If you're into coffee, you've probably already figured out how many different coffees there are on the market. Before we started with Zwarte Roes, it was also a mystery to us and we sometimes couldn't see the wood for the trees.
To really understand exactly what it is about all these types of coffee beans, I want to take you to the basics.
You have probably heard of 100% Arabica, but in addition to Arabica there are three other types of coffee beans.
In this blog I will take you a little deeper into the wonderful world of coffee. There are big differences between the different types of coffee beans that can help you enormously in your decision which coffee you are going to buy next time.
And beware, some types of coffee are undrinkable! Fortunately , our Arabica coffee beans do. We have chosen to only sell 100% Arabica coffee because of the excellent and complex flavor profiles of this coffee variety.
I will explain the different types of coffee in order of popularity. Arabica, Robusta, Liberica and finally Excelsa.
Arabica coffee comes from the coffee beans of the Coffea Arabica plant. This plant originated in Ethiopia and was discovered by goatherd Kaldi in the 10th century.
Kaldi found out that his goats became very happy after eating the berries of this plant. He went to investigate and found out that there was a special substance in these coffee berries, caffeine.
Read also: Where does coffee come from?
Arabica is the world's most popular type of coffee. Arabica coffee accounts for 60% of the cups of coffee consumed worldwide. The Arabica coffee plant also has many different sub-species. These are the types that you can find on the label with our Arabica coffee beans.
Below is a list of the most popular types:
- And much more…
In the introduction I mentioned that Arabica generally has more complex flavor profiles than the other types of coffee beans.
Of course there is no arguing about taste, but 100% Arabica coffee is known for having the most complex, fruity and acidic flavors of all coffees.
This also contributes to its worldwide popularity and the growth of specialty coffee. Because specialty coffee is all about the most unique flavors possible and a high acidity level in your cup of coffee.
Finally, the Arabica coffee type is also the most expensive. This is mainly due to the fact that this coffee plant only grows at high altitudes.
The plant makes a lot of demands on its living environment, such as humidity, rainfall, sunshine and much more. All factors that make these coffee beans more scarce and which drive up the price considerably.
Robusta coffee comes from the Coffea Canephora plant, which originally also comes from Africa. The coffee beans of the Robusta plant are a lot less popular than the Arabica coffee beans.
Known for its bitter taste properties, Robusta is mainly used in instant coffee, espresso or as a filler for some blends and ground coffee.
This is mainly due to the cheaper price of Robusta coffee.
The taste of robusta is therefore mainly bitter and less complex than the Arabica varieties. Often in espressos, cappuccinos or lattes, people are looking for a somewhat 'stronger' taste in the coffee. Robusta can certainly contribute to this.
The somewhat more bitter flavors are mainly due to the higher caffeine content in Robusta coffee. This can reinforce the idea of “stronger coffee” even more.
Robusta grows at lower elevations than its popular sibling, Arabica. The name says it all, but this plant is a lot more robust and much less susceptible to diseases and parasites. The plant grows easily and quickly and a good harvest can be obtained from it.
By the way, that robustness comes from the higher amount of caffeine present in the berries of the plant. This natural defense mechanism protects the plant against diseases, fungi and parasites.
Due to the easier and larger harvests and a less popular flavor profile, this coffee is also a lot cheaper than the Arabica variety.
Is that the reason why the big coffee brands add a lot of Robusta to their blends? Hmmm… I think so, time for further research ;-).
I myself have never drunk coffee beans from the Liberica plant. They are also quite scarce and not widely available.
The coffee plant originated in Liberia. The coffee cherries and beans of this plant are much larger than the Arabica beans and have an uneven, non-symmetrical shape.
In terms of taste profile, the Liberica coffee beans have a fruity character with a lot of depth.
Around 1890, the Liberica plant was transported to other countries and has become very popular, especially in South-East Asia. Due to the mass mortality of the Arabica coffee variety, people started looking for an alternative.
The Liberica plant is a lot stronger than the Arabica plant, thrives well in hot climates, is resistant to pesticides and, like the Robusta plant, can grow at low altitudes.
Liberica is one of the rarest types of coffee beans, because there are only a handful of producers who grow this type. So it is also very difficult to get this coffee. Have you become really curious?
The Liberica species is widely cultivated in the following countries:
- The Philippines
Also discovered in Africa in the 20th century. The Excelsa coffee variety is a unique, resilient and productive variety. This species, like the Liberica, is also minimally traded and cultivated.
Unlike the other types of coffee beans, the Excelsa coffee beans grow more like a tree than a shrub. The Excelsa plant must therefore really grow into the air in order to achieve a good production.
The coffee beans of the Excelsa plant are lower in caffeine than the other coffee beans, but are still very resistant to diseases that are common in other coffees.
In addition to all the different coffees from all kinds of different countries, there are also various plant species that grow different types of coffee beans. All these coffee plants originate in Africa and have spread over the years to the rest of the world.
In addition to the popular Arabica and Robusta varieties, there are two more varieties that we do not know very much about. The Liberica and Excelsa are still not very popular, but they have certain properties that could be very interesting for the future of coffee, which is currently threatened by climate change.
Partly because of this, the area in which the Arabica coffee plant thrives best is rapidly being reduced and the future of the Arabica variety is extremely uncertain.
I expect that in the next ten years these unknown species will make their advance. Stay tuned.