In the world of coffee, many folks may be wondering in what ways the myriad different coffee beans they may encounter differ. Well, one way, in particular, is by bean type.
You don’t have to be a botanist to get a little more info about the world of coffee beans! Let’s find out a bit more about each coffee bean type and if you are interested in grabbing some beans of your own explore our shop where you will find excellent beans like our Cozy Dark dark roast and Cozy Commitment medium-dark roast! These two bean varieties are truly spectacular and will brighten even your dimmest of mornings and lift even your most fatigued of moods. But for now, let’s find out more about coffee beans.
What are the different types?
The coffee plant has four different types: Arabica, Robusta, Excelsa, and Liberica. These four bean types vary in size, general flavour and aroma palette, caffeine content, and sometimes by region, though some regions will produce 2 or more of these beans.
The origins of all coffee beans are plants go back to the wild coffee plant forests of the Ethiopian Highlands. The very first beans are believed to have been arabica beans or a very close ancestor of the arabica bean we know and love today.
But over time as coffee was spread around the globe, some of these different varieties of coffee beans were bred or naturally adapted to different areas and climates, or even began as genetic offshoots from the original coffee beans from Ethiopia.
Coffee beans are in fact the seeds of the coffee plant. We get coffee seeds, or rather, beans, by harvesting them from the red cherries found on coffee plants. Today, Arabica and Robusta are the two main types of beans one might encounter. Most coffee in the western market comes from these two beans, and while it may be a challenge to get your hands on the other two bean varieties, it is not impossible. Though, you may need to plan a trip to Malaysia or the Philippines to get them. But, to begin to truly get a good grasp on these four bean types, let us examine each one more thoroughly!
1. Arabica beans
One of the most common and most popular types of bean, Arabica can be found all over the world. About 60% of the coffee beans produced in the world are Arabica. These beans are sensitive and really only thrive in areas that have high altitudes, tropical climates, steady and regular rainfall, and porous soil, preferably volcanic soil.
Arabica plants are very delicate and if one plant in a crop gets sick, the entire farm may potentially all get sick and die too! But the challenges to produce arabica usually result in a big payoff because Arabica beans are considered to be of the highest quality compared to the other three-bean types. Beans like Kona, Geisha, and Jamaican Blue Mountain are all some of the finest beans around and are all arabica!
The flavour and aroma palette of arabica beans can be wide and diverse but usually, a bright acidity, a good body, floral, fruity, and citrusy notes are often attached to arabica beans. Arabica is also the second most caffeinated of the four bean types.
The second most popular bean type, the robusta plant is named because it is more robust than the arabica for sure. Robusta can grow almost anywhere, including flat, dry, hot, arid, and rugged regions. Robusta plants are also more resistant to extreme weather unlike arabica and are more resistant to various diseases, pests, and blights that can spell the end for a crop of arabica plants.
Robusta is robust in its flavour hints, notes, and palettes, too. Robusta tends to taste bitter and strong. This is also due in part to robusta’s caffeine content. The average robusta bean has almost double the caffeine content of the average arabica bean. Like arabica, robusta can be found in many different coffee-producing regions, but certainly, places that tend to be hot, dry, and without excessive rainfall.
The story of Liberica is a fascinating one. In 1890 a coffee rust outbreak wiped out about 90% of the arabica plants in the world. Luckily, the Liberica plant, which is native to west and central Africa, was immune to such rust. The Philippines was the first country to try producing this coffee plant and did so swimmingly for some time.
However, the Liberica plants would suffer in the wake of the Philippines declaring independence from the United States. This came as a result of the United States pulling economic support and coffee supplies from the Philippines. This didn't wipe out the Liberica, though. Some plants survived up until today where liberica are cultivated, mainly only in the Philippines, but it is also produced in Malaysia, other parts of Southeast Asia and even regions in west Africa.
The liberica enjoys hot, humid regions, is immune to many coffee plant diseases and has a peculiar appearance. Liberica beans are not only asymmetrical but are also slightly larger than other coffee beans. The aroma palette is said to be fruity, juicy, and sweet while the flavour palette has some smoky hints and notes that is often remarked to be akin to wood! As for caffeine, this bean packs the third most and amounts to about 1% of all coffee produced globally.
More recent research has discovered that the excelsa is actually just a member of the Liberica family of west African coffee beans. However, excelsa still has a distinct enough persona to be classified as a different bean category. The excelsa bean grows on massive coffee trees as the Liberica beans do. Both beans also grow at around medium altitudes.
Excelsa beans are also mainly produced in Southeast Asia and come in third as the most popular coffee beans. The flavour and aroma palette of excelsa is very exciting, with fruity and almost tart scents and more roasty flavours underneath. The combination of flavours akin to both light and dark roasted beans make for a real enigma, one that is fun to experience on one’s own firsthand.
As for caffeine content, the Excelsa bean comes in fourth with the least caffeine per bean but makes up about 7% of the coffee bean production on earth.
Coffee bean types explained
Hopefully, this has served to shed a little light on the world of coffee beans. Perhaps you will be lucky enough to try one of the two rarer beans, or you will appreciate your arabica or robusta beans a bit more than before? If you are looking to sample some superb coffee beans, try our Cozy Dark dark roasted beans. Dark chocolate and pleasingly roasty flavours await! Or, try our medium-dark roast, Cozy Commitment. These beans will treat you to some delightful brown sugar, cocoa, and dried fruit flavours, hints, and notes. Give them a brew today!
- “Coffee Bean Types and Their Characteristics.” Cafedirect Shop, 16 Mar. 2021, www.cafedirect.co.uk/shop/coffee-bean-types-and-their-characteristics/.
- HeyCozyffee Coffee Company, www.heycozyffee.com/.
- Hutson, Caitlyn. “A Definitive Guide to the 4 Main Types of Coffee Beans: Atlas Coffee Club.” Atlas Coffee Club Blog | Club Culture, 21 Nov. 2019, club.atlascoffeeclub.com/4-main-types-of-coffee-beans/.
- MacDonnell, Kate. “The 4 Different Types of Coffee Beans (with Pictures).” Coffee Affection, 23 Apr. 2021, coffeeaffection.com/different-types-coffee-beans/.