There are several types of coffee beans, but the two most commonly cultivated and consumed species are Coffea arabica (Arabica) and Coffea canephora (Robusta). Each type has its own unique characteristics, flavor profiles, and growing requirements. Let’s take a closer look at these two primary coffee beans types:
- Arabica Coffee Beans:
– Coffea arabica, commonly known as Arabica coffee, accounts for the majority of coffee production worldwide (about 60-70%).
– Arabica beans are generally considered to produce a higher-quality cup of coffee with more complex and nuanced flavors.
– They are grown at higher elevations, typically between 2,000 to 6,000 feet (600 to 1,800 meters) above sea level.
– Arabica beans have a smoother, milder taste with subtle acidity and notes of sweetness, fruitiness, and floral aromas.
– These beans are more susceptible to diseases and pests, requiring careful cultivation and maintenance.
- Robusta Coffee Beans:
– Coffea canephora, commonly known as Robusta coffee, makes up the remaining portion of global coffee production (about 30-40%).
– Robusta beans are hardier and more resistant to diseases, making them easier to cultivate in various climates, including lower elevations.
– They are grown at lower elevations, typically between sea level and 2,000 feet (0 to 600 meters) above sea level.
– Robusta beans have a stronger and more bitter flavor with higher caffeine content compared to Arabica beans.
– They are often described as having earthy, nutty, and woody flavors.
– Due to their higher caffeine content and robust nature, Robusta beans are often used in espresso blends and instant coffee.
Apart from Arabica and Robusta, there are some lesser-known types and varieties of coffee beans, such as:
– Liberica (Coffea liberica): This type of coffee bean is grown in specific regions of West Africa and has a unique flavor profile. Liberica beans are larger than Arabica and Robusta beans.
– Excelsa (Coffea excelsa or Coffea excelsa var. dewevrei): This type is primarily grown in Southeast Asia and is known for its tart and fruity flavor, adding complexity to certain coffee blends.
While Arabica and Robusta dominate the coffee market, coffee enthusiasts and specialty coffee roasters may explore these lesser-known varieties to experience a diverse range of flavors and characteristics. The type of coffee bean, along with factors such as the region of cultivation, altitude, climate, and processing methods, all contribute to the final flavor profile of the coffee.