4 Main Types of Coffee Beans: Their Characteristics and Flavour

If you enjoy coffee, you’ve probably wondered how many distinct varieties of coffee beans there are and what distinguishes them. Arabica, Robusta, Liberica, and Excelsa are the four varieties of coffee beans. Arabica and Robusta are the most prevalent (and popular), but you might get lucky and come across the other two. Continue reading to learn everything there is to know about these delectable beans.

1. Arabica

Characteristic: Arabica beans are by far the most popular type of coffee bean, accounting for around 60% of the world’s coffee production. Arabica beans require additional shade, water, and a high altitude to thrive. These plants are more prone to plant diseases and must be grown at a minimum elevation of 2,000 feet. They are also smaller plants, with mature heights ranging from 8 to 15 feet.

Flavour: Arabica coffee beans are the highest-quality kind. They are well-known for their smooth, nuanced flavour and absence of bitterness.  Arabica beans can have a variety of flavours depending on where they are cultivated, ranging from earthy Indonesian to floral Ethiopian.

2. Robusta

Characteristic: Robusta is the second most popular type of coffee bean. Robusta beans are larger and rounder than other bean types. Robusta beans are considered hardier because they can grow at lower altitudes and are disease resistant. However, new research indicates that they do not withstand heat as well as previously supposed.

Flavour: Many people believe that Robusta coffee is harsher and more bitter than Arabica coffee. It frequently has a strong smell and a flat, almost burnt flavour. Robusta beans contain far more caffeine than Arabica beans. 

3. Liberica

Characteristic: This hardy species is regularly combined with others to enhance body and intricacy. Most Liberica cherries are irregular in shape and resemble Robusta in size and appearance. It tolerates hot, humid weather and grows well at low altitudes.

Flavour: Liberica coffee has a contentious and divisive reputation for tremendous inconsistency. Those who have tried this unusual variety either adore it or despise it. Some coffee consumers adore the unique, nutty, woody flavour and sly backbite on the end. 

4. Excelsa

Characteristic: Excelsa is the fourth primary type of coffee bean. Though it was formerly thought to be a distinct coffee species, scientists have reclassified it as a Liberica variety. Excelsa beans are shaped similarly to Liberica beans – elongated ovals. At medium altitudes, these beans grow on enormous 20 to 30-foot coffee plants.

Flavour: Excelsa beans have a distinct flavour. They combine light roast characteristics such as acidic notes and fruity aromas with qualities that are more reminiscent of dark roasts. They’re also lower in fragrance and caffeine, yet keeping an extraordinary depth of flavour.

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