Types of Coffee Beans: A Guide for Coffee Lovers 1

Types of Coffee Beans: A Guide for Coffee Lovers

If you’re a coffee lover, you know that not all beans are created equal. There are several types of coffee beans, each with its own unique characteristics and flavor profile. 

In this guide, we’ll explore the four main types of coffee beans: Arabica, Robusta, Liberica, and Excelsa, and how they affect the taste and quality of coffee.

Arabica Coffee Beans

Arabica is the most widely consumed type of coffee bean in the world, accounting for about 60-70% of global production. Arabica beans are known for their mild, sweet flavors, fruity tones, and high acidity. They also boast a delightful aroma that is a critical component of their allure. 

They predominantly grow in high altitude areas of Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Popular varieties include bourbon, typica, caturra, and geisha.

To brew and enjoy Arabica coffee, use a medium-fine grind, a medium-high water temperature, and a pour-over or drip method. The result will be a smooth, flavorful cup of coffee that’s perfect for any time of day.

Robusta Coffee Beans

Robusta is the second most popular and widely consumed type of coffee bean in the world, accounting for around 40% of the world’s coffee production. Robusta coffee beans are grown mostly in Africa and Indonesia, at lower altitudes and in warmer climates. 

The characteristics of Robusta coffee beans are strong, bitter, earthy, and high in caffeine. Some popular Robusta varieties include Conilon and Canephora.

If you’re a fan of espresso or Turkish coffee, Robusta beans are a great choice. They have a higher caffeine content than Arabica beans, which makes them perfect for a strong, bold cup of coffee.

What is the Difference Between Arabica and Robusta?

Arabica beans tend to have a softer, sweeter taste with tons of sugar, fruit, and berries. Their acidity is higher, with wine-like characteristics lending to their reputation for a well-balanced flavor. The beans themselves are oval-shaped and slightly larger than their Robusta counterparts. 

Arabica plants are more delicate, requiring specific growing conditions. They flourish in higher altitudes, between 800-2,200 meters, and prefer a temperature range of 15-24 degrees Celsius. Due to their high altitude habitat, Arabica beans take longer to mature, contributing to their complex flavors.

Robusta, on the other hand, has a stronger, harsher taste, with a grain-like overtone and nutty aftertaste. They are known to have twice the caffeine content of Arabica beans, which makes them taste more bitter. 

The beans are rounder, smaller and more robust, just like the plant itself. Robusta plants are hardy, resistant to pests and diseases, and can grow at lower altitudes and warmer temperatures. These beans mature quickly and yield more crop, leading to a more affordable production cost.

Despite the significant differences, both Arabica and Robusta have their unique appeal. Arabica’s delicate, nuanced flavors make it a favorite among gourmet coffee aficionados, while the strong, full-bodied nature of Robusta is preferred in blends, especially for espresso, due to its rich crema and caffeine kick. 

Liberica Coffee Beans

Liberica is a rare and exotic coffee bean that makes up a small fraction of the world’s coffee production. These beans offer an unusual blend of floral and woody notes with a hint of smokiness. They are primarily grown in Southeast Asia, particularly in the Philippines. Popular varieties include the Filipino barako and the rare kapeng alamid. 

To enjoy Liberica coffee in a traditional Filipino way, try brewing it with a coffee sock, which is a cloth filter that’s perfect for making a strong and aromatic cup of coffee.

Excelsa Coffee Beans

Excelsa is a sub-type of Liberica that is grown in Southeast Asia and Africa. Excelsa coffee beans have a complex flavor profile that’s fruity, tart, and low in caffeine. Some popular Excelsa varieties include Quillou and Charrieriana.

To create a unique flavor, try blending Excelsa beans with other types of coffee beans, such as Arabica or Robusta. The result will be a cup of coffee that’s both complex and delicious.


The world of coffee is as diverse as it is exciting. With four main types of coffee beans – arabica, robusta, liberica, and excelsa – each bringing its unique blend of flavors and qualities, the opportunities for taste exploration are boundless. Trying different varieties of coffee beans not only enhances your coffee knowledge but also offers the pleasure of discovering new tastes and experiences. So, why not embark on a coffee tasting adventure and share your feedback? 

Happy brewing!

Last Updated on May 28, 2023 by Cristina Vélez

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