Types of Coffee Beans and Characteristics of Each

Types of Coffee Beans
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Learning about the different types of coffee beans and their characteristics will help you on your journey of preparing the perfect cup of java. The best part of a steaming cup of coffee is the beans that go into making it, so learn all about the different sorts, qualities, structures, and shapes of coffee beans.

The satisfaction of enjoying a fine espresso at a bar has its origins in the coffee beans, which travel a considerable distance before being ground. The small berries needed to create coffee, as any coffee connoisseur knows, are what give it its distinctive flavor and aroma.

This is why we’ve decided to take you on a tour of these beautiful fruits of the Coffea plant, during which you’ll learn about their types, qualities, structure, shape, and everything else.

How is the coffee bean obtained?

Harvesting the berries is the first stage, and it’s already a sensitive one: green berries shouldn’t be harvested because they’re still immature.

To remove the pulp from the stone, the drupes are submerged in water, which reveals the coffee beans, which are still green and quite little at this point. Roasting causes them to take on their distinctive brown color and grow in size.

The coffee bean: structure and shape

Drupes, a type of red berry that resembles a cherry, are produced by the coffee plant and are made up of several layers.

  • exocarp, the berry’s outer skin
  • mesocarp. also referred to as the pulp
  • the first layer of the bean, the parchment
  • The second layer of the berry is called silver skin.

We finally get to the bean at the bottom of all these layers, like a jewel hidden in a treasure chest.

Drupes are almost always the same in structure, although the colors and shapes of the beans vary depending on the type. There is a noticeable difference between the Robusta and Arabica beans, for example. Neither is as dark as the finest Kopi Luwak kind.

Types of Coffee Beans and Their Characteristics

The world is home to roughly 60 different varieties of coffee plant, but only about twenty of these yield fruit suitable for making coffee. Climate and temperature influence the drupes’ properties, therefore the tropical belt is where the majority of the crop is grown.

Some of the world’s largest coffee-producing countries are Brazil, Guatemala, and Colombia. Of the many species of coffee, only two are effectively the most suitable for use in coffee blends: Arabica and Robusta.

The 4 Main Types of Coffee Beans Defined

Arabica Coffee Beans – The Most Produced Bean

Nearly two-thirds of all the world’s coffee is made from Arabica coffee beans, which are prized for their intense but sweet flavor. A 100% Arabica coffee will have a low caffeine concentration, unique fruity overtones, and a refined aftertaste that is a great pleasure for the tongue..

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It’s no secret that Arabica beans are the most popular and well-known sort of coffee bean. They’re also believed to be of higher quality than other varieties. In reality, Arabica varieties account for more than 60% of all coffee beans produced worldwide.

Best growing conditions require high altitudes with a continuous rainfall and a lot of shade for these beans.

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The most popular type of coffee in North America is Arabica, as was previously stated. This is due to the fact that the coffee itself has a less acidic flavor and has a sweeter, more delicate flavor. Generally, Arabica beans are grown at altitudes greater than 6,000 feet, preferably where there is a lot of rain. For the record, Brazil is the world’s leading exporter of Arabica beans. As for the plants, they’re sensitive and necessitate regular pruning and monitoring of their surroundings for any changes. The Coffee Arabica species is highly susceptible to disease, making large-scale growing extremely difficult. For many coffee enthusiasts throughout the world, this means paying a higher price for the bean because it has a softer, sweeter flavor.

As an aside, it’s worth noting that the flavor of the popular yet delicate bean is rumored to be lessened a bit when it is chilled or combined with milk or cream. 

What does Arabica taste like?

Its exquisite flavor is a big part of why it’s so popular. Slight caramel, nut, and chocolate notes may appear in the flavor profile. A fruitier flavor characteristic can be found in some blends, with flavors of berries.

Interested in single origin coffee, see our guide to Best Types of Coffee Beans in the World by Country

The acidity of a coffee is mostly determined by the growing conditions, however Arabica is often preferred by coffee lovers because of its mild acidity.

Where does Arabica come from?

It is said that Arabica, often referred to as coffee arabica or Arabian coffee, was the first type of coffee to be domestically grown. Ethiopian history dates this to the 11th century.

High-quality Arabica coffee is now mostly farmed in Africa and South/Central America.

Robusta – The Caffeine Queen

When compared to Arabica beans, Robusta coffee beans produce a stronger and more bitter cup of coffee; it also has nearly double the amount of caffeine. Those who consume Robusta coffee will notice a noticeable creaminess and a substantial body, qualities that will provide them an energy boost.

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The second most common coffee bean in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa is Robusta. Known for its powerful and sometimes harsh flavor, this bean’s name does it right. Caffeine content in Robusta coffees is much higher than in Arabica coffees, making it a more resilient species.

Coffee functions as a natural bug deterrent due of its caffeine content. Aside from being able to thrive at any height or climate, the coffee caniphora species is also extremely adaptable to its surroundings.

Robusta is a lesser-known variety of coffee because of its bad reputation as a bean that makes coffee taste burnt or rubbery. Many farmers, on the other hand, prefer selling Robusta beans since they are considerably easier to cultivate and harvest than Arabica beans.

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It is possible that Robusta may be utilized in low-cost products like instant coffees and as a filler in dark roasts. A roaster can save up to 20% on raw bean costs by employing 3 parts Arabica to 1 part Robusta in each batch. This may seem like a trade-off between product quality and profit, as it is.

However, wonderful, high-quality Robusta coffees can be found in grocery stores on occasion. Craft, small-batch roasters typically use single-origin coffees for their creations. Chocolate and rum notes can be found in the greatest Robusta coffee beans, but they are not always easy to come across. Finally, if your primary goal is to get enough caffeine each day, you’re better off sticking to a typical cup of Robusta and sweetening it up with some cream and sugar.

What does Robusta taste like?

Robusta, on the other hand, has a stronger, more bitter flavor than Arabica. Aftertastes of peanutty flavor have also been reported. There will be a lot of chocolate and rum aromas in many of these beans.

People who want a particularly strong, dark, and robust cup of coffee may prefer Robusta over Arabica because of its high caffeine content.

Where does Robusta come from?

More often than not, Robusta can be found growing between 0 and 800 meters above sea level. There isn’t enough data to establish exactly when the Robusta plant was discovered.

However, researchers have discovered that it was brought to Vietnam by French colonists in the late 1800s. It is grown mostly in Indonesia and Africa today.

Excelsa Coffee Beans

The Excelsa bean’s flavor is substantially different from that of Liberica coffee, despite its recent classification as a part of the Liberica family.

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It is technically a Liberica, however Excelsa is a unique and distinct species of Liberica. Excelsa, like Liberica, is largely grown in Southeast Asia and contributes only a small portion of total coffee production worldwide. Excelsa does feature a tangy, fruitier flavor and is noted for showcasing attributes of both light and dark roast coffees to create a unique profile that is commonly sought for by coffee connoisseurs.

Liberica Coffee Beans

The Liberica bean is one of the most hardest varieties of coffee bean. Unlike other beans, this one has a unique irregular shape and is the only one known to be that huge.

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It’s a treat to come across Liberica coffee beans. They’re grown in extremely specialized regions with production being far too limited for farmers to scale their businesses to properly serve a worldwide clientele. It’s still a pleasant surprise that the beans are there. A “woody” flavor and fruity aroma are among the common descriptions of this coffee by those who have tried it.

Liberica coffee was hugely popular at one point in time. A disease known as “coffee rust” wiped out nearly all of the world’s Arabica plants by the end of the nineteenth century. Farmers and government agencies went out to develop viable substitutes for coffee because it was such a large commodity even at that stage.

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First to harvest and market Liberica at a significant volume, the Philippines’ economy grew immensely as a result. A few years after this, the Philippines declared independence from the United States. US sanctions and supply cuts to the country resulted as a result. As a result, the Liberica coffee bean was doomed to extinction in the global market because no other country could match the Philippines’ production levels.

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What does Liberica taste like?

Liberica produces the largest beans of any coffee plant kind. There is no other flavor like it, and it has been described as having a smokey, nutty, flowery, and spiced undertone.

It’s a favorite because of its velvety finish and lingering chocolate flavor.

Where does Liberica come from?

Late in the 19th century, Liberica was introduced to Batangas, a Philippine province. After the Arabica plants were decimated by the coffee rust disease, it was their job to bring the country’s production back to life.

Liberica is still grown in Batangas, Cavite, Central & East Java, West Africa, and Malaysia nowadays.

Specialty Types of Coffee Beans

Outside of the four major types of coffee beans discussed earlier, below are some additional bean types you may come across.

Kopi Luwak

Famous as the “most expensive coffee in the world,” Kopi Luwak has a special quality due to its production method: the beans come from berries that have been partially digested by the civet. Because this coffee has been through its gut, it has a fantastic flavor and a chocolatey aftertaste, making it appear to be extremely sweet and aromatic. What is a typical price, expect to pay $70+ for a single cup!

Jackson Beans

Burundi and Rwanda produce Jackson coffee beans, which have a flavor similar to Bourbon. Beans of this caliber have a subtle acidic flavor, which makes for an excellent cup of espresso every time.

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Bourbon Beans

This coffee bean variety was developed by French monks, and it has a fruity flavor with a caramel undertone. Despite the trees’ susceptibility to various diseases, Bourbon beans are very popular in the Americas and throughout Africa, where they produce more beans per tree than any other type of coffee bean tree. It is also the ancestor of a wide variety of coffee beans currently on the market.

Catimor Beans

When two different types of coffee beans are crossed, the end product can have an off-putting sour flavor, however this can be mitigated to some extent through the processing of the beans. El Salvador, Nicaragua, and India are the primary sources of these strains.

Geisha Beans

A cup of award-winning coffee made from Geisha beans is silky in the mouth and full of taste. In recent years, more awards have been given to this kind of coffee than to any other brand of coffee beans available.

Jamaican Blue Mountain Beans

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This is the best Jamaican coffee that I’ve ever had. If you look for the JBM strain, you’ll always get a high-quality cup of coffee that you’ll like, as it was one of the first coffees imported to the New World. The flavor profile of this coffee is somewhat acidic, light, and well-balanced.

Maracatu Beans

The Maracatu bean, a mix between Caturra and Maragogype coffees, is particularly large and is grown at higher elevations in Central America. These coffee berries produce a type of bean that is highly tart and with a fruity flavor.

Mocca (Mokha) Beans

Small coffee berries with a type of bean that produces a slight chocolate-chip-flavor. These coffee bean types are already being grown in Yemen and Hawaii.

Mundo Novo Beans

This is a high-yielding hybrid coffee bean that is also disease resistant. The flavor is perfect if you utilize specially formulated soil and a lot of fertilizer. In addition, there are numerous sub-varieties, each with its own unique characteristics.

Processing coffee: the Real Taste Difference

It doesn’t matter which coffee beans are used in a blend; it’s the way the fruits are processed that makes all the difference. Each single-origin bean undergoes a unique roasting procedure at Caffè Aiello before being blended, enhancing the bean’s unique flavor profile. Discover how the Caffè Aiello mixes are made with care, attention, and a great enthusiasm.

Wet and dry processing are two of the most common methods of processing coffee beans, and they differ in how the pulp of the coffee cherry is handled.

Coffee cherries are normally dried by either leaving them out in the sun or by utilizing equipment that use heat to dry them off after they have been rinsed. The fermentation that occurs while the cherry pulp is drying around the bean gives the coffee its distinct flavor.

It is possible to use a machine to remove the outer layers of coffee beans after they have been dried, Coffee beans can also be semi-washed, which entails removing the outer shell of a cherry and then drying the pulp around the coffee beans. This is a very common processing procedure. It is possible to moisten the pulp before to hulling.

Wet processing allows the exposed fruit to be placed in tanks to ferment. During this process, bacteria and enzymes are used to remove the coffee pulp from around the coffee beans coffee pulp. As a general rule, wet-processed coffees have a delicate acidity, whereas dry-processed coffees are thought to have a richer mouthfeel and more nuanced flavor characteristics.

A third type of processing that is gaining popularity is Semi-washed. It uses wet and dry processing to attempt to achieve the best of both worlds.

To remove the outer layers that have formed around the coffee beans, the beans are rinsed, dried, and then milled.


There are many different types of coffee beans and the characteristics of each differ greatly. Some are mild, some are bold, some are light, and some are robust. My suggestion is to experiment with different kinds to find the perfect match for your taste pallet. Let us know some of your favorites in the comments below.