As a long-time barista and coffee enthusiast, I’m often asked which type of coffee bean is most widely used around the world for drinking coffee. Coffee is grown across multiple continents and comes in many varieties of beans, so which beans end up in your morning cup of joe?
In this comprehensive guide, I’ll break down which main types of coffee bean is most widely used globally and learn about the different types to choose the best one that will create your perfect cup of brewed coffee.
- Arabica coffee beans account for 60-70% of global coffee production and beans are the most popular choice due to their sweeter, more complex flavor.
- Robusta beans make up the remaining 30-40% of production and beans are known for their harsher, earthy taste but higher caffeine content.
- Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia, and Ethiopia are the top five coffee-producing countries, in descending order.
- Varietals like Typica, Bourbon, Caturra, Catuai, and Mundo Novo are the most frequently grown Arabica coffee plants worldwide.
- Consumers gravitate toward specialty Arabica beans from regions like Ethiopia and Colombia for their well-balanced flavor and aroma.
Which type of coffee bean is most widely used? 8 Popular types
As a barista who loves learning about different coffee species, I’m fascinated by the journey beans take from the coffee plant to a great cup of coffee for your morning. There are 4 most popular types of coffee beans – Arabica, Robusta, Excelsa, and Liberica coffee bean.
While Arabica and Robusta beans dominate the world’s coffee production, unique Liberica beans and Excelsa beans add enticing flavors when brewed into lattes, iced coffee, and other coffee drinks. I’ve tried roasted coffee made from each of these 4 types of coffee beans and love experiencing their diversity. Though most beans are grown in tropical regions like Brazil and Vietnam, the terroir imbues each coffee bean type with distinctive notes.
Through my years as a barista, I’ve honed my craft in brewing and preparing the perfect cup to showcase every bean’s nuances. Join me in exploring the tastes of these lesser-known beans and discovering new coffees to make at home from around the world of coffee. Trying new Arabica, Robusta, Liberica, and Excelsa coffee beans is a flavor adventure, especially when you dive into different natural coffee bean oils that enhance the brewing experience!
Arabica Dominates Global Production
Without a doubt, Arabica beans are considered to dominate worldwide consumption. Arabica accounts for 60-70% of global coffee production. Beans are native to Ethiopia and were discovered in the 1700s, Arabica rose to prominence due to its sweet, complex flavor with notes of sugar, fruit, and berries. Arabica legumes are highly prized due to their aromatic qualities.
Arabica has over 60 major varietals that are widely cultivated, the most common being Typica, Bourbon, Caturra, Catuai, and Mundo Novo. These varieties produce beans with distinctive characteristics that convey unique coffee flavors from each coffee-growing region. Arabica’s variety, which spans from floral Kenyan coffees to nutty Ethiopian beans, makes it the coffee connoisseurs’ clear favorite.
Arabica is more susceptible to maladies such as coffee leaf rust, however. But its finely balanced flavor profile means Arabica coffee varieties will continue to lead global coffee consumption.
Robusta: Harsher Taste but Higher Yield
If Arabica rules supreme in flavor, Robusta takes second place in production volume. Approximately 30-40% of coffee beans in the world are Robusta.
Robusta coffee beans come from central and western Africa, it delivers a harsher, earthier taste with woody and rubbery notes. This type of bean contains more caffeine, nearly double that of Arabica, and offers brews that fight drowsiness with robust efficiency but lack the sweet, fruit of the coffee plant.
However, Robusta beans are grown more vigorously in hot climates and have higher resistance to diseases. This kind of coffee bean also blends well with Arabica to add body and a caffeine kick to espresso drinks.
You’ll typically find Robusta used in coffee blends lower-quality and mass-market canned coffee. But for coffee purists, Arabica is still preferred over Robusta’s rough, wild flavor.
Brazil: Largest Global Producer and Consumer
In terms of volume, Brazil dominates the coffee trade, producing over 40% of the world’s beans. The humid, tropical climate allows mass cultivation of lower-quality commodity two beans like Robusta and Arabica beans varietals used in canned coffee blends.
Brazil not only leads production but also consumption, importing far less than it grows domestically. The average Brazilian drinks over 4 cups of coffee daily. This high internal demand shapes Brazil’s focus on quantity over specialty higher-grade beans for export.
However, Brazilian regions like Cerrado also grow exceptional specialty Arabica like Yellow Bourbon, offering an interesting exploration into coffee bean flavor profiles. Overall though, Brazil caters heavily to domestic consumption of cheaper commercial coffee classes.
Vietnam: Rapid Growth in Robusta Exports
While Brazil focuses on internal demand, Vietnam has rapidly expanded coffee exports in the last 20 years, now second behind Brazil in volume. Vietnam overwhelmingly grows lower-grade Robusta beans are used in instant coffee and espresso blends.
Quality has increased through agricultural investments and farming advancements. But Vietnam deals mainly in high-yield, lower-cost Robusta, not specialty Arabica. Their beans end up in packaged coffee products around the world, though are rarely seen in upscale cafes.
Vietnam now rivals Brazil, producing almost 21% of the global supply. Their rapid ascent shows the increasing dominance of commodity Robusta to supply growing coffee demand.
Colombia: High-Quality Arabica Producer
For premium single-origin Arabica, Colombia is a global leader. As the third largest producer, Colombia is place bean are also grows some of the most prized beans worldwide, focused exclusively on artisan Arabica cultivation.
The unique combination of equatorial sunlight, cool mountain air, and nutrient-rich volcanic soil lends Colombian beans a clean, well-balanced flavor with a smooth, syrupy body. Regions like Medellin and Manizales produce exceptional Arabica fetched by high-end coffee houses across the world.
Though Brazil exports more overall, Colombia remains the premier Arabica supplier because of its specialty-grade beans. Their focus on quality over quantity preserves Colombia’s esteemed coffee reputation.
Indonesia: Production Shifting to Robusta
As one of the world’s top five coffee producers, Indonesia has historically produced fine-aged Arabica typifying Indonesian coffee’s smooth, earthy quality. But in recent decades, cultivation has largely transitioned to lower-grade Robusta focused on commoditized exports.
While Indonesian coffee was once prized for aged Sumatran and Java beans, most production is now lower-cost Robusta. This has increased output through higher-yielding plants but lowered prestige among specialty coffee drinkers.
Still, pockets of exceptional Arabica are grown by dedicated farmers on smaller Indonesian islands seeking to preserve exquisite aged beans. This select coffee still commands premium prices for discernible Indonesian coffee aficionados.
Ethiopia: The Birthplace of Arabica
Finally, we would be remiss not to mention Ethiopia, the birthplace of Arabica coffee. Ethiopia is the geographic home of Arabica, with indigenous growing conditions yielding complex beans unlike anywhere else.
As the 5th largest producer, Ethiopia exports distinctive coffees from ancient heirloom Arabica varietals. Hints of exotic spices and fruity notes characterize Ethiopian beans. Major growing regions like Yirgacheffe and Sidamo produce some of the world’s most unique and prized Arabica.
As Arabica’s native land, Ethiopia is blessed with exceptional genetics allowing refined wild-grown beans. Their coffees fetch premium prices, remaining the reference for bean quality among specialty coffee connoisseurs.
While global demand is dominated by lower-cost Robusta and commercial Arabica, discerning consumers gravitate toward premium single-origin Arabica beans from esteemed regions like Ethiopia and Colombia. However, if you’re partial to light-roasted Starbucks coffee, it’s worthwhile noting that they often utilize a blend of these quality beans to achieve their signature flavors.
Their higher quality commands respect from coffee aficionados interested in tasting the nuanced regional and varietal differences. Though commercial blends fill coffee cups worldwide, specialty Arabica satisfies those pursuing a refined coffee-drinking experience.
So in your local cafe, the majority of roasted beans will likely be finer Arabica from Colombia, Kenya, Ethiopia, or other specialty growers – many different types of coffee beans consumers care most about, and that bean of coffee is a great I’m delighted to brew and serve every day.
Is Robusta coffee bad for you?
Robusta isn’t inherently bad but contains more caffeine. It also lacks the refined flavor of Arabica. But Robusta blends can still be enjoyed in moderation.
What variety of coffee is considered the best quality?
Specialty-grade Arabica beans like those from Ethiopia, Kenya, and Colombia are considered the highest quality coffee due to their complex flavor, aromatics, and balance.
What country is the largest coffee producer?
Brazil is the world’s largest coffee producer, accounting for over 40% of global output. But they focus more on commodity coffee than specialty beans.
Why is Kona coffee so expensive?
Grown only in Hawaii’s Kona region, Kona has limited production, allowing premium pricing for its exceptional flavor and name recognition.
Which country drinks the most coffee per capita?
Finland is the top consumer averaging about 4 cups per person daily. Scandinavian countries lead global consumption per capita.
While many coffee seed varieties are cultivated worldwide for mass consumption, discerning coffee lovers seek out premium specialty-grade Arabica beans from esteemed regions. Though commercial Robusta and commodity Arabica dominate global supply, smaller productions of refined Arabica remain the pinnacle of quality and flavor of the coffee.
By understanding coffee’s origins and differences in coffee varietals, especially the four main types of coffee, you can better appreciate each bean’s unique story in every sip. Visit the website lido18.com to learn more about making coffee like a professional barista.