We’re all coffee lovers here. Nothing quite touches our soul like that first sip of coffee in the morning. But do you ever think about the stuff that’s actually in your cup? And by stuff I mean the coffee beans.
It’s funny how this magical drink has played an important role in our daily lives, yet we don’t often give it too much of a thought. How much did you think about the coffee beans that were used to make that cup of goodness in your hands today?
Okay, for the average person, this might not even be a matter of concern. But for coffee nerds, this should be a subject of significant interest!
There are many varieties of coffee beans, with more than a hundred types of coffee trees documented today.
However, despite the wide variety only three types or species are commercially available. Read on and broaden your coffee knowledge.
The Arabica species was first found in Ethiopia. Today, it is the most common coffee species cultivated for commercial purposes. Noted for its superior quality over other species, Arabica beans produce gourmet coffee thanks to more aromatic and pleasing flavours.
An interesting characteristic of this species is that the coffee often tastes quite different depending on the location in which they were grown. For example, those from Ethiopia taste have a berry undertone while those from India and Indonesia have an earthy taste. This type of bean is best grown in low altitudes. The different varieties of this species are named after the country where they are from. Today, Arabica coffee makes up approximately 70% of the coffee bean market.
The second most cultivated type of coffee, Robusta contributes to about 30% of the world’s coffee. It is native to the Republic of Congo and therefore this coffee species is sometimes known as Congo coffee. Like Arabica, Robusta is best grown in lower altitudes.
It is produced in Indonesia, Vietnam, Brazil and West Africa. Compared to Arabica, Robusta is easier to grow and more resistant to disease. Although higher in caffeine, Robusta is generally regarded as inferior to that of Arabica coffee. In terms of taste, this species is rather bitter and less aromatic. It is widely used to enhance taste in some espresso coffee blends.
Liberia Coffee, commonly known as Liberian coffee is found in the forests of Liberia. Its beans are flat, uneven and are twice as big as most other beans. Its quality is similar to that of Robusta. Liberian coffee is commercially grown in West Africa and Malaysia however, only small quantities are traded internationally.
Similar to Robusta, Liberian coffee is resistant to parasites making them easier to grow. This type of coffee plant is also used as graft holder for acquiring new coffee varieties.
Think you can identify the type of coffee beans in your coffee? Next time you have your regular dose of caffeine, think about the beans that are in your cup. What type do you prefer, the higher caffeine hit of Robusta or the smooth taste of Arabica?