The quality of any cup of coffee starts with the type of beans used and goes all the way to the manner in which it is cultivated and the way it is processed. Before exploring the types of coffee beans available, it is worth noting that beans from different parts of the world differ in flavour and the amount of caffeine that they contain, and this is sometimes used to classify them.
There are two main types of coffee beans, which are further grouped on the basis of the region where they are grown.
The Arabica coffee plant is older, and is thought to have originated from Ethiopia. It is more susceptible to diseases, but has the advantage of a superior flavour compared to the Robusta species. However, most of the beans available in the market today arise from Arabica coffee, and they account for three quarters of the total produce.
This variety contains the highest amount of caffeine, which is considered a natural insecticide. This is primarily why Robusta can thrive in environments where Arabica cannot. Robusta beans are relatively bitter and they have the aroma and flavour of burnt rubber.
Besides these two major groupings, coffee beans are further subdivided into the following categories:
This is a coffee bean that originates from Indonesia, and is named after the island of Java. The coffee has become so popular that the island is now synonymous with the coffee.
This is one of the finest coffee beans of the Arabica species and it originates from the Sumatra Island, Indonesia. The coffee is not named after this island but rather the Mandailing people who live to the northern part of Sumatra.
This is a more complex form of coffee beans which is traded through the Mocha Port in Yemen. Its complexity arises from the changing nature of its flavour, aroma and body. All these qualities intensify with darker roast levels, and this makes the coffee unique. It is a widely recognized coffee bean and a component of one of the most ancient coffee blends identified as Mocha Java.
Jamaican Blue Mountain
This coffee is cultivated around the Blue Mountain region in Jamaica. It is regarded as one of the most premium and expensive coffee types available, especially because of its limited production and besides, Japan had cornered a better part of the market years on, a reason why this coffee stands out in the region.
Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee beans lack bitterness, and are more popular for the mild flavour.
This variety is cultivated in Kona coffee farms, along the stretch of Hawaii Island. Most of the plantations and mills in this region are owned by families. The coffee is mild and clean, besides a nice finish and aftertaste. If you love intense coffees, therefore, the Hawaiian Kona may seem too simple and light for you.
This is a typical coffee bean harvested from the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro. It is a unique and relatively smaller bean and normally turns into one bean per cherry instead of the usual two. This single bean is very rare, and is said to produce a more concentrated flavour compared to other coffee beans. It is a bright form of coffee, which has hints of wine after processing.
It is another complex type of coffee that is native to the Harrar region in Ethiopia, recognized for its fruity flavour which is sometimes thought to be same as that of dry red wine.
Nicaraguan coffee was more popular in the 1800’s than what it is today. Disasters caused by civil wars and hurricanes have gradually degraded the quality and popularity of Nicaraguan coffee. Even so, this coffee is slowly making a comeback. It is wet-processed, and has hints vanilla despite the mild flavour.
The Kenyan coffee bean is classified according to size. It is grown in different highland regions within the country, where the Kenyan AA is bigger in diameter compared to the rest. It is believed that the bigger the bean size, the higher the quality.
In summary, there are various types of coffee beans, most of which are classified on the basis of the Geographical region where they are found. They all differ in flavour and the manner of processing. Selection of any one type of coffee mostly depends on personal preference.