Four Types Of Coffee Beans And Their Characteristics

Josh Genuth

As a coffee drinker, have you considered the diverse varieties of coffee beans available or where they originate? If you consider yourself a coffee enthusiast, we recommend that you study more about the variety of beans available in the market today. Arabica, Excelsa, Robusta and Liberica are the four primary coffee varieties, and each has a distinct flavor profile. Stay on this page to understand more about these beans.

Arabica

Arabica coffee is the most widely distributed in North America. This is a result of its less acidic nature and fine flavors. Arabica beans are typically grown in regions with a lot of rain, thus helping to make Brazil the world's largest supplier of Arabica beans.

The plants themselves are rather sensitive, requiring continuous monitoring of the environmental conditions. Of note is that this species of coffee plant is highly susceptible to infection, making large-scale production tricky. Although this raises the price of the bean significantly on the worldwide market, it hasn’t stopped many coffee enthusiasts from paying the premium to enjoy its mild, sweet flavor.

Excelsa

Considered a lesser-known player in the coffee industry, Excelsa coffee is a rare and hardy species that was first unearthed in Africa. In part because of the way it's sold, roasted, and brewed, limited information regarding this variety of coffee beans is available.

Further dampening its potential is the fact that the beans are frequently improperly farmed or processed and dismissed as having no distinguishing flavor qualities. Nonetheless, according to Excelsa's expert roasters, the correct medium-light roasts may provide fruity undertones, as well as woody and popcorn-like aromas. As the roast progresses, the bean develops an even richer body, leading to flavors that hint of cream and chocolate.

Robusta

Although it is considered to have a less sophisticated flavor, Robusta is often utilized in espresso blends. Part of the reason is its ability to generate a creamier coating on top of an espresso shot than its cousin, the Arabica bean. It is also resistant to pests, delivers higher yields, and has greater caffeine content.

The bitter undertones of Robusta coffee are most noticeable when you take a sip. Robusta beans of higher grade tend to have a silky finish, minimal acidity, and undertones of chocolate. However, it should be noted that farmers sometimes try to take advantage of Robusta's popularity by growing the beans in unsuitable regions, resulting in sub-standard produce. If you observe that your Robusta has a flat fragrance or rubbery flavor, it is probably a casualty of such farming methods.

Liberica

It's probably general knowledge that most factory-manufactured coffee beans originate from Arabica and Robusta beans. Yet it is important to know that there are additional, less common coffee bean variations. Liberica is one of them, accounting for less than 2% of commercially available coffee sold globally.

The Liberica coffee plant, which originates from Liberia in West Africa, bears bigger, irregular-shaped fruits than Arabica plants. It has a flowery and fruity scent, yet when brewed into coffee, tastes earthy and full-bodied. Liberica beans are frequently used to add depth to coffee blends due to their rich taste.

Most of the time, when we think about how coffee is classified and sold, we imagine things like roasting characteristics and country of origin. This information is useful, but it does not provide the full picture. We hope that through this article, you're now a little enlightened about the various types of coffee beans available in the market, and their characteristics.