Good coffee taste? It’s all about the beans

Good coffee taste? It’s all about the beans

There are four primary types of coffee beans responsible for high-quality coffee. They bring a balance of acidity, sweetness, and bitterness in any one sip.

The complex process to achieve that good quality coffee—it shouldn’t taste burnt, charred, or raw—always begins with good coffee beans.

Arabica (Coffee arabica), Robusta (Coffee caniphora), Liberica (Coffee liberica), and Excelsa (Coffee liberica) are the best coffee beans for consumption. These types of beans take on different flavors when they are harvested and processed; some become a low-yield type of coffee, others low in caffeine and a smoother taste, and others contain more caffeine than the rest for a stronger taste.

Most of it has to do with the regions these beans are grown.


It is the most common of the four primary types of coffee beans. Arabica beans have a sweeter, more delicate flavor and the coffee itself tends to be less acidic.

This coffee bean is low in caffeine and yields a smoother taste. Almost 80% of the coffee in the world is produced from these types of aromatic and delicious beans. China, for example, accounts for 1.3% of the world’s Arabica and is a growing influence in the world of coffee-producing nations. But there are smaller countries all over the world that produce enormous amounts of Arabica beans—Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Honduras, India, Mexico, Peru, Uganda, Guatemala, and Guatemala.

The Coffea arabica plant originated in Ethiopia. According to Wikipedia, the history of coffee dates back to 850 CE. It is more likely that it originated in the Kingdom of Sheba which was in Ethiopia and Yemen. (The word “coffee” entered the English language in 1582 borrowed from the  Ottoman Turkish kahve, in turn, borrowed from the Arabic qahwah (The word qahwah is sometimes alternatively traced to the Arabic quwwa (“power, energy”), or to Kaffa, a medieval kingdom in Ethiopia whence the plant was exported to Arabia). From this plant comes the Arabica coffee beans, the world’s most popular coffee type, equating to over 60% of cups drank. They have an extensive taste range that differs from sweet-soft to sharp-tangy. When unroasted, Arabica beans smell like blueberries. Their roasted smell is described as perfumey with notes of fruit and sugar tones.

But the best regions to grow Arabica beans are in tropical climates around the equator—some of the best coffee nowadays comes from South America and Africa. They need specific climate conditions to thrive, like high altitudes and mild temperatures. When they are grown on the volcanic soils of the mountainous regions, they turn out to be smooth and soft, with a rich, walnut-like flavor. Coffee made from arabica beans has an intense, intricate aroma that can be reminiscent of flowers, fruit, honey, chocolate, caramel, or toasted bread. Its caffeine content never exceeds 1.5 percent by weight.


The second most popular of the four primary types of coffee beans mentioned above is Robusta. These beans have a stronger, harsher, and more bitter taste, with grainy or rubbery overtones. Top-notch specialty Robusta coffee will usually taste as good as or better than low-end Arabica.

Robusta is grown exclusively in the Eastern Hemisphere, primarily in Africa and Indonesia but it’s also grown in Latin America. For example, Colombia only produces Arabica beans while Brazil produces both. Robusta has more caffeine compared to Arabica and carries a bitter taste which makes it an unpleasant drink. These beans are easier to tend to on the farm, have a higher yield, and are less sensitive to insects. (Because it’s so much easier to grow and harvest than Arabica beans, many farmers do tend to reap higher profits when they can sell Robusta.)

The robusta species of coffee beans make up the 30% difference in global coffee bean production.

Usually, most gourmet coffees are almost exclusively high-quality mild varieties of arabica coffee, though espresso is typically made from a blend of arabica and robusta beans.

Advantages of a coffee subscription service

It is important to know your coffee beans beyond the information you get from the bags on your nearest store shelves. Coffee subscriptions are a good service to delve deeper into a conscious culture emerging in the world around coffee. Look for beans that have a clear printed roast date on them. Knowing what you like will go a long way in helping you pick what you want.

As you’ve learned the differences between the two most popular coffee beans in the market, deciding on which coffee beans to buy won’t be so challenging. The most important piece of advice is to pick coffee beans based on your preferred taste. Some of us like the first cup to have a consistently delicious taste; others want a smooth taste that has a varying acidity level.

Knowing your beans is also important at the time to determine how much caffeine you want in your coffee. As you’ve learned today, there’s a difference between Arabica and Robusta, which primarily revolves around the amount of caffeine in them at the time of roasting.

As the day breaks and you sip your first cup of coffee, remember that the same way breakfast is the most important meal of the day, your coffee must also be the most important drink of the day!

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