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Types of Coffee Beans

Types of Coffee Beans

by Alex Brecher April 14, 2022 8 min read

How many types of coffee beans are there? What are the main types of coffee beans? Which are the best tasting coffee beans and the best coffee beans for espresso? And which type of coffee bean has the most caffeine?

There’s a lot to think about when choosing a coffee. While you may not always be thinking specifically of the types of coffee beans that are in the coffee that you drink, the coffee bean types affect almost every aspect you could think of when it comes to your coffee, including flavor, acidity, caffeine content, and environmental impact. 

If you want to know what the best types of coffee beans are and which coffee beans make the best espresso or cold brew, keep reading! Here is a guide to the coffee bean types and what you should know about them when making your choice for regular coffee, espresso, or cold brew.

The Three or Four Main Types of Coffee Beans

How many types of coffee beans are there? It depends on the way you count. There are three types. Or maybe there are four, if you are a traditionalist and a coffee lover. Or maybe there are infinitely many types! Here’s the scoop on how many types of coffee beans there are.

If you look at how many types of plants there are that produce coffee beans, there are three species. The two main types of coffee beans are Arabica and Robusta, which come from theCoffea arabica andCoffea robusta plants, respectively. Another plant species isCoffea liberica, which produces Liberica beans and includes the variant that produces Excelsa beans.

Arabica beans are the most common type of bean in the world. These coffee bean types account for more than half of the coffee produced. They come from the plant known asCoffea arabica, and you may also see the coffee they produce referred to as “Arabian coffee. It was originally grown in Ethiopia, but is now grown in Latin America, Africa, China, and some parts of southeast Asia.

Arabica beans are known for the pod in which they grow. It’s called a drupe, or cherry, and it usually has two seeds. These seeds are the coffee beans. The trees can grow to 30 or more feet, and it takes 7 years for them to mature fully. They are handpicked because it’s hard to otherwise pick them when they are perfectly ripe and at their highest quality. 

Next most common, after Arabica beans, are Robusta beans. TheCoffea robusta plant grows quickly, taking less than a year for berries to ripen. The plants are easier to grow in some ways because they are more resistant to pests and weeds. That means they can be grown with smaller amounts of pesticide and herbicide. The beans are oval-shaped.

Robusta beans are lower in sugar than Arabica beans. They’re native to parts of Africa and are now also grown in Jamaica, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Borneo. These types of coffee bean are the ones you are more likely to find in instant coffee.

There are two more types of coffee beans. They are less common. They are Liberica and Excelsa coffee beans. Together, they make up less than 10% of all coffee grown. Liberica coffee beans come fromCoffea liberica and they make Liberica coffee. Excelsa beans come fromCoffea excelsa, but the variant is now classified under Liberica. It is known asCoffea liberica var. dewevrei.

TheCoffea liberica plant is native to Africa, but it is now grown in the Philippines and Indonesia. The plant can grow 60 feet tall! You can imagine that harvesters need ladders when they are picking this type of coffee bean. This coffee bean type has one longer and one shorter side, which makes the tip look like a hook. 

Coffea excelsagrows tall, as well. Like Liberica beans, Excelsa coffee beans are asymmetrical. They are also grown in southeast Asia, and aren’t that common. However, they are more common than Liberica beans, which can come with a hefty price tag because they are so uncommon.

Types of Coffee Beans by Region

Going back to asking how many types of coffee beans there are, let’s take a different approach. If you want to look at the coffee bean types grown in different parts of the world, there are infinitely many! Factors such as the soil, climate, and altitude combine to ensure that coffee beans grown in different areas are unique from each other. Here are some examples of three different types of coffee beans that are all Arabica beans.

Chiapas: This region of Mexico is in the south, near the border with Guatemala. They’re grown at altitude in soil that is volcanic. The flavor is mild and delicate. You may detect sweet fruit and a nutty or earthy overtone.

Honduras: It’s no wonder that Honduras is also known for its coffee. These beans are packed with favorite flavors, such as cocoa, vanilla, and hazelnut. But taste carefully, because the favors aren’t overwhelming!

Nicaragua: A great way to describe these coffee beans is “balanced.” They have nutty flavors, but may also be reminiscent of cocoa or chocolate. With some careful sipping, you may even notice lemon or vanilla notes in each sip.

Alex’s Acid-Free Coffee is a blend of all three of these different beans. That means you can get the benefits of all of them at once, enjoying all of their different flavor profiles in a unique and fabulous blend.

Which Type of Coffee Bean Has the Most Caffeine?

When thinking about which type of coffee bean that has the most caffeine, the type of coffee bean with the highest caffeine content, on average, is Robusta. Arabica coffee can have one to two-thirds of the amount of caffeine compared to coffee produced from Robusta beans. Liberica and Excelsa coffee bean types have less caffeine in comparison to the other two beans. 

If you prefer certain types of coffee beans, but have a certain goal for caffeine consumption, you can increase or decrease the amount of caffeine you get from your brew. These are some examples.

  • To avoid caffeine, look for a decaf version of the blend you want.
  • To reduce caffeine content, make a weaker brew. Or, dilute your coffee by making iced coffee with ice, adding milk or almond milk to your coffee beverage, or using coffee in a recipe, such as mocha sauce for ice cream, so that your coffee is not as strong.
  • To increase caffeine content, make a stronger brew with more coffee and less water. If you are making a mixed coffee beverage, use less ice or milk than you normally would.
  • To get more caffeine without changing the way you brew your coffee, you can try pouring yourself a second cup! 

Acidity in Different Types of Beans

Acidity in coffee is definitely an issue for the many people who report symptoms of heartburn or acid reflux after drinking coffee. If you have gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, it’s important to avoid symptoms as much as possible. And if you think acidity in your diet is a trigger for symptoms, it’s best to limit the acid content of the coffee you drink.

Different types of coffee beans have different acid contents. While Robusta beans have less acid on average, the final acid content of the coffee you drink is also affected by how the beans are processed. Alex’s Acid-Free Coffee is carefully processed with convection methods so the beans never touch hot metal. As simple as this sounds, it is effective for reducing the chlorogenic acid and overall acid content of the types of coffee beans in this coffee.

What Are the Best Coffee Beans?

Sorry, but we can’t answer that for you! It depends on the person and what you want from your coffee. These are some considerations when thinking about what the best coffee beans are for you.

  • Flavor. If you like chocolate, nutty, vanilla, and fruity flavors, with a balance overall, you might enjoy Arabica beans from a few different places, all in a nice blend. These may be the best tasting coffee beans for many people.
  • Roast. A French roast is a slightly dark roast, leading to what some may call the best tasting coffee beans due to the development of chocolatey notes. 
  • Production methods. Are you interested in sustainability, fair trade coffee, and organic production and consumption? Some types of coffee beans match this profile. Others don’t. 
  • Caffeine content. The coffee experience is largely about the caffeine content for many people. You want the right amount! And if you like decaf, you may be interested in knowing that the decaffeination process uses the Swiss water method.
  • Freshness. Stale coffee beans are not the best tasting coffee beans. Fresh coffee is infinitely better.

Alex’s Acid-Free Coffee has a balance that may be recognized as coming from the best tasting coffee beans, and it’s roasted to a French roast. It is fair trade and organic, and comes in a decaffeinated version. It is always guaranteed to be fresh, and you may notice its freshness as you grind the whole beans or anytime you brew yourself a cup.

Which Coffee Beans Make the Best Espresso?

Which coffee beans make the best espresso is another question with a personal answer. It depends on you! Your choice for which coffee beans make the best espresso can consider the same factors that you considered when asking yourself, “What are the best coffee beans?” For espresso, though, getting the best tasting coffee beans may be even more important. 

To see why, let’s look at what espresso is. It is a type of coffee that comes from Italy. You make it by forcing near-boiling water through ground coffee beans. The result is a concentrated cup of coffee. There can be some foam on top, and some undissolved solid coffee at the bottom. You can add various amounts of milk and/or sugar or syrup to make drinks such as cappuccino, caffe Americano, and caffe latte.

The best tasting coffee beans likely make the best espresso. That’s because the coffee is so concentrated in this beverage. You’re going to taste the flavor of the coffee beans more in this beverage than in drinks such as regular coffee.

What Kinds of Coffee Beans Make the Best Cold Brew?

Cold brew coffee is made by steeping coffee grounds in water for 12 to 24 hours. You use coarsely ground beans. Because of this, you might want to choose whole beans and grind them yourself to get the exact degree of coarseness you want for the perfect cold brew. The best coffee beans for cold brew are fresh so they taste better.

Making cold brew coffee is a great way to always have your coffee available at a moment’s notice. It can be especially helpful if you’re not in the mood for a hot drink, such as in the summer or on a warm afternoon, or if you just prefer colder beverages. It can also be lower in acid content. That’s great if you’re worried about the acid in coffee due to a condition such as GERD.

You can use cold brew coffee as you would regular coffee. It’s just fine if you want to heat it up. Otherwise, you can blend it with ice and/or milk, and serve it with cream or sugar, or with flavoring syrup. 

The world of coffee is vast, so it’s no surprise that there is a lot to know about the different types of coffee beans. Beyond learning about Arabica and Robusta beans, there are all sorts of details about acidity, flavor profiles, and caffeine content. You can enjoy the journey by tasting all sorts of different coffees, or by using a trusted coffee, such as Alex’s Acid-Free Coffee, in different ways. That way, you can be sure of having balanced flavors, a lower pH than national averages, and the choice to have decaf coffee whenever you want.



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