Would it be a good guess that you have heard of Arabica coffee before, right? And maybe Robusta too?
More than three-quarters of the beans sold worldwide today are Arabica, and most of the remaining amount is Robusta. But there is also a third main type: the Liberica coffee bean.
The differences can be very technical and scientific between the three coffee beans, but we have created a brief overview comparison to give you a little more insight and get you started on the subject:
- Accounts for over 60% of the world’s coffee production; - Grown at high altitudes, in areas that receive steady rainfall and have a plentiful amount of shade; - Arabica trees are generally easy to care for as they are relatively small and easy to prune and harvester; - Higher quality beans referred to as gourmet coffee; - Pleasing sweet flavours, with chocolate, nuts, and caramel tones, also presenting hints of fruit and berries; - Depending on its roast, there will be a pleasant acidity, and a little bitterness. - Has more than 40 varieties that are usually named after the country or region they come from, to name a few: Blue Mountain, Bourbon, Java, Sidamo and Yirgacheffe.
Robusta - Comes second to Arabica as the world’s most produced coffee; - Lower quality grade than Arabica; - Typically grown at lower elevations; - Easier to grow and maintain, more disease resistant and produce a higher yield;
- Known for its strong and often harsh astringent flavour profile, also described to have a peanutty aftertaste;
- Has extremely high levels of caffeine, almost double the amount of Arabica; - Some of the main varieties include: Kopi Luwak, Timor hybrid, Kapéng Alamid and Icatu.
Liberica* - Accounting for just around 5% of the world’s coffee consumption, it is a rare type of bean that is often unheard of; - Harder to come by, but with an important place in the world’s coffee history: when coffee rust decimated over 90% of the world’s Arabica stock in 1980, farmers and government agents scrambling to find a solution turned to the Liberica plant;
- Grown in very specific climates with production being far too scarce to scale on a global marketplace;
- Has come close to extinction many times in the past, which is why its quantities are limited and price tag expensive;
- Beans are larger than the others, often asymmetrical, and they’re the only coffee bean in the world that has such an irregular shape; - Said to have a unique aroma of floral and fruity notes and a full body that possesses a smoky taste with hints of dark chocolate, ripe berry and spice, with many reports that it does not even taste like coffee at all, being too “woody”;
*Excelsa - Has been recently re-classified as a member of the Liberica family, but with so many differences some members of the coffee community still think of it as a separate species;
- Grows on large 20-30 ft trees like Liberica at similar altitudes and has a similar almond-like shape; - Largely used in blends in order to give the coffee an extra boost of flavour and complexity, better affecting the middle and back palate;
- Said to boast a tart and fruity body, reminiscent of a light roast, that also somehow has dark, roasty notes; - Frequently sought out by coffee enthusiasts due to its unique flavour profile .
Ok, these are four different beans but technically only three types!
Isn't it fascinating to learn about coffee species and their history?