Most people drink coffee out of habit, some drink it for the taste, but very few actually understand the 4 types of coffee beans there are. Each one produces a different flavor profile and can change the entire taste of your coffee. This is also not taking into account the growing regions and special harvesting processes of the coffee beans.
Have you ever order the same coffee drink from 2 separate locations, and you really didn’t like the taste of one of them?
There could be many reasons behind this, but more commonly, it’s due to the type of coffee bean that is used. You don’t have to be a coffee expert to tell the difference either, once you know the underlying flavor of each bean, you can always tell.
Find out about the differences between coffee beans and cocoa beans here.
What are the 4 Types of Coffee Beans?
The 4 types of coffee are Arabica, Robusta, Liberica, and Excelsa. Each of these types of bean has entirely different flavors and produces different coffees.
Some people may think that there are only two types of coffee beans which are the Arabica beans (coffee Arabica) and Robusta (coffee canephora) typically because they are the most common beans sold, but there are actually four.
Liberica (coffee liberica) and Excelsa (coffee liberica var. dewevrei) are the last two types of coffee. Did you know that there are also 28 types of coffee you can make/order?
Arabica beans, also known as Arabian Coffee, were the first type of coffee bean to be cultivated. Although Arabica is known as Arabian coffee, it was not discovered in Arabia, but in Ethiopia by a goat herder named Kaldi.
Arabica beans make up about 60% of the coffee production in the world. It grows fruitfully in areas with abundant rain and shade, and at high elevations. Brazil is considered to be the top producer and exporter of Arabica beans due to its dense rainforest.
Compared to other types of coffee beans, Arabica is less acidic and has a more delicate, sweeter flavor.
The next type of coffee bean originated in central and western sub-Saharan Africa. Robusta beans, scientifically identified as coffee canephora, are believed to have higher caffeine and antioxidant content compared to Arabica.
According to Index Mundi, Vietnam is the top country that produces Robusta coffee, with about 30,000 bags produced. In Vietnam, Robusta accounts for 95% of the coffee production, while only 5% goes to Arabica.
Robusta beans, as the name suggests, are very resilient and are insusceptible to several diseases. Compared to Arabica, Robusta will grow even in the most unfavorable environments.
If you are the type of coffee lover who prefers their coffee strong, then Robusta will best suit your palate. Robusta has a bitter, rubbery taste because of its high levels of caffeine. This coffee bean is an ideal option for people who love to have their coffee with milk or sugar.
Robusta is very popular in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East and is cheaper compared to Arabica.
Liberica coffee is among the rarest coffee to get. The Liberica is native to Liberia, West Africa, but has now been naturalized and grown in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
Back in the 19th century, Liberica was introduced in Indonesia to take the place of Arabica trees that were destroyed by a multicellular basidiomycete fungus known as Hemileia vastatrix that caused coffee leaf rust (CLR).
Liberica coffee beans are more expensive compared to Robusta and Arabica, due to their limited supply and rareness. Those who have tried Liberica coffee say that they have a fruity flavor and smoky notes.
The last type of coffee bean is known as Excelsa or Coffea dewevrei or dewevreié. It was first discovered in Central Africa in 1903.
Until now, there is still debate on whether or not Excelsa should be classified as a Coffea genus on its own or be categorized as part of the Liberica species. Much like Liberica coffee, Excelsa is farmed primarily in Southeast Asia and accounts for an even smaller fraction than Liberica in the world’s coffee production.
Excelsa is known to have a tarty, fruity flavor, and is believed to work well with light and dark coffee roast attributes.
The Most Popular Coffee Bean
Arabica beans are the most popular type of coffee bean sold and consumed globally, despite the fact that it is more expensive compared to Robusta.
One of the reasons why Arabica coffee is very popular is because of its taste profile. A cup of high-quality Arabica coffee produces a sweet flavor with hints of nuts, chocolate, and caramel. Arabica beans are less acidic and have lower caffeine content, which makes them less bitter.
Brazil is among the top Arabica coffee-producing country in the world.
The Most Caffeinated Type of Coffee Bean
According to Bustle, Robusta is known to be the most caffeinated, with a caffeine content of 2.4% compared to Arabica with only 1.5%. The reason lies in the lower altitude that Robusta beans grow.
The fact that they can grow even in unfavorable environments where pests and diseases are very common, the caffeine present in Robusta acts as a natural pesticide and helps in making them thrive.
The Most Expensive Coffee Bean
Back in the day, Kopi Luwak was considered to be the most expensive coffee bean sold, which can go from $100 to $500 per pound. What made it very expensive is the process the beans go through. These coffee beans are collected from Asian palm civet excrement.
Now, there are several coffee beans sold that are as expensive as Kopi Luwak or even more, one of which is Black Ivory Coffee. Black Ivory Coffee is another type of coffee blend that is collected from animal waste. This coffee originated in Thailand, where elephants would consume Arabica coffee beans and the feces collected for coffee production.
The Final Sip
As you can see, the two most common types of coffee beans are Arabica and Robusta. Some coffee companies mix these to craft a perfect blend of aromatic and flavorful coffee.
If you’re curious as to how Liberica tastes, why not give the Philippines a spot for your next travel destination, where Liberica is highly sold and consumed. Their local term for it is Kapeng Barako and you can taste the best-tasting Liberica beans in the provinces of Cavite and Batangas.
Otherwise, order different types of beans online and taste them at home to see the best flavors to suit your profile.