Your Guide to Figuring Out Coffee Beans
Did you know that coffee beans are fruit seeds found inside red berries? Legend has it that in the 9th century, shepherds observed their goats dancing around after consuming these berries. To get to the root of the animals’ strange behaviour, a monk decided to mash the berries and drink their juice by mixing it in water. The berries’ juice kept him awake all night. This way, the monk made the connection between the goats’ behaviour and the berries, as well as coffee drinking.
Next to crude oil, coffee is the most traded commodity globally. Many online stores such as Glasshouse Mountains Coffee sell gourmet, premium, and specialty coffee. Each day, the global consumption of coffee is around 2.25 billion cups. Coffee beans are grown in a specific climate called “The Bean Belt.” This climate is found in Columbia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Peru, Brazil, Honduras, Sumatra, and Papua New Guinea.
The word coffee is derived from the Arabic term wine of the bean. Cappuccino, the frothy drink many people seem to love, is named after Capuchin monks.
Stories aside, let’s talk about the different types of coffees in the world. Technically, there are four coffee bean categories with dozens of blends. Not all coffee beans taste the same because they are grown at different altitudes.
Let’s look at the most common coffee beans that you can buy from online stores such as Glasshouse Mountains Coffee and find out what they taste like:
Arabica coffee beans are the most popular type of coffee beans. They are considered premium quality beans and make up for 60% of the coffee beans in the world. These beans come from Ethiopia and might possibly be the first beans ever consumed.
Arabica beans are quite hard to grow, so they are pricier. While most beans grow in the tropics of Capricorn and Cancer called Bean Belt, Arabica beans need more water, shade, and high altitude. At altitudes lower than 2,000 ft., the plants might develop diseases.
Arabica coffee is known for its complex and smooth flavour that lacks bitterness. Since these beans are grown in different regions, they might have varying tasting notes, including floral Ethiopian and earthy Indonesian.
Native to western and central Africa, Liberica has a smoky, bold flavour profile and floral aroma. Its beans are mixed with a variety of other beans for complexity. Liberica didn’t enter the West until the 1800s. This coffee bean got a foothold in Southeast Asia when a fungal disease known as coffee rust ended the Arabica crops in the region.
Liberica cherries have an irregular shape. They can tolerate humid and hot climates at low altitudes. This bean is now primarily produced in Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia.
Liberica has a polarizing and controversial reputation for wild inconsistency. A person who has stuck to a single taste all their life will probably not like Liberica coffee. According to some drinkers, this coffee has an unusual woody and nutty flavour with a sneaky backbite finish. Those who drink it for the first time say it tastes like burnt garbage.
Robusta coffee beans are from sub-Saharan Africa. Today, they primarily grow in Indonesia and Africa. It is also popular in Vietnam. This coffee is often mixed with other types to create a unique blend. Robusta is budget-friendlier than Arabica.
Robusta beans are more rounded and larger. Its plants grow larger than Arabica plants and measure around 20 ft. in height. These beans are more robust because they can resist diseases and grow at low altitudes. However, in some regions, they can’t handle the intense heat.
Most people say that Robusta has a bitter and harsh taste. It tastes somewhat flat and burnt and has a strong smell. Moreover, Robusta has more caffeine compared to Arabica.
Excelsa coffee bean is a unique coffee species often classified as a variant of Liberica. These beans grow in Southeast Asia and have an elongated oval shape. An Excelsa plant can grow as high as 30 ft. at medium altitudes.
Excelsa beans have a pretty unique flavour. They have light roast traits, such as fruity flavours and tart notes. Their caffeine level is low, and despite having a low aroma, they have a depth to the flavour.
A few other less popular coffee beans include:
- Bourbon Beans (Popular in America and Africa)
- Catimor Beans (Popular in India, El Salvador and Nicaragua)
- Catuai Beans (Popular in Brazil)
- Caturra Beans (Popular in Brazil)
- Geisha Beans (Popular in America, Asia and Africa)
- Icatu Beans (Popular in Brazil)
- Jackson Beans (Popular in Rwanda and Burundi)
So, now that you know the A, B, C’s of coffee, you can easily purchase the right beans that match your taste.