In this article, we will introduce and identify characteristics of the four main types of coffee beans currently in commercial circulation: Arabica, Robusta, and the less common Liberica and Excelsa coffee beans.
The 4 Main Types of Coffee Beans Defined
Arabica (Coffea arabica)
You’re probably already familiar with this commonly produced coffee bean; it accounts for over 60% of the world’s coffee production. Arabica beans are grown at high altitudes, in areas that receive steady rainfall and have a plentiful amount of shade. Arabica trees are generally easy to care for as they are relatively small and easy to prune—they are normally no taller than 6′; their small stature also makes harvesting simpler.
Arabica is the most delicate of the 4 . It is easily influenced by its environment and prone to disease. It must be farmed with great care. When Arabica plants are grown in climates where they do not naturally thrive, it can take double the effort to keep them healthy. Since it is one of the more popular beans, Arabica is often grown in large quantities (called “monoculture”)—however, this has the potential for disaster. Growing the disease-prone Arabica plants in large groups makes the trees more susceptible to a massive outbreak of disease, such as blight, that will inevitably contaminate the entire crop. If one Arabica plant goes, there’s a solid chance a large portion of the crop is going with it.
Higher quality Arabica beans have a bright body, possess a satisfying amount of acidity, and tend to have a multi-layered intricacy of flavors and aromas; Arabica coffees can be best sampled on the front palate (where sweetness and salinity are most apparent). For best results when brewing this coffee at home, look for Arabica coffee that has a full body and lower acidity.
Note that the quality of the Arabica bean diminishes when served cold or with creamer. It is best served hot, perhaps brewed with the pour-over or drip coffee technique.