Discovering the World of Coffee Bean Origins & Types: A Beginner's Guide

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Discovering the World of Coffee Bean Origins & Types: A Beginner's Guide

Coffee is the drink that rescues us from tiredness and attracts us with its aroma and taste! It has been in our lives for between 1200- 1300 years, but it feels as if it has always existed. We don't give our cup of coffee a lot of thought beyond, "I need that coffee!" - But the journey it takes to get to us is long and full of care.

Are you an avid coffee drinker? Maybe you were wondering just how many different types of coffee beans there are, and what makes them unique? We've got answers!

The 4 Different Types of Coffee Beans:

Coffee comes in over 100 varieties, but Arabica and Robusta are the most popular, while Liberica and Excelsa are less common. In short, there are four main coffee types: Arabica, Robusta, Excelsa, and Liberica, each with radically different tastes.  Let’s discuss each one by one.

Arabica Coffee Beans (Coffea arabica)

60% of the world's coffee is made from arabica beans, making it the most popular type of coffee bean. The tasty beans originated in the highlands of Ethiopia many centuries ago and may have been the first coffee ever consumed!

Their long, thin, and high acidity content makes their taste sweet, fruity, and sometimes even fruity. The high altitudes where these beans grow ensure that they receive just the right amount of shade and rainfall for a delicious taste. Normally Arabica trees don't reach heights of more than 6 feet.

Probably one of the reasons this is a coffee bean variety so popular worldwide is that the trees are easy to grow, they are relatively small, and they can be pruned easily.

Due to the fact that Arabica beans require extra shade, water, and high altitude to grow properly, they cost more than their alternatives.

Robusta Coffee Beans (Coffea Caniphora)

Following Arabica beans is Robusta, which is the second most commonly grown bean in the world.

The Robusta bean, as the name implies, is both hardy and disease resistant. Originating in sub-Saharan Africa, this bean is now primarily grown in Africa and Indonesia. It is also particularly popular in Vietnam, where it is usually added to coffee blends. Roasters will find it a particularly budget-friendly choice since it is less expensive.

There is a smooth texture to these beans, and they are often described as having a subtle chocolate flavour to them, making them ideal for use in milk and sugar (or an iced coffee).

Liberica Coffee Beans (Coffea liberica)

One of the hardest coffee beans to find is the Liberica bean. This bean is larger than all others, and it is the only one in the world to have an irregular shape.

The Coffea liberica plant grows in central and western Africa, specifically Liberia, hence its name. It has an aromatic floral scent, and its flavour is bold, smoky, and with a subtle hint of caramel. Hardy Liberica beans are often blended with other varieties to add body and complexity, but rarely get any credit. Their distinctive smell is also unique, and some say they taste fruity and floral as well as smoky. 

Excelsa Coffee Beans (Coffea excelsa)

Excelsa is a fourth major coffee bean type. Though once believed to be a distinct species, it was recently reclassified as a Liberica variation. Excelsa beans have a unique taste profile. They combine light roast characteristics such as tart notes and fruity flavors with dark roast scents and flavours. They are also lighter on aroma and caffeine - while retaining an unusual depth of flavour.

Excelsa beans are almost entirely found in Southeast Asia, and their shape resembles that of Liberica beans - elongated and oval.

Now that you're familiar with the major types of coffee beans, you're ready to pick the one that suits your taste and preference!

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