Types of Coffee Beans

The heart of a good cup of coffee lies in the bean used to make the coffee. Technically, the coffee bean is the seed of the coffee plant; it is the pit inside the reddish purple fruit pulled from the plant. These fruits are commonly called coffee berries.

Coffee beans are grown in over 50 countries around the world. First discovered in Ethiopia thousands of years ago it soon was cultivated and spread around the world. Today’s coffee is mostly from Latin America, Western Africa and the Philippines. Coffee is also abundant in Indonesia and southeastern Asia.

Arabica and Robusta are the two main categories of beans that are used for making coffee. These two make up approximately ninety percent of all the coffee drank today. Each bean has a different characteristic based on the growing region, the picking method, the roasting method and finally the actual preparation.

Bean Types

The Arabica bean accounts for over 75% of the beans used to make coffee. These beans are full of flavor and have less caffeine than Robusta beans. Arabica beans are primarily grown in Africa and Latin America. There are several varieties of the Arabica bean; each with its own distinctive flavor based on the region of the country it as grown in.

These varieties have distinct tastes that make them popular among coffee drinkers. For example, Ethiopian beans tend to have a smooth flavor with a hint of floral. Tanzanian coffees have a fruity aftertaste, similar to coffees from Kenya.

Latin America offers many varieties that are widely popular worldwide. Brazilian coffee has a bitter cocoa flavor with a slight trace of nuts. One of the more popular Latin specialty coffee , Columbian coffee is a rich, strong coffee, perfect for waking up in the mornings. It has a thick, deep feel followed by a walnut ending.

Latin America is also responsible for growing some of the best Robusta beans. These beans contain approximately 5% more caffeine than the Arabica bean and also tend to be less expensive. Robusta beans have less oil and a higher acidity than Arabica beans which makes them more bitter in taste.

Sumatra and Komoto, two areas in Asia are responsible for cultivating Robusta beans that are more acidic and bitter than other areas. However, the flavor and texture of the beans are full bodied, slightly herbal and very tasty.

Influencing Factors

In addition to the growing region, there are other factors that can affect the taste of the bean. Roasting methods are a huge influence on the resulting taste. The longer the beans are roasted, the darker, more full-bodied and full of flavor the coffee will be.

Other factors that influence the taste of a bean or cup of coffee are roasting methods and final preparation. As a rule of thumb, the greater the amount of time spent roasting, the darker, more full-bodied, and flavorful a coffee will be.

As can be seen from the various tastes and flavors the beans produce, they truly are the heart and soul of a good cup of coffee. Low quality beans will produce low quality coffees while a good bean means a great coffee.

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