Back To Basics: Types Of Coffee Beans

Coffee is a brewed beverage made from the roasted seeds, or “beans,” of the coffee plant. The coffee plant is a shrub native to subtropical regions of Africa and Asia, although the plant is now cultivated throughout Central and South America as well. Because of these diverse environments, we have several different types of coffee beans.

Once the berries of the coffee plant are harvested, the flesh is removed and discarded, leaving only the seed. Prior to roasting the beans have a grey-green color and are referred to as green coffee.Because the beans are very shelf stable at this point, they are sold and shipped green.

Coffee Bean Varieties and Types

Coffee beans vary in their size, shape, color and flavor depending on the region and conditions in which they were grown. The range of unique flavors and aromas between regional varietals is as expansive as the variety of wine available from different vineyards. It is well worth experimenting with different varietals to discover a bean perfect for your palate.

When you want to make sure that you have the best cup of coffee, you need to understand that it truly depends on the types of coffee beans that you choose. No matter how they are harvested, picked, processed, sorted, roasted, among others, their flavor will be completely different.

Some people sometimes ask us what’s the best coffee. However, there is now right or wrong answer here. It really depends on your personal preference, on your own taste. And the best way to discover what you prefer is to try out the different types of coffee beans that you have available.

Despite there are more than twenty major species, only 3 are cultivated with the purpose of commercial coffee consumption. The 3 most important types of coffee beans are:

arabica bean photo

Photo by Slightly Crewed

Arabica

Also known as Coffee Arabica, this type of coffee bean is usually associated with the best coffee and it can be even referred to as gourmet coffee. Featuring plenty of aromatic properties and pleasing flavors, Arabica has almost half of the amount of caffeine from the second most important type of coffee – Robusta.

Arabica represents about 70% of the world market for coffee beans. One of the main characteristics of this type of coffee bean is that it usually grows on steep terrains. So, it’s virtually impossible to have any mechanical harvesting. However, this presents a golden opportunity for you. When the coffee beans are hand-picked, this usually makes sure that you have a better selection with fewer over or under-ripe beans being chosen.

Arabica type of coffee usually features a soft and sweet tastes, with lots of fruits, berries, and sugar, when compared with Robusta that has a higher acidity.

Arabica is dominantly grown in Latin America.

Robusta bean photo

Photo by Slightly Crewed

Robusta

Also known as Coffea Canephora, Robusta coffee beans usually have an inferior quality when compared with the Arabica coffee beans. Robusta has around 23% of the market for coffee beans.Robusta coffee beans are usually grown at lower elevations which make it a lot easier to grow and maintain. One of the things that characterize the Robusta coffee beans is the fact that they are more resistant to diseases, less vulnerable to weather conditions, and they tend to produce more quantity.

Robusta coffee tends to be more acid (or bitter, as most people say) and has a larger amount of caffeine when compared to the Arabica coffee.Since the Robusta coffee is cheaper to produce, it tends to be mostly sold as an instant coffee. The main regions that predominantly have this type of coffee include West Africa, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Brazil.

kona bean photo

Photo by Tatiana12

Kona coffee beans

The last and most generally produced coffee bean is the Kona coffee beans. The production of these beans is quite modest when compared with Robust and Arabica. They are usually grown in Hawaii and are probably the most costly coffee sorts inside the whole world. The Kona coffee beans are most widely favorite for its smooth taste and powerful aroma. However, Kona is rarely blended with other coffee beans.

However, via a process of grafting, many cultivars have been developed from these species in an effort to either boost production volumes, increase disease resistance or improve cup quality.

The two most prominent cultivars of Coffea Arabica are Typica and Bourbon with Typica being the oldest. Historically, Typica is cultivated in Latin America and Asia, whereas bourbon arrived in South America and, later, East Africa via the French colony of Bourbon (Island of Reunion).

Different cultivars that have been created from the three major species (generally Robusta and Arabica) include:

  • Wild Coffee: This is the regular name of “Coffearacemosa Lour” which is a species of coffee local to Ethiopia.
  • Baron Goto Red: This is a coffee bean cultivar that is exceptionally similar to ‘Catuai Red’. It is grown at various locales in Hawaii.
  • Blue Mountain: Coffeaarabica L. ‘Blue Mountain’. Likewise known generally as Kenyan coffea or Jamaican coffea. It is a well-known Arabica cultivar that originated in Jamaica but is now grown in Kenya, PNG, Hawaii. It is a wonderful coffee with a top-quality cup flavor. It has characteristics of bright acidity, nutty aroma, and an exceptional flavor similar to beef-bullion.
  • Bourbon:. Coffeaarabica L. ‘Whiskey’. A natural assortment or cultivar of Coffee Arabica which was first grown on the French controlled island of Bourbon, now referred to as Réunion, situated east of Madagascar in the Indian sea.
  • Brazilian Coffea: Coffea arabica L. ‘Mundo Novo’. The common name used to classify the coffea plant cross-created from the ”Bourbon” and “Typica” varieties.
  • Caracol/Caracoli:Coined from Caracolillo, a Spanish word that means ‘seashell’ and defines the peaberry coffee bean.
  • Catimor: This is a coffea bean cultivar cross-created in 1959, between the strains of Hibrido de Timor and Caturra in Portugal. It is impervious to espresso leaf rust (Hemileiavastatrix).
  • Catuai: This is a cross between the Caturra Arabica and Mundo Novo cultivars. Well-known for its high return and is described by either red cherries (Coffeaarabica L. ‘CatuaiVermelho’) or yellow (Coffeaarabica L. ‘CatuaiAmarelo’).

Now that you know more about the coffee bean, it’s time to start to learn about Roasting Coffee Beans To Perfection.