant still holds a significant role in the world’s coffee culture.
It was in 1890 when more than 90% of the world’s Arabica supply was severely destroyed due to coffee rust. Looking for a solution to address this disaster, farmers and government officials depended on the Liberica plant to salvage their losses. The Philippines, which was a U.S. territory at that time, was the first country to utilize the plant for coffee production.
This saved the Philippine’s economy from downfall since they were the only country that supply coffee to different parts of the world. The Liberica plant greatly helped the Philippines rise from such an economic catastrophe.
Liberica beans have prominent features that can’t be seen in other species of coffee beans. The bean has a pretty big size and it is asymmetric. We all know most coffee beans are symmetric but Liberica has one side that is lower than the other which creates a small hook at the bottom of its bean. It is the only species of coffee bean that has an irregular shape.
In addition, Liberica’s almond-shaped beans emit an incredible aroma, which is somehow a mixture of fruity and floral smell. It also gives off a rich and smokey flavor. This specific taste profile makes Liberia bean different from all the other species of coffee beans in the world.
Most people who buy Liberica coffee bean utilizes it to combine with other kinds of bean including the Robusta and Arabica, which gives it an even powerful boost to your morning cup of coffee.
For coffee lovers who have tried Liberica coffee, usually say that it is incomparable to other coffee they tasted before. Some of them even say that it does not taste like the usual coffee they had before, it is somehow packed with a flavorful woody taste which they enjoy since it is unique. Liberica coffee beans are perfect for those who want to try a new coffee experience.
Excelsa - Coffea Excelsa
Recently, a new member of the Liberica species has been re-classified and it is the Excelsa coffee bean. If you closely look at this coffee bean, you’ll find out that it does have a lot of similarities to Liberia.
Excelsa is considered as a family of the Liberica and it is mostly grown in Southeast Asia. It is not very popular since it only represents the 7% of the coffee production in the world. However, it is commonly used in blends to provide an added boost of flavor and aroma to the coffee, which specifically targets the back and middle palate. Excelsa bean is said to have an acidic and fruity body, which perfectly represents the flavor of a light roast which also has a hint of dark roasted notes.
Which Type Fits You Most
If you are a true coffee expert, you will like to take note of the differences and similarities of each variation of coffee beans and their flavors. Ideally, you can do this by trying out different premium coffees and identifying each of their qualities and taste profiles. If you are a novice, you might still be asking “what is cappuccino?” But this is a temporary condition, as long as you continue studying coffee beans and beverages.
Building your sense of taste also requires building your vocabulary. Knowing what is in your drink is also part of the entire coffee experience. You are not only enjoying your favorite cup of joe, you are also learning along the way.
If you want to have regular cappuccino, you might want to consider buying the best cappuccino machine along with the beans necessary for the beverage. There are many other things you can learn from a single coffee drink. Details such as the processing method, region, variants, altitude, roast profile, and whether it has a hint of other flavors are worth noting.
Don’t forget to take down notes. Once you know the different kinds of coffee beans in the market, you’ll be able to determine the right flavor profile that is perfect for your own morning coffee. With this, you’ll be able to personalize your coffee experience.
Familiarize yourself with the wide array of coffee flavors and roasting techniques. You can even order your own bag of coffee beans in the supermarket or online shops to try it yourself. Now that you know about the different types of coffee beans, it’s time to choose the ideal blend to start off your morning.