Varieties of Coffee Beans: How to Choose the Right Beans for You. Many people drink coffee every day. Most of them will tell you that they can’t live without it and that their day starts only with a cup of coffee. However, not so many of us know coffee that much. In fact, it takes time and effort to build even the basic knowledge about coffee. Though, if you love this beverage, learning more about it should be a treat for you. Everything about coffee is so intriguing and complex. For one, there are many different brewing methods any person can use at home to make various types of coffee.
Though, learning about brewing methods is quite easy compared to learning about the variety of coffee beans on the market and the nuances of their production.
Type: Arabica vs. Robusta
Overall, there are two main types of coffee beans. These are Arabica and Robusta. Each type has its own specifics and beats brewing methods. Each of those types is high-quality beans that are widely used around the world. Though, as far as popularity goes, Arabica will be the most traditional choice in most countries. It doesn’t mean that Arabica is necessarily better than Robusta, though it does come with a large variety of flavors.
The truth is, only a few regions in the world have the right conditions to grow Robusta beans. These regions are mainly in Western Africa (Congo and Benin) and East Asia (Indonesia and India). Robusta has a higher percentage of caffeine. This is why these beans are much preferred for espresso. On the contrary, Arabica has less caffeine in it, though it has a wider taste palate. Thus, when choosing the type of beans for yourself, pick one for the specific purpose. All espresso lovers will appreciate good Robusta. Though, if you like filter coffee or beverages on coffee, Arabica can work better.
In addition, there are Liberica beans. However, those are not as high-quality as the two types we have discussed above. Liberica is mainly used for coffee blends and hardly ever for coffee brews.
Knowing the region where your coffee beans come from is crucial. Each region has its own specifics and flavors of the beans. Overall, there are three main coffee regions in the world. These are East Asia, Africa, and South America. Each of these regions produces unique coffee.
For instance, coffee from Africa will most likely have a pleasant balance of acidity and bitterness. For that reason, beans from Ethiopia or Kenya are often used in most coffee shops across the world. Those beans are rich with flavor, yet they don’t have a too sharp or extreme taste.
Beans from South America are often full of nuanced flavors. They make a full-body rich flavor with many aftertaste notes. For instance, Guatemala coffee beans will have a chocolate aftertaste with nice, almost sweet notes. Yet, it also has a nice acidity to it, more like an orange than a lime.
East Asia coffee beans have a deep, unique flavor. Honestly, they are nothing like the rest of the world’s coffee beans. It is all due to the rare aging and storing methods in nature that enrich these beans with rare taste qualities. Recently, coffee from India and Indonesia started gaining significant recognition in the market.
Now, once you have decided on the type and region of your coffee, you can dive into learning more about their roasting processes. Now, there are three main roasting stages – light, medium, and dark. Each of these stages releases complete unique flavors in coffee beans.
Light roast helps maintain the original taste of the coffee beans. This roast will be higher in acidity and keep a wide range of flavors intact. It works perfectly for cold brew or pour-over. Although this roast is the highest in caffeine content, it doesn’t work for espresso shots. If you don’t like the sour taste in your coffee, you should go with medium. It will deliver full-body coffee with a nice balance of bitterness and acidity.
Dark roast, though, will have a bitter, strong taste and light smoky aftertaste. It is often used for espresso since the lack of natural oils in the dark roasted beans guarantees the fastest extraction.
Last but not least, always consider the method of brewing before you choose your beans. The way you usually make your coffee has a large effect on those beans. For instance, if you brew coffee in a Moka pot, your coffee will have strong, bold flavors. Most likely, only one note will dominate. It will be either acidic or rather bitter, and nothing in between.
However, if you choose a softer brewing method, like a French Press or Chemex, you can release much more flavor in your beans. Though, to do so, you need to know which beans match with what method.
Keep in mind that the grind of your beans also plays a large role here. Some methods, like espresso machines, need only very finely ground coffee. Others, such as all alternative methods, can do well with the coarse grind.