Have you ever wondered while ordering your favorite drink at the barista about what differs the several varieties of coffee beans available on the market? Here’s an interesting fact: coffee is grown in around 70 countries and is experiencing a growing interest worldwide.

Main types of coffee beans

There are four distinct types of coffee beans: Arabica, Robusta, Liberica, and Excelsa. The most popular ones are Arabica and Robusta, since the other two are characterized by a lower abundance.  

Arabica beans are the most popular type, constituting around 65% of the world’s coffee. There are several varieties of Arabica coffee, but the most common are Bourbon, Caturra, and Typica. The name Arabica comes from the fact that this type of bean was popular in 7th Century Arabia. Arabica beans are pricier than the other three types since they are harder to grow, due to the fact that this plant thrives at higher altitudes, and even could have an even higher quality if planted in volcanic soil. As for the taste, this type of bean is known for its smooth, complex flavor and lack of bitterness.

Robusta is the second most popular type accounting for 40% of coffee production, which generated in sub-Saharan Africa, and is now popular in Vietnam and Indonesia. It’s a less expensive variety often mixed into coffee blends, which has a harsher and more bitter taste to it. Additionally, Robusta beans contain a significantly larger caffeine content than other types, which makes it even more interesting.

As for Liberica, which is a low yield type of coffee compared to Arabica and Robusta (accounting for less than 2% of worldwide production) but with a larger and more irregular shape of the cherry. It is also mixed with other varieties to add complexity. Liberica coffee is characterized by a strong fruity and floral flavor, but with smokiness which causes controversial opinions among coffee enjoyers. Liberica beans are most commonly found in the Philippines.

Finally, the fourth type of coffee is Excelsa, which has been recently classified as a Liberica variant. Excelsa beans are lighter on their aroma and caffeine content, and are commonly found in blends. This type is grown in southeast Asia, and has a unique teardrop shape. 

What are the types of coffee roasts?

Coffee roast types refer to how long have the green coffee beans been roasted for. As expected, each roast level brings out different characteristics of the beans, making them suitable for brewing. 

  1. Light roast

The beans will be pale brown, with no trace of oil. Light roasting coffee beans is usually done with the goal of retaining the natural flavors in mind.

2. Medium roast

Medium roasted beans are medium brown, also with no trace of oil, but have a stronger smell.

3. Medium-Dark roast

Medium-dark roast beans have chocolate and nut flavors. They are also characterized by little to no acidity. However, this roasting method causes the beans to have some oil on the surface.

4. Dark roast

Dark roast beans have a clear bitter and toasty flavor, characterized by having no acidity, and visible oil on the surface.