Types Of Coffee Beans

There are hundreds of different types of coffee beans around the world. Discover the most popular types of coffee in all their variety and learn interesting facts about the cultivation, appearance, and taste of the most popular types of coffee!

The Structure Of The Coffee Bean

Before we tell you more about this topic, here are a few “basics”: From a botanical point of view, the coffee bean is actually not a bean at all, but the seed of the coffee plant.

The fruits are red stone fruits that look like cherries, also known as “coffee cherries”, often with two “stone pits” that are the actual “coffee beans”.

These stone kernels contain about 0.8 to 2.5 percent caffeine. They consist mainly of so-called “nutritional tissue”. Coming from the Rubiaceae family, coffee varieties belong to the Coffea genus.

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The Difference Between Types Of Coffee Beans

If you ask different people about their favorite type of coffee, you will get a wide variety of answers. These range from “Arabica”, “Coffee from Guatemala” or “Blue Mountain” to “Mocha”, “Cappuccino” and “Espresso”.

This is because the term “coffee type” is interpreted in many different ways. Here we explain what is actually behind this term and delimit it from similar terms.

Types of Coffee Beans Types Of Coffee Varieties Coffee Specialties

 

 

Arabica
Robusta
Liberia
Excelsa

Bourbon
Catimor
Catuai
Caturra
Ethiopia
Java
Kona
Maragogipe
Pacamara
Sidamo
Typica

Americano
Cappuccino
Diplomatic Coffee
Iced Coffee
Espresso
Irish Coffee
Coffee Consul
Latte Macchiato
Mocha
Pharisee

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Types Of Coffee Beans

There are more than 120 species in the genus Coffee (Coffea). Coffee species is the botanical species that describes specific types of coffee beans that can be grown.

The type of coffee thus forms the basis of the type of coffee.

Examples of coffee types are Coffea Arabica (Arabica coffee) or Coffea Robusta (Robusta coffee).

Types Of Coffee Varieties

The types of coffee varieties are influenced by where the cultivation area is located, the prevailing climatic conditions, and the nature of the soil in terms of its nutrient content.

In addition, the harvest, preparation, and roasting are decisive for the taste of the coffee varieties. That is why coffee types have many more fine, taste nuances than coffee types.

Examples of coffee types are Typica, Geish, Bourbon, Kona, or Java (based on the Arabica type of coffee).

Types Of Coffee Specialities

The coffee specialty is the final hot drink which was prepared from the ground beans of one type of coffee. Some types of coffee are better than others for certain specialty coffees. For example, Robusta varieties are primarily used for instant coffee or espresso.

Examples of coffee specialties are espresso, cappuccino, iced coffee, latte macchiato, lattes, or a coffee consul.

In our article, we focus on the most popular types of coffee.

The Main Types Of Coffee Beans

The Main Types Of Coffee Beans

The most widespread and globally grown coffee species and types of coffee are:

  • Arabica
  • Robusta
  • Excelsa
  • Liberica
  • Maragogipe
  • Stenophylla

Interesting Information About Each Type Of Coffee

Arabica

Arabica coffee has by far the largest market share. Around 70% of the coffee sold worldwide comes from Arabica beans. This is not surprising, since it is the most original of all varieties. The plants of this variety are quite vulnerable and need a stable and cool climate with temperatures between 64 and 72 degrees. They prefer to thrive in regions above an altitude of 3280 feet.. Since the coffee cherry only grows slowly in height, it can develop its typical aromas over a long period of time. Arabica beans have a low acid content, which makes them an attractive basis for coffees that are gentle on the stomach. The mild taste also allows the often sweet and fruity nuances to come to the fore perfectly. Due to the low temperatures, the cherry takes a lot of time to ripen, so that it can develop a varied aroma that you can taste when you enjoy your coffee! Visually, the beans are characterized by a curved S-line. Arabica plants grow almost everywhere: in Central and South America as well as in Ethiopia, Kenya, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

Robusta

In contrast to Arabica, Robusta can also be found in lower regions, as it has a higher heat resistance and can withstand temperatures of up to 79 degrees Fahrenheit much better. It also lives up to its name in terms of resistance to pests. Almost 30 percent of the world's coffee comes from Robusta plants. Arabica and Robusta together make up the majority of coffee sold internationally. Robusta coffee is characterized by a higher acid content but less oil. The more intense taste is mainly due to the twice as high caffeine content. You will experience Robusta as stronger overall, but less multifaceted. Therefore, and thanks to the good properties for a crema, Robusta beans are often used for espresso. It has a straight grain and is smaller than the Arabica. Visually, there are also differences between Arabica and Robusta. Instead of an S-scar there is a straight line on the slightly smaller coffee beans. Robusta mainly grows in Brazil, Angola, Madagascar and Southeast Asia.

Excelsa

It is considered arare delicacy that was discovered in 1904 in western Africa on Lake Chad and is a variant of Liberica coffee. Excelsa beans are similar in size to Robusta. With only one percent of coffee world production, this variety is hardly known to the general public and is therefore of very little economic relevance. The excelsa plant is even more resilient than Robusta and can easily withstand even longer periods of drought. Due to their deep roots, they thrive in particularly dry areas and need little rain. This strain takes some getting used to with her strong, earthy flavor. Since the export share is extremely low, Excelsa coffee is quite expensive and only available in specialist shops. The coffee plants are practically only grown in Chad, Africa.

Liberica

If you go in search of Liberica coffee plants, you will have to venture into the jungle. They grow in the Philippines, Indonesia and Sierra Leone, for example. Demand is comparatively low worldwide, so cultivation is rather rare compared to Arabica and Robusta. After all, Liberica plants enjoyed a greater reputation in the past for their good resistance to pests. Liberica is not particularly aromatic because the beans are low in sugar, high in caffeine and hard. Therefore, they are not as aromatic as the Robusta or Arabica varieties.

Maragogipe

The Maragogype coffee bean is a hybrid between the previously described Arabica and Liberica. The Maragogipe beans are gigantic and almost half the size of those of the Arabica plant. This coffee is mainly grown in Mexico and Nicaragua at altitudes of 400 to 1200 meters. Despite its size, the crop yield is usually lower than other coffee varieties. In terms of taste, the variety is suitable for almost every coffee drinker. It is a mild coffee that is low in acid and caffeine. Normally, the coffee beans are roasted very lightly, which has a further influence on the aroma. The coffee from these beans is considered particularly suitable for making filter coffee.

Stenophylla

This coffee plant is native to West Africa, Guinea and Sierra Leone. It is planted at up to 2300 feet above sea level. The beans are round and large, and the fruits turn black as they ripen. Mild in taste (not typically African “earthy”), Stenophylla coffee is almost comparable to tea.

The Most Exclusive Types Of Coffee

The Most Exclusive Types Of Coffee

Among the most famous types of coffee in the world, some peculiarities have mixed in.

Kopi Luwak from Indonesia has become famous as the most expensive variety. It costs several hundred dollars per pound. It is a mixture of Arabica, Excelsa, and Liberica. The extraordinary path of the coffee fruit leads via the stomach of the musang (an Indonesian wild cat), which excretes the beans. Most of the bitter substances are removed during digestion, resulting in a unique taste.

Another special variety is called Jamaica Blue Mountain. This is also a variant of Arabica coffee, which according to its name only grows in Jamaica. The taste is mild, sweet, but very intense. The storage of the limited harvest in selected wooden barrels is also a factor in the high price of the coffee variety.

The third known variety is called Kona and comes from Hawaii. Kona coffee also consists mainly of Arabica beans and is one of the most expensive types. It tastes sweet and mild, but at the same time offers a round flavor volume. Due to the high price, the coffee is rarely sold pure but mixed as a blend with less expensive varieties. The Kona share must be at least 10 percent.

Other special coffees are called Yauco Selecto from Puerto Rico and Arabica Geisha from Panama.

The Difference Between Arabica And Robusta Coffee Beans

There are roughly two types of coffee: Arabica and Robusta. The types of highland coffee belong to the Arabica coffee variety, while the hardy Robusta also thrives in the lowlands. The Arabica bean is very aromatic due to the high proportion of coffee oils, with the Robusta variety containing more bitter substances and twice as much caffeine.

Differences in price between Robusta coffee and Arabica coffee often give inexperienced coffee buyers a wrong impression of the quality. Dealers usually charge more for the Arabica than they charge for a Robusta of comparable quality. The price differences here are not in the quality but in the simpler cultivation. The Robusta plant is comparatively undemanding and, as the name suggests, robust against the effects of the weather.

In addition, the coffee cherries of the Robusta ripen faster than those of the Arabica. With a ripening period of only around six months, coffee farmers can hope for two harvests a year. With Arabica, on the other hand, it is 9-11 months. Were it not for a worldwide love for the fine aromas of Arabica, coffee farmers would probably concentrate their work exclusively on Robusta coffee. World trade is divided between 60% and 40% in favor of Arabica.

A very interesting piece of information is that coffee is actually the world’s second most traded product (after petroleum) and is also the most commonly consumed beverage, after water. The cultivation of the two types of coffee provides work for around 125 million people worldwide. Different beans are also suitable for different coffee recipes. Here you can see what is grown where.

R- robusta beans, A - arabica beans, M = robusta and arabica beans.
R - Robusta Beans, A - Arabica Beans, M - Robusta And Arabica Beans.

The Coffee Plant - A Question Of Size

When growing the coffee plant, a Robusta plant would literally outshine an Arabica plant. Because coffee farmers regularly trim their Robusta plants to keep them below their full height of 25 feet for a more economical harvest. A tedious job that is less necessary with an Arabica plant that is no more than 16 feet high.

In the Robusta, coffee cherries grow closely together on the respective leaf axes. With Arabica, they are evenly distributed over the individual branches. The biggest difference, however, lies in the genome of the plants. The chromosome count of most Arabica species is twice that of the Robusta species. Experts often give this fact as the reason for the complex variety of aromas and the lower intensity in Arabica.

Cultivation Areas Near The Equator

Both types of coffee love the warm, humid areas around the equator. The main growing areas of Robusta coffee are up to 10 degrees north and south of the hemisphere divider, at altitudes from sea level to 700 meters. The largest growing areas are in Vietnam, India, Indonesia, and Africa.

Arabica can handle it a bit cooler as long as the weather holds up. Its growing areas are between 73 degrees north and 77 degrees south latitude, primarily in South America, Africa, Australia, and Indonesia. It is rightly called mountain coffee because it grows in mountainous areas between 3280 and 6560 feet.

Both coffee plants have a water requirement of 10 – 12 inches per cu ft per year. The floor is also subject to high demands. It must be deep, loose, permeable, nutritious, and slightly acidic.

Picking vs Stripping

Picking vs Stripping

During the coffee harvest, the Robusta proves once again that it was given its name with care. When the fruits are ripe, coffee farmers strip them off the Robusta bush with a kind of comb. This method, called stripping, mixes ripe and unripe beans, which then have to be separated from each other.

The Arabica is more sensitive. The farmer picks ripe coffee beans one by one from the bush. If he takes his time picking, the ripe beans will fall to the ground and spoil. In return, however, he only receives high-quality, pre-sorted coffee beans.

If he has enough water available, he then detaches the coffee beans from the shells and processes them further in the high-quality wet processing. In areas with a lack of water, the only option is dry processing, in which the coffee beans lose some of their valuable aromas.

Taste

Do you want your morning coffee to taste strong, full-bodied, and with pronounced earthy notes? Then coffee with a high Robusta content is just right for you. With the higher caffeine content, it is the perfect pick-me-up for morning grouches and early risers.

On the other hand, if you are one of those pleasure drinkers who enjoy their cup of coffee to relax in the afternoon or after dinner in the evening, then Arabica is the coffee of choice.

With her, you can look forward to a noble, fine taste, distinctive aromas, and fine acidity. Of course, there is nothing wrong with trying delicious mixtures of both varieties or changing the variety from time to time. After all, coffee is a luxury food.

Acidity and Sugar

You can choose between Robusta and Arabica for the wonderful caramel and roasted aromas that develop during roasting. Sugars, so-called polysaccharides, are responsible for them, which occur in the same amount in both varieties.

The situation is different with caffeine and chlorogenic acid, which causes a slightly bitter aftertaste. Robusta has significantly more chlorogenic acid and twice the caffeine content of Arabica beans.

Arabica is significantly richer in aromatic coffee oils. These lipids are important building blocks of the famous crema on the espresso. On the other hand, proteins that combine with sugar to form complex flavorings due to the effect of heat are more common in Robusta.

Differences In Color And Shape

Significant differences in the appearance of the fruits and beans make it easy for even the layperson to tell Robusta and Arabica apart. The robusta’s yellow-brownish coffee cherries hide small, rounded coffee beans. Sometimes they are also referred to as round beans. A straight incision is the most striking distinguishing feature.

Flat bean is the apt term for the larger, flatter, and more oval-shaped beans of Arabica. They grow in a greenish to slightly bluish coffee cherry and are characterized by a characteristic curved notch.

The Emerge Of The Variety Of Coffee Varieties

The Emerge Of The Variety Of Coffee Varieties

The different coffee beans form the basis of the various types of coffee, but their cultivation and production are responsible for the different flavors. For example, high-quality beans, such as Arabica, are cultivated in high regions to ensure a long maturing process. Coffee plants also thrive far better in mixed forests on nutrient-rich soil than is the case in monocultures.

The reduced pest infestation is also crucial since fewer fertilizers and pesticides are used here. The processing after the harvest is also responsible for other differences in quality and thus the taste of the coffee.

For example, some manufacturers “bed” the cherries after harvesting for the drying process on the ground or on so-called “dry beds”. These are drying boxes that stand on stilts, so the beans can absorb the sweet aroma from the pulp during this time.

There is still wet processing. With this type of processing, the pulp is separated from the beans. In the subsequent fermentation process, the beans are then fermented with the addition of water, which has a significant influence on the taste characteristics.

Another special feature of high-quality coffees is that the beans are cleaned with air, since the air cleaning removes small residues, for example from shells or wood, from the beans.

What Are The Best Types Of Coffee?

I would of course cite a mix of Catuai, Pacamara, and Geisha from Panama here, but the reality is different. Everyone has their own taste and therefore their own favorite variety.

With more than 800 flavors in coffee, your choice is huge. You can taste coffee practically your whole life and you will have a hard time drinking every available variety. Therefore, in addition to good preparation, you should attach importance to a high-quality basic product and a suitable roast.

Which Type Of Coffee Is Suitable For Which Type Of Preparation?

Cappuccino, espresso but also latte macchiato are usually prepared with fully automatic coffee machines. Whether you choose a high-quality single-origin variety or rather a blend, a mixture of different types of coffee, is a matter of taste.

Which Types Of Coffee Are Suitable For Making Using An Espresso Machine?

Such machines are ideal for espresso-based coffees, which is why you should only use types with an espresso roast.

If you would like to prepare espresso, latte macchiato, and cappuccino in the fully automatic coffee machine, you can opt for a fine Origin variety or for a mixture of different types of coffee.

In principle, types of coffee with espresso roasting are a good choice for espresso machine preparation. Of course, one should not only pay attention to the keyword espresso but also choose a high-quality espresso in order to actually benefit from the potential of the espresso machine.

Which Types Of Coffee Are Suitable For Making Using A Coffee Machine?

It is best to use coffee types with shorter roasting times and low acidity for the preparation. If you are keen to experiment, then use Maragogype-based varieties instead of Robusta or Arabica, as they are particularly suitable for making filter coffee and for preparation in press pots, but not for espresso.

Coffee types with shorter roasting times and less acidity taste particularly good when preparing filter coffee or using the plunger pot.

Our recommendation: Varieties that have been processed on the basis of Maragogype beans are ideal here!

Conclusion

There are hundreds of different types and types of coffee worldwide, with Arabica and Robusta coffee playing the leading role in the growing areas. The coffee beans sometimes differ significantly, both in terms of taste and aroma as well as resistance to weather and pests.

That’s why it’s all the more interesting to try different varieties from all over the world and find your own favorite variety.

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