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The Ultimate Guide to Every Type of Coffee Bean

The Ultimate Guide to Every Type of Coffee Bean by Coffee Life, an EspressoWorks blog

Coffee fans know that the essence of that delicious cup of Joe that brings so much joy in the mornings and whenever you need a pick-me-up starts with the beans that are used. Not only are there different types of coffee beans, but also where they are grown and how they are roasted also are important factors to consider when picking your favorite beans.

We’ve put together the ultimate guide to every type of coffee bean to help you learn about the wide world of possibilities when it comes to filling up your cup. You will find out that some type of coffee beans and/or roasts are better for certain types of drinks. The type of coffeemaker that you’re using may also produce better flavors or overall quality with certain kinds of beans.

This isn’t just the ultimate guide to every type of coffee bean, however — we’ll also be informing you on the origin of coffee beans and roasts, which can also help you to find the right bean for your tastes.

What are the different types of coffee beans?

There are up to four different types of coffee beans, however two types are particularly popular: Arabica and Robusta. There are also Liberica and Excelsa coffee beans, which are not that commonly used.

Arabica: This type of coffee bean is the most familiar to coffee consumers and makes up more than 60% of the coffee that’s produced around the around. Arabica beans are grown at high altitudes, where there is a lot of rain and shade. Nevertheless, the Arabica plants don’t grow there naturally; so although they are the most common type of coffee bean, they are also delicate to grow.

When using Arabica beans at home, brewing as a drip or pour-over brings out its multi-layered bold flavors and aromas to the forefront. It is best enjoyed hot, as the bean loses flavor when it’s cooled. A creamer may also diminish the flavor, so it’s best to enjoy it straight up.

Robusta: The second most well known type of coffee bean is Robusta; and as its name suggests, these beans come from a very resilient plant that can survive in different climates and doesn’t need rain regularly. While the Arabica plant is susceptible to disease, the Robusta plant is not and it protects itself with the beans’ caffeine — which offers double the amount compared to Arabica beans.

Robusta coffee is often described as having a smooth taste as well as hints of chocolate. It pairs deliciously with cream and sugar, and also is great for making iced coffee.

Liberica: An important varietal in the history of coffee making, Liberica beans are not very common nowadays. Originating in the Philippines, these coffee beans were first grown to provide an alternative to Arabica beans. However, when the Philippines declared its independence from the U.S., farmers in the Philippines could no longer get coffee beans from its former government.

Liberica beans continue to be difficult to find; however, they are described as having an asymmetrical shape that’s larger compared to other beans. Their aroma ranges from floral and fruity to smoky and even woodsy.

Excelsa: Although Excelsa is part of the Liberica family; it has a lot of its own unique characteristics. These beans produce coffee that tastes fruity with a complex flavor that also is described as dark and smoky.

Where do coffee beans grown?

Coffee is known to come from three regions primarily — Latin America, Africa or Arabia and Indonesia.

Latin American coffee typically comes from central and south America, Columbia, Panama and Mexico, among others. Coffee beans that come from this region are said to product coffee that is light and balanced, and are often best enjoyed in the morning with breakfast.

Coffee beans that come from Africa or the Middle East feature flavors that are complex and dark. This medium-body coffee pairs well with chocolate and some cheeses.

Asia and nearby islands also produce coffee with its own unique characteristics. This heavy-bodied coffee offers earthy, smooth flavors. These beans produce coffee that can be paired with delicious chocolately deserts.

What do I need to know about roasts?

The ultimate guide to every type of coffee bean would not be complete without a look at all the different types of roasts. When you familiarize yourself with different types of roasts, then you’ll know what to expect when it comes to your beans’ flavor, body, acidity and aroma.

The color of coffee roasts says a lot about it. Light roasts, which are a light brown color, will typically have a low flavor and acidity — from there, the darker the roast, the more body and acidity that it contains. Dark roasts deliver a consistent taste that can complement an espresso. 

There is so much more about coffee beans that can be learned, but we hope that this ultimate guide to every type of coffee bean served as a helpful intro. Remember to have fun while getting to know your beans!

REVEALED: How long after roasting is coffee good for?