Coffee is an all-rounder beverage that people love anywhere in the world. Each country has developed its unique coffee blend and drinks. Coffee has always intrigued and attracts us with its aroma and bittersweet taste. It is one of the oldest drinks in the world existing for about 1200 years. It is grown in more than 70 countries, and the interest in this drink has become quite prominent even with the younger generation. But do we know the kind of coffee that we are drinking? How many types of coffee beans do you know of, and have you tried brewing coffee using other contraptions aside from your usual coffee machine?
Let’s get to know more about our beloved drink, from the beans, the brews, and the roasts. What are they, how do they differ, and how they affect the taste of your favorite drinks. Once you get to know and understand your coffee better, you can appreciate your brew even more, and maybe, you’ll find the perfect blend that suits your best.
As you cruise through shelves in your local supermarket, you might have noticed coffee bags labeled as “Arabica” or “Robusta.” Most people do not give importance to these, but there are actually several types of coffee beans, and they can be brewed differently to achieve a specific taste and texture. The most common type of coffee beans around is Arabica, and it accounts for up to 70% of the global production. But there are other types of coffees grown around the world, and some countries are known for the kind of beans they produce.
Understanding categories, roasting profiles, and sources of origin can help you identify the kind of coffee you like. Let’s start with the types of coffees and the distinct characteristics of each one of the types.
What are the Different Types of Coffee
There are four basic types of coffee beans, and they are Arabica, Robusta, Liberica, and Excelsa.
This coffee type is the most common and heavily marketed in North America. It has a distinct sweet and delicate flavor, but it is also less acidic compared with the others. Arabica beans are cultivated in places with high elevations and where there is abundant rain. For instance, Brazil, with its lush rainforests, is one of the world’s premier producers of Arabica coffee beans. This plant is fairly delicate; thus, it is considered to be a high-end coffee product. It needs constant attention, pruning, and it can be sensitive to environmental factors. This coffee species are also prone to plant diseases, too; thus, farming can be a challenge. All these issues with farming can drive up the cost of coffee beans in the global market.
On the other hand, consumers are happy to spend extra to taste their sweet and soft coffee. More so, this popular but sensitive coffee has a reputation for a diminished taste when served blended or cold with steamed milk and creamer.
Coffea Canephora or Robusta
Robusta coffee beans fall second in world production. It is very popular in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. It is known for its strength, and often harsh profile flavor. Robusta contains high levels of caffeine, making this plant more resilient than Arabica coffee. Caffeine helps eliminate major plant threats and works as a natural insect repellent. This coffee species are tolerant of the environment, and it can grow in any climate or altitudes. It has a burn or rubbery taste profile. Thus it is not very popular with the common consumers, but it is preferred by those who like strong coffee. And since it is easier to cultivate and harvest, farmers usually reap higher profits by selling Robusta. It is typically used for instant coffee and fillers for dark roasts and espresso shots.
On the other hand, there are times when high-quality Robusta becomes available in grocery stores. These are normally single-origin coffee, which is crafted by small-batch roasters. Excellent Robusta coffee has hints of rum and chocolate in its coffee profile. This type of coffee is an ideal choice if you need a daily dose of caffeine, and it is best served with steamed milk, cream, and sugar.
Liberica coffee is cultivated in specific climates. Thus they are rarely grown by farmers and can hardly satisfy a global market. This type of coffee has a pleasantly fruity and flowery aroma. Likewise, it also features a woody taste profile in your cup of coffee.
At some point in history, Liberica coffee beans became very popular. A plant disease called “coffee rust” affected most Arabica plants worldwide. And since coffee is a strong commodity, merchants set forth to find quality alternatives to the Arabica coffee. The Philippines was the first country to produce Liberica coffee at a noteworthy volume and became the sole supplier worldwide. On the other hand, Liberica production and supply soon died as the country was met with steep economic sanctions and scarcity of supplies due to its independence as a US Territory.
Coffee Liberica va Dewevrei of Excelsa
The fourth type of coffee on our list is the Excelsa. It is typically under the Liberica family, but it is a distinct species. It is commonly cultivated in Southeast Asian countries and represents a small volume of the world’s coffee production. It features a fruitier and tart flavor, which is attributed to both light and dark roasts profiles. This coffee type is often preferred by coffee enthusiasts.
Countries Growing Different Coffee Types
Coffee is a commodity that is consumed worldwide. Each country has a specific type of coffee grown and produced based on its environment and climate. Here are some details about coffees in different countries.
Vietnam - This country is one of the top exporters of Robusta coffee in the world. The people loved its strong, bold taste profile. Many consider this country to be the native land of this coffee plant.
Indonesia - This country is often associated with unique coffee types. They produce as much as 660,000,000 kilos of Arabica and Robusta for export in a year, making it one of the largest producers in the global market.
Brazil - this country is one of the top coffee-producing countries in the world. They are known to yield high-quality Arabica coffee beans because of their premium growing location. Brazil produced more than 2M tons of coffee in a year. Most people prefer coffee from this country because it is low in acidity.
India - This country grows soft-tasting and low-acidity Arabica and Robusta coffee beans abundantly. It grows in the southern region of the country.
Columbia - this country also has a fair share in the world’s coffee production. It places next to Brazil by producing 810,000,000 kg of coffee per year. They are known for the Columbian Supremo and Extra coffee beans.
Ethiopia - this country has one of the oldest coffee cultures dating back to 800 AD. Some historical findings even point to Ethiopia as the homeland of coffee cultivation. In ancient times, people in this country observed goats eating coffee beans. They started boiling this berry and drank it. At present, this country has prized coffee plants that yield delicious coffee, producing about 384,000,000 kg per year.
Uganda produces Arabica and Robusta coffee beans that resemble the taste and aroma of African coffee. However, it is not as popular as Ethiopian or Kenyan coffee. Their most popular coffee product is Bugisu coffee.
Preparing Different Coffee Drinks
Everyone has their preferred coffee drink as prepared by their favorite cafe or shops. But if you are stuck at home, it might be a good idea to know how to brew your coffee. Preparing coffee drinks should not only be a Barista skill, but it might also be a life-changing skill for many coffee-loving non-baristas. Apart from getting those fancy coffee makers, there are simple means of coffee preparation that will give you fuller flavors and allow you to adjust your liking taste profile.
There are many ways to prepare coffee, but the most important thing is that you have high-quality ingredients. Make sure to have fresh and whole beans, then grind them to the optimal grind size before brewing. A rough grind works well with a French press, while shots of espresso requires fine ground coffee. Different types of coffee drinks have their own optimal size grind. More so, take note of the best coffee-to-water ratio and the best temperature for brewing.
The French Coffee Press
Using a coffee press is the simplest method of brewing coffee. To prepare, you will steep the coffee grounds in boiled water before it is pressed out. This classic way to prepare coffee allows you to customize the strength of your drink. Typically, using the coffee press will yield a strong cup of joe because the beans do not pass through a filter.
The Moka Pot
The Moka pot is a type of stove-top coffee maker that uses steam pressure in producing espresso-like coffee. It brews by allowing pressurized water to pass through the grounds. This coffee pot is typically made with aluminum material that keeps heat within. It is a relatively inexpensive item, and there is no need for electricity to make a strong and delicious coffee.
Pour-over coffee preparation is one of the oldest methods of brewing. The drink is produced by pouring over hot water through coffee grounds, which is placed in a filter that allows it to drip slowly. It may take several tries for you to achieve your preferred brew strength and taste. It uses fine to a medium grind and produces a smooth and nuanced brew.
Most home coffee machines are drip type coffee makers. These pass hot water over the coffee grounds in a filter. The coffee is easy to prepare, and usually served hot and plain. For breakfast, add milk for more flavor.
There are several more methods to and contraptions to use if you want to explore brewing and coffee making to the next level. It may take some practice for you to discover the right combination of coffee quality, grind, water temperature, and water to coffee ratio to come up with your perfect brew. Once you get the hang of coffee brewing, you might never consider fixing instant coffee anymore.
Different Kinds of Coffee Roasts
The coffee plant produces berries as fruits, but unlike other fruits, it is not consumed straight from the plant. For you to enjoy a delicious drink, coffee beans should first be roasted, ground, and brewed.
Several methods of roasting vary from the simple use of a pan over a fire to complicated and expensive air roasting used by coffee shops and roasters. Coffee roasting has become an art, but science is also used to get the right kind of roast. For mass-produced coffee, the roast is based on standard techniques to produce standardized coffee. On the other hand, custom roasting values the beans’ flavor profiles and maximizes it through roasting.
Consequently, there are three major types of coffee roasts. Any other terms, such as French roasts, or breakfast blend, generally fall on any of the main categories.
Light Roasts - this is the most common type of roast variety. It is the first stage of cracking and expansion of the beans; thus, they look pale and dry-looking. Coffee produced using light roast beans has less body, more acidity, and a more varied flavor profile.
Medium Roast - beans on medium roast are dry, but with more sweetness because of caramelization. It has a fuller body with lower acidity. The medium roast has a more compressed flavor profile and a pronounced bitterness. Some examples of this are breakfast roast, American, and regular roast coffee.
Dark or Full Roast - this roast method allows the beans to reach a “second crack” and have an oily sheen. These types of beans now have a more pronounced roasted profile. You will notice spicy notes as well as a thicker and oily mouth-feel. Some examples of this are Continental, French Roast, Italian Espresso, and Viennese.
Double Roast - this type of roasting process allows beans to reach a point where it begins to smoke. They would taste smoky or charred with a bit of the original flavor. It has some sweetness and less body compared to the medium-dark roast.
Espresso Roast - this one is a class of its own. It is roasted as higher temperature and pressure using the espresso machine. One can use the combined caramelization of medium-dark and the dark roast of the Viennese, Full City, Italian or French Roast to have an espresso.
Coffee Differences in Brewing
We have previously mentioned some of the easiest methods to brew coffee. There are different brewing methods, and each of these processes works well with a certain grind consistency and produces a different kind of blend.
If you are wondering about the different types of coffee drinks served at your favorite coffee shop, here are some ideas on what goes into your cup.
Espresso - brewing shots of espresso allows you to amplify the flavors of your favorite coffee. It uses pressure to produce a concentrated coffee by forcing hot water through a compacted, finely ground coffee. A shot of espresso is smaller in serving, and the caffeine content is typically lower than a standard cup. A shot of espresso is usually drank in a business-like manner while still warm, and not nursed till it is cold.
Caffe Americano - this type of drink is simply prepared using hot water and a shot of espresso.
Cafe Latte - this drink is a popular beverage for coffee drinkers. It can be served as an iced coffee drink or a hot cup of coffee. It uses a shot of espresso and scalding steamed milk. This drink is also different from a flat white.
Cappuccino - is probably the most popular coffee drink. It consists of three layers - an espresso shot, steamed milk, and foamy milk. Some baristas would add shavings of chocolate.
French Press Coffee - this brewer uses hot water and plunger to press the coffee and create a bold drink from the grounds. You can draw different types of coffee drinks with the simple french press coffee.
Iced Coffee Drinks - your favorite coffee shops also serve various coffee drinks that use hot brew and then cooled before serving. It can be mixed with whipped cream, steamed milk, and syrup. In most instances, an espresso shot is used as the base for the iced coffee drink.
Flat White - to prepare this coffee drink, baristas use creamy steamed milk over a shot of espresso.
Long Black - this drink uses a double shot of espresso over a certain amount of water. It is a strong coffee drink with more crema from the shots of espresso.
Macchiato our Piccolo Coffee Latte - this drink is a shot of espresso topped with foamed milk. It should be like a cappuccino, but it is stronger because there is no steamed milk. It is also served in an espresso cup.
Mochaccino - start with an espresso shot to make a latte, then add chocolate syrup or powder, and topped with whipped cream. It can be served hot or a variety of iced coffee drinks.
Filter Coffee - this trendy type of drink is best served on cold brew. Ground coffee is allowed to steep in cold or hot water for 12 hours before filtering it out. It is less harsh than a shot of espresso and can be served black or with steamed milk.
Irish - this is a different type of coffee as it is served with a thick layer of cream on top, sugar, and Irish whiskey.
Vienna - this drink is a mix of two espressos shot and whipped cream. It melds the bold flavors of the espresso shot and the velvety texture of the cream.
Affogato - these are not exactly a coffee variety but use shots of espresso over ice cream then topped with syrup and nuts. Even if its not on the coffee shop menu, you can ask for this and the barista might make it for you.
Some of the drinks are variations of a theme. These start with a shot of espresso, and add steamed milk or froth. The differences occur with the varying ratios of espresso, water, steamed milk, froth and the order of preparation. Other embellishments include chocolate, cream, and cinnamon powder. Those recipes which call for froth or steamed milk are best done with espresso machines since these have spouts or wands dedicated to providing froth or steamed milk. Double shot of espresso changes the flavor as well, and could not be easily balanced by doubling the other ingredients.
These are just some of the drinks that are commonly served in cafes. Some drinks like the flat white and ice cream with espresso shot seem easy to recreate at home. Ice cream over coffee is an indulgence and can be served over dessert. You can have ice cream on coffee at your favorite coffee shop. Other drinks are trickier because of the use of foamed milk or steamed milk. These drinks provide a light texture and flavor to the espresso base. Drinks with steamed milk have more character than regular coffee with milk or cream. However, when it comes to choosing the best brewing method, the decision is more anchored on your personal preferences.
There is no single way to produce the best-tasting coffee, and it is recommended that you try out several methods first for you to find your preferred flavor profile. More so, your need for convenience also affects your brewing options. Some people love drip coffee, while others prefer a double shot of espresso on their iced coffee drink.
What is the sweetest type of coffee?
There is no specific bean, roasting technique, or brewing methods that will achieve the same sweetness of sugar. If you prefer, you can try natural, sugar-free sweeteners such as stevia.
Coffee beans are naturally sweet, but roasters have conflicting opinions on the sweetness of the coffee. But it is safe to say that almost all coffee beans contain high amounts of sucrose, especially while in their green state.
On the other hand, the sweetness that your taste in your mouth is also influenced by the way the beans are roasted. Light and medium roast produce a fruity coffee sweetness. It can be citrusy or berry-like, light, and a bright kind of sweetness.
Darker and fuller roasts cause the simple sugar in the beans to break down and caramelize. Thus, these types of roasts provide a caramelly, chocolatey, and fuller type of sweetness.
Beyond the “second crack” or when the beans are roasted too dark, the sweetness dissipates and produces an ashy taste.
Therefore, the coffee sweetness is dependent on your taste preferences. If you like a chocolatey sweetness, the best option for you is the dark roast coffee. And if you are after some fruity sweetness in your coffee, it is best to go for the lighter roast.
Which Type of Coffee is the Best?
When it comes to choosing the best type of coffee, it is mostly subjective. It depends on the type of coffee drinks that you like and the flavor profiles that you seek. Some people do not mind what their coffee tastes like; the important thing is that it is caffeinated.
On the other hand, more discerning coffee drinkers and coffee enthusiasts, coffee drinking becomes a different kind of experience. Understanding the different types of coffee, where they come from, and their different profiles are the best start for you to start your journey in finding the best coffee in the world.
The most consumed coffee around the world is Arabica coffee, but it does not mean that it is the best coffee for everyone. Arabica has a lot of excellent qualities and flavor profiles, but this is still impacted by the roasting and brewing techniques you will use.
Some people also prefer the higher caffeine content and bolder flavors of Robusta. And if you like to experiment further, you can also try coffee from countries in the coffee belt. These countries include Hawaii, Indonesia, Africa, and the Americas.
Ideally, knowing the various types of coffee, roast levels, and brewing techniques will help you produce the best coffee for your taste.