Finding the best beans for a perfect cup of coffee is not an easy task. Many factors come into play – from personal preference to brewing technique. This guide takes a look at the types of beans, their flavors, and tips for choosing, storing and grinding the right one for you.
Arabica and Robusta are the two main types of coffee beans. Arabica is usually preferred as it has a more complex flavor. Factors like growing conditions, variety, species, process and roast affect its flavor. It is important to recognize these nuances when selecting your beans.
When buying coffee beans, read product descriptions but remember taste is subjective. Experiment until you find your flavor profile. The fresher the bean, the better your cup of coffee will be. Opt for fresh roasted or freshly ground beans for robust flavor.
Types of Coffee Beans
Coffee-lovers everywhere have many choices! From Robusta to Arabica, Liberica and more – different beans bring unique flavours, scents and experiences. Let's take a look at these different types of coffee beans and what they offer!
Arabica beans are the most popular coffee, making up around 75% of coffee production. They're mainly grown in Latin America, Ethiopia and Brazil.
Arabica coffees have a sweet, floral flavor. The complexity changes due to how they were grown and processed, plus regional characteristics. Caffeine content is 1.5-1.7%, while Robusta is 3%.
There are different kinds of Arabica beans: Typica, Bourbon, Maragogype and Caturra. They're more expensive than Robusta, since they take longer to mature (7-9 months) and need more laborious harvesting methods. Robusta plants are shorter (up to 3 meters) so they can be harvested mechanically, with a lower yield.
Robusta beans are grown in lower altitudes and are known for their higher caffeine content. They have a strong taste and thick skin, making them less prone to breakage during processing. Plus, they produce more fruit than Arabica beans.
Robusta coffees are earthy with a slightly higher acidity and bitterness. They are often blended with Arabica for espresso drinks, as the crema provides a unique mouth-feel. This type of bean is also used in instant coffee, due to its easy and fast processing.
However, Robusta beans can be overpowering if brewed alone. As a result, they usually make up 10-20% of an espresso blend. But, if you look hard enough, you can find 100% pure Robusta coffees!
Liberica coffee beans, or Liberian coffee, is the third most popular coffee in the world. It's not as popular as arabica or robusta. But it has unique flavors. It grows better in hotter and humid climates. Furthermore, it is resistant to diseases and pests.
Liberica beans are large and have an irregular shape. This makes them hard to roast evenly. The taste is strong and syrupy. With fruity notes of chocolate-covered cherries and dates, there is a touch of smokiness and hints of honeydew and berries.
Unlike other coffees, brewing Liberica too fast will make it sweet. So best to take your time when making it. This bean offers a distinctive experience for those looking for something new in their cup of joe!
Excelsa beans are rare, so you may struggle to locate them in regular stores or coffee shops. But they are worth seeking out if you desire a unique flavor and aroma. Excelsa beans have a sweet, mild flavor with fruity overtones. Therefore, they make a great addition to your morning cuppa.
These beans come from the coffea liberica plant, which is grown in Southeast Asia. This species is believed to be the source of all other coffee plants!
Excelsa can be roasted to various degrees. If lightly roasted, it makes a tea-like drink called Liberica Lighter Roast (LLR). LLR has no acidity or bitterness and has a fruity flavor like raspberry or strawberry jam, plus herbal notes. If roasted at higher temperatures, it gives off woody characteristics similar to Robusta beans, with light acidity like Arabica beans like Java or Brazilian Santos. Whatever roast you pick, you can enjoy discovering a range of aromas from warm caramel to apple and dark chocolate.
Choose your coffee beans wisely! Roasting is a process of heating beans slowly to unleash flavors and aromas. Each roasting level will bring out different flavors and aromas. Let's look at the different roast levels and their flavors:
- Light Roast – Light-bodied, with a light acidity and light caramel sweetness.
- Medium Roast – Medium-bodied, with a balanced acidity and a smooth, nutty flavor.
- Dark Roast – Full-bodied, with a smoky and bitter flavor, and a hint of chocolate.
Light roast coffee beans, also known as “lightly roasted” or “cinnamon roast“, have a light brown hue and no oil on their surface. This roast releases a mild flavor and contains more caffeine than darker roasts. When brewed, it has a more subtle, delicate taste than other roasting levels. Coffee lovers may find this type particularly enjoyable since it preserves the natural flavors of the beans best.
This roast is great for coffees which are naturally sweet and fruity. It also makes an exceptional espresso blend or shot. It works best with lighter-bodied milks, like skim or almond milk. Not so much with a creamy full-fat latte.
Names for light roasted beans include Cinnamon Roast, Light City Roast, Half City Roast and New England Roast levels. Such names may differ from region to region, so it's wise to know what you're looking for when ordering!
Medium roast coffee is a hit for a number of reasons. It has an amazing flavor: strong, yet not overpowering. The beans are heated to temperatures from 415 to 437 degrees Fahrenheit, bringing out the unique notes in the bean and keeping some of its original character. You may notice an oily sheen on the outside of the beans. Many “breakfast” blends are medium roasts, like Breakfast Blend or House Blend.
Types of medium roasts include:
- Full City
Dark roasts are known for their dark brown beans, oily surface, and a bitter taste. Types of dark roast coffee include the Dark Italian Roast, French Roast, New Orleans Roast, Viennese Roast, and Espresso Roast. This type of coffee is less acidic.
The process of roasting involves increasing time and temperature. As air passes through the roaster and heats the bean, its surface turns black and oils are released. The acidity found in light roasted coffees is burned off resulting in the bitter taste. Furthermore, dark roast coffees have lower acid content than light roasts. Thus, many people prefer dark roasts.
Each coffee house has their own preferences for how to roast coffee beans. However, dark roasted coffees bring out strong flavors for an intensely flavorful cup of Joe. Adding sugar or cream intensifies these flavors.
Brewing method is essential when picking the top coffee beans. Flavors, aromas and body in coffee can differ depending on brewing approach. Pour over, French press, and espresso are examples of some methods. Each has its own benefits and will bring out different characteristics in the coffee.
Let's take a closer look at these brewing methods to discover the best type of coffee beans!
The French press, also called the cafetière or press pot, is a popular type of coffee maker. It was created by Milanese designer Attilio Calimani in 1929. It's a single-serving coffee maker that imitates the pour-over brewing method. It has a heatproof beaker, a plunger and a filter screen. Hot water pushes through coarsely ground coffee beans, giving you a strong and flavorful cup of coffee.
To make coffee with a French press, follow these steps:
- Grind the beans to medium coarseness. Use fresh beans. Put two heaping tablespoons (7g) for each cup of water.
- Boil the needed amount of water on the stove or in an electric kettle.
- Pour the heated water into the carafe. Then add the grounds. Stir gently and make sure all are wetted.
- Place the plunger lid on top and let steep for 4 minutes.
- Press down slowly until you reach the bottom of the carafe.
- Serve or store in another vessel if there's too much.
Pour-over brewing has become popular lately. You just need a filter and hot water to extract the flavor from coffee beans into the cup. This gives you control of water temperature and flow rate. It's ideal for home coffee lovers who don't want to invest in an espresso machine.
When selecting coffee beans, consider origin and roast profile. Lighter roast coffees are well-suited for pour over. Medium or dark roast coffees offer more smoothness and body due to their lower acidity. Your preference matters most – but if you're looking to experiment with different origins, pour over is a great start!
Cold brew coffee is a slow-brewed beverage made with cold water. It's full-flavored and bold, but without the bitterness. It's become popular in specialty coffee shops.
Any type of coffee bean can be used, but coarser grinds are best for a balanced taste. Darker roasts are richer, and lighter roasts are more acidic.
For cold brew, use equal amounts of water and coffee grounds. Let it steep for 8 or 12 hours, then filter out the grounds with a fine sieve or cheesecloth. A French press can be used too.
Enjoy cold or warm, anytime!
Espresso is a unique type of coffee, famous for its intense flavor. To make it, you need finely-ground coffee beans and an espresso maker. This method uses more coffee per ounce than any other brewing method. The best beans to use are dark roast, as they add flavor complexity. The grind should be slightly finer than for drip coffee. You should use 18-20 grams of ground coffee per shot (2 ounces).
Espresso should be brewed at 9-10 atmospheres of pressure, with water at 190-205°F (87-96°C). For the perfect cup, pull shots between 25-30 seconds, allowing for 40ml (1.3 ounces) of concentrated beverage.
Are you looking for the tastiest coffee beans? Your decision depends on the flavor you're aiming for. Light, medium and dark roasts offer different tastes. Blends, roasters and types of beans also have their own distinct flavors. Try a few out and find the one that suits you. Or, use this guide to pick a new brew the next time you're feeling adventurous.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are the best type of coffee beans?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question as it largely depends on personal taste preferences. Some popular options include Arabica, Robusta, and Colombian beans. It's best to try different types and find the one that suits you best.
2. What is the difference between Arabica and Robusta beans?
Arabica beans are considered higher quality and have a sweeter, more delicate flavor. Robusta beans, on the other hand, have a stronger and more bitter taste. They also have a higher caffeine content.
3. Can I mix different types of coffee beans?
Absolutely! Experimenting with different combinations of beans can lead to unique and delicious blends. Just keep in mind that the flavor will depend on the ratio of each type of bean.
4. Should I choose whole bean or ground coffee?
Whole bean coffee is generally considered to be fresher as it has not yet been exposed to the air. It also allows you to grind the beans to your desired consistency. However, if convenience is a priority, pre-ground coffee can be a good option.
5. How should I store my coffee beans?
It's important to store your coffee beans in an airtight container away from heat, light, and moisture. This will help to preserve freshness and flavor.
6. Are expensive coffee beans worth the price?
While expensive coffee beans may offer a more unique and high-quality flavor profile, it ultimately comes down to personal preference. Some people may find that a less expensive brand suits them just as well. It's important to experiment and find the best option for you.