There are two main varieties of coffee beans, Arabica and Robusta, with the Arabica bean making up three quarters of global bean sales.
Coffee Arabica: Arabica beans have a higher quality than that of the Robusta bean, and have around half the caffeine content. This species makes up about 70% of the world market for coffee and benefits from a higher value taste and aromatic properties. Due to being grown at higher altitudes it makes mechanical harvesting impossible. The beans at these elevations are hand picked resulting in a better quality of selection with less under/over ripe beans being selected.
Coffee Robusta: These beans make up around 27% of the global market and are a lower grade of bean that is typically grown at lower elevations making them easier to grow and maintain. Robusta beans have more of an astringent flavour and contain a higher amount of caffeine. Being cheaper to produce but with a lower taste profile, this coffee is often sold for use in instant coffee.
There are over 60 different varieties of coffee with varying flavours and caffeine levels, however many are non-existent in the global export market. However, what all types of coffee have in common is that all are produced from the pits of coffee cherries, the fruits borne by trees in the genus coffea (coffee beans are technically seeds of these trees, not beans). Coffee cherries are harvested from coffee trees, the pits are removed and processed, producing green coffee beans. These are then roasted, ground, and brewed.
What can vary Coffee flavours:
There are five main factors that can vary the way coffee can taste as an end product.
Bean Variety: As mentioned previously there are two main bean varieties used in the global export market. The variety of bean can greatly impact on the cups overall final flavour.
Processing Method: There are two main methods for processing green coffee, washed and unwashed. Washed coffees remove the cherry before the bean is left to dry, while unwashed coffees have their beans removed from the cherries after drying. Unwashed coffees often have richer, earthier flavours, while washed coffees are often smoother and fruitier.
Geographic Region: coffee flavours vary greatly with geography, climate, and soil composition. Ethiopian coffees tend to be rich, full-bodied, and wine-like, Hawaiian coffees like Kona tend to be more acidic (flavour term, not pH), and Latin American coffees tend to be more medium bodied, fruity, and floral.
Roasting: Roasting is a complex process that can produce a huge range of flavours and caffeine content. In fact it’s a whole new topic in itself. You can find out more about the roasting process here: Coffee Roast Guide.
Brewing Method: This is where coffee finally hits your kitchen table and where you can decide how you like it made. The various methods include French Press, Moka Pot, Drop Filter or Espresso and will greatly change the way your coffee tastes in the cup.
It’s worth mentioning here that some of our coffees are best made using certain brewing methods due to their roast type and grind type. Look out for this product information in our Shop.
Facts about coffee:
• There are around 70 coffee producing countries around the world with Brazil being the largest, which produces around 28 percent of the total world output. • Contrary to what some people believe, coffee does not grow as a bean but as a red cherry carrying two beans. • Black Coffee (no milk, no sugar) does not contain any calories. • A good coffee tree can produce up to 1 kg of raw coffee per year but needs temperatures between 17º and 23º as well as good rainfall and good soil conditions • It takes 5 years for a coffee tree to reach maturity. • The first coffee house opened in Venice in 1683.