Have you ever asked yourself what’s the best coffee beans? Coffee which has become an emblematic beverage is consumed all around the world. Nowadays there are different type of coffee ; being present in many cultures its preparation has varied accordingly.
From Irish coffee that contain whiskey to Chai Latte which contain spice like cinnamon and even coffee infused with cannabis. It is true that the taste and flavor of a coffee is determined by the right dosage of water and the way it brewed ( Espresso machine, aeropress, french press etc). However, another fundamental aspect that determine the greatness in your cup is the type of coffee beans used.
Where do coffee beans come from?
Before we see what’s the best coffee beans let us go to the origin; coffee is made from coffee beans which are roasted and grinded. The beans are the seeds of the Coffea plants and are in fact the pits found inside the red or purple fruits (also reffered as cherries). It is interesting to know that the coffee seeds are only called beans because of their resemblance to the real beans.
The average height of a coffee tree is 5 – 10m, and as it grows over years it produces lesser branches but more fruits and leaves. Coffea trees grow well in tropical climate which offer plenty of rain and adequate temperature but some plant type also need specific altitudes.
Hence, most of the coffee production for the world are done in regions like Africa, Asia and parts of South America and Central America. These regions are between the Tropic of cancer and Tropic of Capricorn; an equatorial zone known as the coffee belt.
What’s the best coffee beans? The different types of coffee beans
What’s the best coffee beans? Firstly there are four main types of coffee beans; Arabica, Robusta, Liberica and Excelsa (a variant of Liberica )
1. Arabica coffee beans
Arabica is the most popular coffee beans and make around 60% to 70% of world coffee production and is very popular in North America. This is because it is sweeter, have more delicate flavor, is less acidic and not much bitter.
The market of Arabica coffee is so consequent that it is considered as the economic pillar of the producing countries. Arabica coffee beans were first cultivated in Yemen and now they are grown in regions where there is high altitude and where rain is abundant. This is why a major part of Arabica beans are grown in Brazil where there are rainforests.
However Arabica coffea plants are very fragile; they are sensitive to their environmental conditions and demand a lot of attention like frequent prunning. This type of coffee plant is also vulnerable to diseases which make large scale growing very challenging and costly. These are the reasons why Arabica coffee are more expensive. However its high price do not hamper its popularity as it is still the type of coffee that is the most consumed around the world.
Coffee connoisseurs claim that Arabica is of higher quality as coffee beans produced in high altitude regions have better aroma, taste and flavor. A lot of gourmet coffee brands propose coffee from 100% Arabica beans providing a more intense experience.
2. Robusta coffee beans
The type of coffee beans most consumed after Arabica is Robusta and it is popular in Europe, Middle East and Africa. Compared to Arabica, Robusta coffee beans have much more caffeine and its plants are more resistant to pests and diseases ( caffeine act as a strong repellent). Moreover it can also be grown in different altitudes and support different climates. Most production of Robusta coffee are cultivated in the African and Indonesian regions.
As these characteristics make large scale production more easy and cheaper, some coffee bean growers prefer to grow Robusta to get higher profit. Robusta beans have a strong smell, an earthy taste and is more bitter. People consume it mainly for its high dose of caffeine rather than for its flavor and aroma.
Very often coffee producers use it as a filler. It is mixed with Arabica beans to prepare discounted instant coffees which reduce their production costs by 20 – 30%. However some craft coffee roasters do use single origin Robusta beans to produce high quality coffee . They usually have a subtle flavor of chocolate or rhum.
Liberica coffee beans are less common than Arabica and Robusta and is considered as a delicacy, they account for only 2% of world coffee consumption. As they grow in very specific climatic conditions it cannot be produce in large quantity and have a high production costs. The Liberica coffee has a wooden and smoky taste, moreover its aroma and flavor have fruits and flower notes.
Though Liberica coffee beans have strong and disctinct flavors, they have lower caffeine than Arabica and Robusta beans. If you asked people what’s the best coffee beans, those who like strong and bold flavor will say its Liberica. Due to it smoky taste sometimes it is also called liquid tobacco.
Liberica coffee beans are grown mostly in South Asia countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines. Many years ago these beans became very popular when a plant disease known as coffee rust destroyed almost all Arabica coffea plants around the world. As coffee was an important trading commodity at that times, governments and farmers tried to find out a substitute to Arabica, and hence Liberica was introduced.
The last type of coffee beans is called Excelsa which is in fact a derivative of the Liberica. Excelsa are grown mainly in South East Asia regions and is even scarcer than Liberica. The shapes of the Excelsa beans is close to the Liberica beans ; elongated ovals.
Its taste is rather unique as it is fruiter and a has a tart flavor, coffee connoisseur claim that it is like a mix of both light and dark roasts – all these factors make it a unique coffee with complex flavors. It is usually cultivated and consumed by enthusiast who live craft coffee beans.
Our thoughts on what’s the best coffee beans
We have seen the different types of coffee beans and discussed about their flavors, tastes and caffeine level. These will depend mainly on the altitude and climates in which they are cultivated. So what’s the best coffee beans?
Though many coffee lovers prone that 100% single-origin Arabica beans are the best, it may depend on the taste preference of the drinker. Some people see a great cup of coffee high in caffeine while having strong flavors. Others consider a coffee great when it is tinted with subtle fruit flavors and aromas like chocolate.
And for you what’s the best coffee beans? I hope that you enjoy this article, do not hesitate to share your point of view and experiences. We will be glad to hear from you!