If you are a coffee enthusiast, you know that every coffee bean type has its distinct flavour and strength.
There are four main types of coffee beans at it is core — some have a noticeable difference between light roasts and dark roasts and they all vary in flavour profiles!
If you are new to the coffee world, knowing the difference between the four types of coffee beans can be overwhelming. To all you caffeinated peeps, there were lots of things I didn’t know about coffee when I started my caffeine journey, too.
So, to help you figure out which coffee bean works best for you, let me share what I’ve learned about each type of coffee bean.
An All-In Guide To The 4 Types Of Coffee Beans
The roast level is not the only thing that affects the taste of coffee. Even the origin, growing conditions, and of course, species (which I will discuss later) influence your coffee beans.
But before anything else, let us first tackle the four coffee types.
According to Statistica.com, Arabica coffee’s global production from 2020 to 2021 amounted to approximately 102.1 million 60kg bags. This means 60% of the coffee production worldwide consists of Arabica.
Arabica coffee plants grow at high altitudes, require plenty of shade, and need steady rainfall. They are easy to care for but are also delicate.
Changes in the environment may affect the growth of Arabica coffee plants.
This type of beans has more complex and sweeter flavours compared to Robusta. It has a smooth taste and some notes of sugar and chocolates.
Arabica beans also have hints of berries and fruits.
Robusta beans account for the second most-produced coffee worldwide. This coffee plant thrives well in hot climates, even with minimal rain. You can even grow it at different altitudes.
Robusta beans are harsher and more bitter than Arabica in terms of flavour. It contains twice Arabica’s caffeine amount, making it a good energy booster in the morning. The amount of caffeine in Robusta also makes it robust.
Similar to Arabica beans, Robusta has a smooth texture. It has a slight hint of chocolate, but the bitterness makes it perfect for making espresso, milk, and sugar concoctions.
Despite the bitter taste, Robusta coffee has less acidity than Arabica.
Another addition to the 4 types of coffee beans is Liberica. This coffee bean type has a larger size than others, along with its irregular shape.
There is a limited supply of Liberica beans as of today. The reason is that there had been a spat between the USA and the Philippines in the 90s. Such prompted the US to stop supplying Liberica to the Philippines for a time.
Liberica reappeared in 1995 when conservationists brought and grew the last remaining plants to the Philippines. Unfortunately, the limited stock of this coffee type can still be felt today.
Moreover, pure Liberica coffee beans have unique, fruity, and floral aromas. It also tastes smoky, which is far from the taste of other coffee bean types.
The last on the list of the four types of coffee beans types is Excelsa. It belongs to the Liberica family, despite having a different taste.
You will mostly find Excelsa coffee plants in Southeast Asia. Since it is a relatively new coffee bean type, only 7% of the world’s coffee circulation consists of Excelsa.
Excelsa coffee beans look similar to Robusta coffee, but that does not mean they taste the same.
If you love blended coffees, you may find the taste of this coffee appealing as it can boost a coffee blend’s flavour and complexity. According to people who have tried it, Excelsa has tart and fruity notes, which taste similar to light-roasted beans.
Factors that Affect How Coffee Beans Taste
Avid coffee drinkers may taste different flavour profiles in a single coffee cup. Some coffees are bitter, while others can be sweet and chocolatey.
But did you know that apart from roast and preparation, there are other factors that can affect the taste of coffee beans while they are on the plant?
Moving on from the four types of coffee beans, let me share the factors that can influence the taste and quality of coffee.
The taste of coffee beans differs depending on where they come from. The reason? Different places mean different altitudes, soil, amount of rainfall, and wind.
For instance, coffee beans grown in high altitudes produce less caffeine than those from lower origins. On the other hand, coffee from cooler places matures progressively, which results in sweet and complex flavour profiles and high acidity.
You can roast the 4 types of coffee beans differently, with each roast level changing the beans’ flavours.
There are three roast levels: light, medium, and dark roast. The longer the coffee bean is roasted, the more their flavours and scent develop. Meanwhile, lightly roasted coffee beans taste delicate.
The grind size of your coffee can also affect its taste. The right grind size for coffee depends on the brewing tool you will use. The final brew will taste too bitter if you use finely ground coffee on brewing equipment for coarse grind.
Additionally, coarse grounds will only let the water flow between them, so the resulting brew tastes light.
On the other hand, fine grounds allow more flavour to infuse with the water. So, along with the 4 types of coffee beans, the grind size will also affect the taste.
The Coffee Beans’ Freshness
Coffee beans lose their freshness after you roast them. If you store your coffee beans in a simple jar, your coffee will lose its aroma.
But if you place your coffee beans in an airtight container, you will be able to retain their flavour and freshness for up to five weeks. You can also preserve the beans’ freshness by grinding them just before brewing.
Frequently Asked Questions About The 4 Types Of Coffee Beans
Which is better between Robusta and Liberica?
Robusta and Liberica coffee beans have different flavour profiles, so you cannot compare them.
But if you are a fan of iced and milk-infused coffee, Robusta beans are ideal to use. This is because Robusta beans have a bitter taste, so sugar and milk will not overpower them.
What is a grade 1 coffee?
Grade 1 or speciality grade coffee beans have zero to three full defects for every 300 grams of coffee. These coffee bean grades are also sorted with a maximum and minimum 5% screen size.
Coffee beans within the grade 1 specification have a distinct taste, body, acidity, or aroma.
What is AAA coffee?
AAA Arabica coffee is the highest and most excellent grade of Indian Arabica. It boasts a rich flavour and taste, almost perfect for every palate.
The 4 types of coffee beans undoubtedly have their own flavours and aromas. For this reason, the best coffee for you will always depend on your preference and tastebuds.
But regardless of what coffee type you choose, you need to ensure that you use the right storage and brewing techniques to maintain their greatness.