I’m often asked – What type of coffee beans are there? Because coffee is beloved by people across the globe and coffee produced globally.
As a coffee enthusiast with over 10 years of experience in the industry, From dark roasts to light roasts, Arabica to Robusta, there is a vast world of coffee bean varieties to discover.
Come along with me as I explore the origins, flavors, and applications of the main subcategories of coffee beans, and let’s also delve into which is the best type of coffee for moka pot.
Overview Coffee Beans
Let’s review some coffee history before we go into the many types. Coffee beans originate from the seeds of berries grown on Coffee plants, which are cultivated in over 70 countries. The two most economically important species are Coffea arabica (Arabica beans) and Coffea canephora (Robusta beans).
Coffee plants first grew wild in Ethiopia and were used by indigenous people before the 15th century. According to legend, a goatherd named Kaldi discovered the energizing effects of coffee beans after his goats ate some red berries and became very energetic.
The uses of coffee then spread through the Middle East and Europe. Colonialism and imperialism eventually transferred coffee plants across numerous regions like Indonesia, the Americas, and more.
Now, coffee is the world’s second most traded commodity behind oil. Most importing countries process the beans to make hot coffee or espresso drinks. But what’s the type of fiber in coffee beans that drives this huge global market?
What type of coffee beans are there? 3 types of coffee beans
With so many coffee bean varieties to choose from, it can be difficult to learn about the different coffee types and choose the best coffee beans for brewing a perfect cup of coffee: hot or iced coffee, or rusty coffee example. How many types of beans do you think there are? 3 or 4 types of coffee?
To learn about the different types of beans and know which world’s most popular coffee, whether bold and intense or mild and sweet, read on.
We’ll cover the basics of the three main types of beans, including which one might be the best type of milk to taste in coffee.
There are two major species of coffee plants that produce the coffee beans we know and love – Coffee arabica (bean of arabica) and Coffee canephora (bean of robusta). Within these two species, there are many varieties that each have their own unique coffee flavors and aromas. But broadly speaking, the three main types of coffee beans are:
Arabica Coffee Beans
Arabica coffee beans make up around 60% of global coffee production. They come from the Coffea arabica plant, which does well in rich soil and high altitudes. Arabica beans are grown in Brazil and Colombia.
Flavor Profile: It brews into a coffee with a delicate flavor that is aromatic, acidic, and complex. Notes can range from fruity, nutty, chocolaty to citrusy.
Best Uses: Arabica is ideal for specialty coffee drinks like espressos and pour-overs which highlight the nuanced flavor. The beans are also used in high-quality instant coffee.
Popular Varietals: There are many varieties of Arabica coffee beans, each with unique characteristics. Some popular ones include:
- Typica: Well-balanced and sweet. Originated in Ethiopia.
- Bourbon: Smooth, creamy, and chocolate notes. Grown in East Africa and Latin America.
- Caturra: Fruity, bright, and acidic. Mainly grown in Brazil.
- Geisha: Floral, delicate, and tea-like. Originated in Ethiopia and grown in Panama and Costa Rica. Can sell for up to $803 per pound!
Robusta Coffee Beans
Robusta beans consist of the remaining 40% of world coffee production. They come from the Coffea canephora plant and grow at lower altitudes with higher humidity. The top producers are Vietnam, Brazil, and Indonesia.
Flavor Profile: Robusta brews into a coffee that is strong in flavor and higher in bitterness. It has earthy woodsy notes and a grain-like overtone. Less acidity than Arabica.
Best Uses: Robusta is used as an economical base for instant coffees and espresso blends. It also balances out the sweetness of Arabica in Italian-style espresso.
Common Varietals: There are only a few main Robusta varietals:
- Robusta: Strongest and most widely available varietal. Used in an instant and espresso coffee blends.
- Nganda: Less bitter, mildly floral. Used in a coffee instant.
- Kouillou: Higher growing, sweeter flavor. Also used in a coffee instant.
Excelsa coffee beans
Excelsa makes up only about 7% of the production of coffee worldwide and Excelsa beans are grown mostly in Southeast Asia. It is similar to Liberica in size and shape but has a distinctive tart, fruity flavor profile.
The caffeine content of Excelsa is moderate, lower than Robusta but higher than Arabica. Some key countries that produce Excelsa beans are Indonesia, Vietnam, and parts of Southern India.
Popular types of Excelsa include:
- Kopi Luwak from Indonesia
- Kapeng Barako from the Philippines.
This bean is sometimes mistakenly categorized as a type of Liberica coffee bean, but it is a distinct species known scientifically as Coffea Excelsa. It can be challenging to find 100% Excelsa coffee, as the beans are often used in blends to add a tart, wild flavor.
In addition, there is also Liberica is the rarest, representing less than 2% of global production. Liberica and Excelsa are two rare and nearly identical types of coffee. Liberica beans are native to Liberia and parts of central Africa, liberica beans contain a woody, smoky flavor that is not to everyone’s taste.
They contain more caffeine than Arabica but less than Robusta. While not widely exported, Liberia is occasionally used as a specialty bean for unique flavored coffees.
The bean variety affects the flavor, caffeine content, price, and availability of coffee types around the world. So whether you prefer a complex aromatic arabica, a bold high-caffeine robusta, or an exotic Liberia, knowing the major bean categories helps highlight what makes each coffee unique.
The next time you sip a cup of brew coffee, consider where its distinctive flavor profile comes from.
Other Less Common Bean Types
While Arabica and Robusta coffee beans dominate commercial coffee production, there are many other bean types grown on a smaller scale:
- Liberica: Woody, nutty flavor. Grown in Malaysia and the Philippines.
- Excelsa: Tart, fruity profile. Originated in Southeast Asia.
- Benguet: Mellower berry-like taste. Exclusively grown in the Philippines.
As you can see, there is tremendous diversity when we dig into coffee bean types. Now let’s explore how these beans are processed and roasted.
How Coffee Beans Are Processed?
After coffee cherries (the berries) are harvested, they undergo processing to extract the seeds, dry them, and ready them for roasting. There are two main processing methods:
- Wet/Washed Processing: Common for beans of Arabica. The cherries are deseeded to remove the outer flesh. The beans are then fermented for 1-3 days to develop flavor before being washed and dried on large patios for 8-20 days. Produces a “cleaner” tasting coffee.
- Dry Processing: Often used for Robusta beans. The cherries are dried immediately after harvest with the flesh still attached to the beans. This takes 15-20 days and results in a fruitier, heavier coffee.
The processing method greatly impacts the end flavor, since it affects chemical changes in the beans. Now let’s see how roasting further transforms things.
Roasting Coffee Beans
Roasting is the final step that takes green coffee beans to the brown beans we all know. By heating the beans to temperatures between 370-450°F, chemical changes occur that bring out the distinct aromas, flavors, and colors of coffee.
There are three main categories of roast level:
- Light Roast: Roasted briefly up to 400°F. Retains bright, acidic notes.
- Medium Roast: Roasted medium-high around 405-425°F. Balanced and sweeter flavor.
- Dark Roast: Roasted to just before the second crack around 437-450°F. Smoother, bolder taste. Oils emerge on the bean surface.
The duration of roasting affects the flavors too. Faster roasting accentuates acidity and fruitiness, while slower roasting brings out the sweetness. Whole beans should then be rested for 1-3 days to fully stabilize the flavors before brewing.
That covers the many types of coffee beans and how they are processed! To recap:
- Coffee beans come primarily from Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora plants. Arabica is known for floral, fruitier flavors while Robusta has earthy, grain-like tastes.
- There are numerous varietals of Arabica like Typica, Bourbon, and Geisha. Robusta varietals include Robusta itself, Nganda, and Kouillou.
- Processing methods like wet/washed and dry processing affect the bean flavors. Roasting brings about additional chemical changes that create deeper, richer notes.
- Light, medium, and dark roasts have different flavor profiles based on their roast temperatures. Faster vs. slower roasting also imparts unique characteristics.
Understanding the nuances between bean types, processing, and roasting is key for every coffee lover. You can now geek out on the science behind that perfect cup of joe!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the healthiest type of coffee bean?
Arabica beans tend to have higher antioxidant levels and less caffeine than Robusta. Light to medium roasts retain more beneficial compounds too. Overall, the highest quality coffee beans of Arabica roasted lightly are considered the healthiest option.
Are certain coffee beans better for espresso?
Espresso blends often contain mostly Arabica beans for their complexity and around 30% Robusta beans. The Robusta adds crema and a bold, thick mouthfeel that complements the Arabica flavors.
Why are Kona coffee beans so expensive?
Kona beans refer to exclusive Arabica beans grown on the slopes of the Hualalai and Mauna Loa volcanoes in Hawaii. The combination of ideal climate, rich volcanic soil, and limited production creates a smooth, delicate coffee that commands very high prices.
Do darker roasted beans have more caffeine?
No, the roast level does not affect caffeine content. Rather, Arabica beans naturally contain less caffeine than Robusta. Since dark roasts are often used for Robusta bean coffee, this creates the misconception that they have more caffeine.
However, there’s always more to learn. For those eager to dive deeper into the world of coffee, I invite you to visit lido18.com. With my extensive coffee knowledge and years of experience in the field, I’ve explored and conquered the many facets of this beloved beverage.