The Different Types of Coffee Beans
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Coffee comes in different types, roasts, flavors, and blends. It might come from different parts of the world, be dried in another part of the world, and might go through a completely different process to make it ready for brewing. But it all starts with the coffee beans.
If you take a quick look at your can of coffee, you might see the specifications of each kind. A single product might be a blend of several different types of coffee. In this article, we talk about the different type of coffee beans available and which one of them would be the right fit for your taste.
Types of Coffee Beans
While coffee beans come in many varieties depending on the plants they’re harvested from and their location, coffee is primarily divided into four different categories. These are Arabica, Robusta, Liberica, and Excelsa. You might be wondering, though,what are the differences and which is best?
Arabica and Robusta are the most common coffee beans prevalent in the world today. The popularity of these coffee beans comes from their flavor profile, caffeine content, full bodiedness, and acidity. If you’re a regular coffee drinker, there is a good chance that the coffee beans in your cabinet are either Arabica or Robusta.
The main reason why people drink coffee is for the surge of energy that the caffeine in it provides. So, which coffee bean has the most caffeine?
Coffea Arabica, more commonly known as just Arabica, is believed to be the origin of coffee in the world. It is the first coffee that was cultivated and still holds that crown, accounting for almost 60% of the world’s total coffee production. Arabica originated in Ethiopia and is believed to be first cultivated in Yemen.
Arabica coffee is grown mostly in humid climates without too much sunlight. For this reason, it thrives in subtropical regions of the world. Brazil, Ethiopia, and India are some of the major Arabica coffee producing nations in the world.
Arabica coffee beans result in a smooth tasting coffee that also has a certain sweetness to it. The natural sweetness offers hints of sugar, nuts, caramel, and chocolate as well, making it a good choice for people who enjoy flavored coffees with cream. Within Arabica beans, you also get varieties like Typica and Bourbon.
Arabica coffee also comes with a balanced level of acidity and some level of bitterness. The bitterness and flavor profile of the coffee depends on the degree of roasting of the beans.
When it comes to caffeine content, Arabica beans are milder than their Robusta counterparts. One Arabica bean contains around 1.9 milligrams of caffeine. You can expect about 1.2 to 1.5 grams of caffeine per 100 grams of this type of coffee.
Coffea canephora, also known as Robusta coffee, is the second most popular coffee type in the world. It makes up 43% of the global production of coffee. Robusta originated in central and sub-Saharan Africa.
Similar to Arabica coffee, Robusta needs a tropical climate to grow with enough sunshine and moisture. Vietnam is one of the leading producers of Robusta coffee in the world.
The taste of Robusta coffee is quite different from Arabica coffee, as it is much more bitter and has earthy tones in it. You can also expect a rubbery flavor, unlike the smoothness of Arabica.
The caffeine content in Robusta coffee is higher than Arabica coffee by as much as 50%. You can expect a single Robusta coffee bean to have 2.9 milligrams of caffeine, and 100 grams will contain anywhere between 2.2 to 2.7 grams of caffeine.
Robusta coffee is considered to be less pure in terms of taste as compared to Arabica coffee. For this reason, you will always find Arabica coffee to be priced higher than Robusta.
Do You Know?
What country is the #1 producer of Coffee Beans? Click to flip to see how smart you are.
In 2019 Brazil produced 5.7 billion pounds of coffee.
Coffea Liberica is also known as Liberica coffee. Native to western and central Africa, Liberica is a rare type of coffee that makes up less than 1.5% of the total production of coffee worldwide. While the coffee is not widely available throughout the world, it is grown in the Philippines and is widely consumed by the locals.
The caffeine content of Liberica coffee is lower than both Arabica and Robusta coffee beans, making up only 1.23%. This means that you will only get about 1.2 grams of caffeine from 100 grams of Liberica coffee.
The reason why Liberica coffee is not more popular is that it has a metallic undertone to it. The coffee also has hints of natural wood and bitterness. You can also note a slight dark chocolate aftertaste to it. The bean size of Liberica is much larger than Arabica and Robusta beans.
Excelsa coffee is another rare coffee bean variety, making it pretty expensive. Making up 7% of the world’s total coffee production, it is sometimes classified as a part of the Liberica family. It is most commonly found in southeast Asian countries. Due to the rarity of this coffee, you will not find it in your supermarket aisles.
Excelsa coffee is mostly used with other beans to add depth to the taste, owing to its tart and dark taste. The large price tag of the coffee is because of its scarcity and not quality, as Excelsa is considered a poor quality coffee as compared to Arabica or Robusta.
The tart undertones of the coffee make it a particularly good fit for people who enjoy a rich, dark aftertaste. However, coffee enthusiasts only find this experience enjoyable when it is blended with other coffees, as Excelsa by itself can give a highly bitter, strong flavor profile that not everyone will enjoy.
Despite the strong taste, Excelsa coffee has a much lower caffeine content than the other types of beans mentioned on this list. You will get only about 0.86 to 1.13 grams of caffeine per 100 grams from these coffee beans.
Do You Know?
Bet you can’t guess the 2nd largest producer of coffee beans (unless you already clicked the Wiki link previously!)
In 2019 Vietnam produced 3.6 billion pounds of coffee, ahead of Colombia by nearly 2 billion pounds!
How to Pick the Right Coffee Beans
If you’re new to the world of coffee and want to experiment with new beans, you might be wondering: what is the best type of coffee bean? The best way to find your taste is to experiment with all available options. Arabica and Robusta are readily available in all parts of the world.
However, if you’ve been drinking coffee for a while and want to pick one that works for you, a coffee bean types chart will help you figure out which of the two options will be more suited to your tastes. For the sake of this discussion, we are leaving out Liberica and Excelsa as they are not widely available.
Comparison between Arabica and Robusta
|Caffeine Content||1.2% – 1.5%||2.2% – 2.7%|
As you can see from this coffee bean types chart, Arabica has higher acidity and lower caffeine content than Robusta coffee, which makes it a good fit for people who prefer a smoother, full-bodied experience.
Read more about the best beans for cold brew
However, Robusta comes with a much higher caffeine content and is cheaper than Arabica, making it a better fit for people who want the kick of caffeine while also choosing the more affordable choice.
Another advantage of Robusta coffee is that it might be more easily available in your region. While Arabica is more widely grown throughout the world, Robusta takes less water to grow and is not as sensitive to harsh climates as Arabica. This makes it more economical to grow, which reflects in the final price of the beans as well.
Besides the type of coffee bean, the degree of roast also defines the flavor of your coffee beans. Depending on how long coffee beans are in the roasting process, they are classified as light, medium, and dark roasts.
Light roasts are the strongest degrees of roast because they spend the least time in the development process, making them retain the highest amount of flavor and bitterness. Medium roasts are slightly smoother, making them a good fit for lattes and mixed coffees.
If you enjoy a strong, burnt taste to your coffee, you can pick a dark roast. Dark roasts spend the longest time in the roasting step, reducing the amount of caffeine in them and making them a good pairing for dark chocolate and similar flavors.
The Bottom Line
You should now have a good understanding of the various types of coffee beans out there.
Coffee has been around for hundreds of years, with the earliest mentions of the beverage appearing in the 15th century. One of the most popular beverages in the world, coffee is grown in multiple countries, leading to a large variety in the options available.
While Arabica and Robusta account for more than 90% of the world’s coffee production, you also get rare, localized options like Liberica and Excelsa with much lower caffeine contents.