When you buy a cup of coffee from your favourite coffee shop, do you know what types of coffee beans you’re getting? Once you start experiencing with different types of coffee it will become easier to distinguish taste and you’ll have an idea what’s in your cup of brew without having to ask.
There are a few ways you can determine what coffee beans were used to make your cup of brew.
An easier way to find out is to ask your Barista but some coffee shops don’t outrightly disclose the type of coffee beans they use for their different coffee drinks.
Or if you bought a pack of coffee you can check the packaging contents but often that’s not enough information to give you an answer.
The best and most fun way of knowing what your espresso is made of is learning about the different types of coffee beans that exist, the most common species produced and how to distinguish between the tastes.
Whenever you buy a coffee drink at a coffee shop or purchase from the grocery store, chances are you’re getting one of the two main types of coffee beans species. Arabica coffee or Robusta coffee.
But it’s highly likely, Arabica coffee since it’s responsible for 60% production worldwide unlike the Robusta which makes up the other 40%.
Brazil is the biggest coffee producer in the world, producing one-third of the world’s coffee, though 69% of that is arabica.
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There are over 120 species of Coffea, which is grown from seed but the two most popular types of coffee beans are the Coffea arabica or “Arabica”, which accounts for 60–80% of the world’s coffee production and Coffea canephora or “Robusta”, which accounts for the other 20–40%.
Arabica Coffee (Coffea Arabica)
Arabica coffee (Coffea Arabica) also known as the Arabian coffee or mountain coffee, is a type of coffee made from the beans of the Coffea arabica plant.
It is a species of Coffea and believed to be the first species of coffee to be cultivated. Arabica coffee contains between 0.8–1.4% caffeine, twice the amount of sugar than Robusta beans and more lipids.
The Arabica coffee beans are usually much lighter and fruitier than the Robusta coffee in taste but its more acidic and floral.
These factors play an important part in not only the flavour, but the aroma and body of the coffee.
Robusta Coffee (Coffea Robusta)
Robusta coffee (Coffea Robusta) is made from the beans of the Coffea canephora plant (canephora beans) and are mainly used in instant coffee, espresso, and as a filler in ground coffee blends.
In fact, 10-15% of the good quality robusta beans are used in traditional Italian espresso blends, to provide a full-bodied taste and a better foam head or crema.
Robusta coffee was originated in central and western sub-Saharan Africa. Has almost double the amount of caffeine and more antioxidants than the Arabica coffee beans.
It contains between 1.7–4% caffeine, it is also more bitter but less acidic than Arabica beans.
It is mostly grown in Vietnam, where French colonists introduced it in the late 19th century, but it is also grown in India, Africa and Brazil.
Vietnam, which produces mostly robusta, has become the world’s largest exporter of robusta coffee, accounting for over 40% of the total production.
The differences between the 2 types of coffee beans
Robusta is easier to care for and has a greater crop yield than arabica, so is cheaper to produce.
Roasted robusta beans produce a strong, full-bodied coffee with a distinctive earthy flavour, but usually with more bitterness than arabica due to its pyrazine content.
Arabica beans are believed to have a smoother taste with more acidity and a richer flavour, so they are often considered superior, while the harsher robusta beans are mostly used as a filler in lower-grade coffee blends.
As the robusta beans are more powerful in flavour, some people may wish to add it to other blends to create a perceived “strength” and “finish”, which is common in Italian coffee culture.
Which Types Of Coffee Beans Are The Best?
Arabica beans are perceived to be the best types of coffee beans because they have a smoother taste with more acidity, less bitterness and a richer flavour. It is preferred for its sweeter taste.
What are the other types of coffee beans?
In addition to the Arabica coffee and Robusta coffee, the other 2 main types of coffee beans are:
• Coffea charrieriana (or Charrier coffee) &
• Coffea liberica (or Liberian coffee)
Charrier Coffee (Coffea Charrieriana)
Charrier Coffee is a species of coffee plant in the family Rubiaceae.
It is a caffeine-free coffee found in Cameroon and the only caffeine-free coffee plant from Central Africa.
Charrier coffee could serve as a source of natural caffeine-free coffee beans, which reduces the need for chemical decaffeination processes. A process that decreases a coffee’s flavour.
Coffea Liberica (Liberian Coffee)
Coffea liberica (Liberian coffee) is a species of coffee plant in the family Rubiaceae from which coffee is produced and are much larger than the Arabica and Robusta beans.
The Liberica beans have more caffeine than Arabica but less than Robusta.
It is homegrown in western and Central African countries and has become naturalized in the Philippines, Indonesia, Seychelles, the Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Malaysia.
Due to its rareness and limited supply on a global level, the cost of regular Liberica beans are much more expensive, and an even heavier price tag for premium Liberica beans.
Liberica coffee can be considered good coffee or even great coffee.
Types of Coffee Roasts
- Light Roast
- Medium Roast
- Dark Roast
- Extra Dark Roast
The flavour and taste of green coffee beans are developed during the roasting process. Unroasted beans tend to contain higher levels of acids, protein, sugars, and caffeine in comparison to those that have been roasted. Mainly because they lack the chemical reactions that occur during roasting.
Lightly roasted coffee beans contains higher acidity and lacks the roast flavour. This level of roast is ideal for tasting the full origin character of the coffee.
Medium roast has less acidity with added taste of sugars. This results in coffee with higher body, but with a roasty flavour.
Dark roasts have lots of aromas with bittersweet flavours. At this stage of roasting there is little character remaining from the coffee origin.
Extra Dark Roast
Dark brown, shiny with oil, deep caramel undertones with no acidity. At this stage the beans are well roasted with little existence of aroma or flavours of the coffee.
Coffee Grind Size
- Extra fine coffee – great for espressos
- Fine coffee – great for Aeropress
- Medium grind coffee – best for drip / pour over coffee makers
- Coarse grind coffee – great for French press and Chemex
- Extra coarse coffee – ideal for cold brew
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes how many coffee grind size that exists. It is a mixture of choices depending on the type of coffee drinks to be made, the type of coffee maker or espresso machine to be used and personal preference.
A recent change to the coffee market are lattes, Frappuccinos and other sugary coffee drinks.
With the recent changes in the coffee market and the rise in popularity of Lattes, Frappuccinos and other sugary coffee drinks, coffee houses have resorted to using cheaper coffee beans in their coffee, which has hurt the Latin American countries’ economy.
The cheaper coffee beans are called Robusta and have higher caffeine content which contributes to their popularity.
These cheaper beans continue to hurt the Latin American economy because the coffee producers receive less money for the production of the cheaper beans than they do for the production of the higher quality beans.
Coffee producers in turn receive a smaller income, which negatively impacts the economy of Latin America.
I’m sure it gives you great pleasure knowing exactly where your coffee beans originated from and which species it belongs to.
On a regular basis you’re most likely to be having Arabica coffee which is responsible for 60% production while Robusta coffee makes up the other 40%.
Robusta and Arabica coffee both have different amounts of caffeine, sugar, lipids, and antioxidants in them. With each having its own advantages and disadvantages.