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What Are The Different Types of Coffee?


There’s nothing like a cup of coffee to get us up in the morning. Whether you make yours at home or visit your local barista, there’s no denying coffee has the lead role in our morning routines. But what are the different types of coffee beans and what difference do they make to the flavour of our cup of Joe?

What Are The Different Types of Coffee?

by Ellen Hill


Can’t start your day without a coffee? You’re not alone. In the UK, we now drink approximately 95 million cups each day! Whether you use instant, drag yourself to your nearest barista, or opt for an at-home machine to make your wakeup juice, these are the types of coffee to know about. 

What Actually is Coffee?

This may seem like kind of an obvious question, we all know coffee is a brewed drink that we rely on to wake us up enough to function in the mornings. But what actually is coffee? 

The drink itself is made from combining boiling or hot water with roasted coffee beans. The beans, though, are technically berries from the Coffea plant. The plant is a shrub or small tree which is native to Southern Africa and tropical parts of Asia. There are, of course, different varieties of the Coffea plant which is how we get different kinds of coffee. 

The shrubs have become widely popular exports of Central and South America, the Carribean, and Africa. The shrubs produce red or purple edible fruits, and it is the seeds inside these fruits which we know as coffee beans. 

different types of coffee come from different coffee plants

Different Types of Coffee Beans 

Expanding your coffee horizons is easier than ever. With coffee shops on every corner and at-home recipes becoming increasingly popular, you can perfect your coffee order. With ethical coffee subscription services learning more about coffee is simple. Receive coffee straight to your door, choose your roasts or flavours, or get a random selection of blends from around the globe. 

Want to know more about the different types of coffee beans? We’ll talk you through the different types of coffee beans, and discover what each one means, so you can sound like a genius at the front of the café queue. 

The main types of coffee beans include:

  • Robusta 
  • Arabica 
  • Liberica
  • Excelsa

what different types of coffee beans are there?

Here’s a quick glossary of terms we’re using to describe the different types of coffee:

  • Body - the “thickness” or viscosity of the coffee. A coffee with “full body” will have a buttery, syrupy thickness, and “thin” or light body is more like water in texture and won’t tend to be felt so much on the tongue.
  • Richness - Combines multiple elements including body, aroma and flavour. So a rich coffee will be “full” in flavour, body, or/and acidity.
  • Flavour - What it tastes like. 
  • Aroma - What it smells like. There are over 800 known aromatics in coffee! Aroma tends to get stronger as the roast gets more intense or dark.

coffee beans affect flavour and caffeine levels in coffee

Arabica

Arabica is probably the coffee bean you’re most familiar with. Making up approximately 60-80% of all coffee produced in the world, it comes from the Coffea arabica species of the coffee plant and is produced primarily from Latin America. Often considered as higher quality than other types of coffee beans, Arabica is grown at higher altitudes and is the most “delicate” of coffee types. With complex flavour profiles and a brighter body, it’s clear Arabica is a popular choice for coffee lovers. Arabica can be more expensive than other types like Robusta, because of its complexity and requirements for growth. 

Flavour notes: delicate, complex flavours, bright body, sweet

Robusta 

Made from the species of Coffea shrub known as the Coffea canephora, it accounts for around 20-40% of the world’s coffee. Robusta coffee beans are strong and bitter, and the shrub can survive in a wider range of climates than other coffee plants. Robusta coffee because it contains more caffeine than other beans. You’re likely to find Robusta in espresso or instant coffee. Lower in acid, but higher in body, the highly caffeinated Robusta beans are a popular choice. 

Flavour notes: strong, bitter, highly caffeinated, full bodied

coffee flavour depends on the coffee bean type

Liberica

Grown in the Philippines, Liberica coffee is less popular than Arabica and Robusta, but more people are discovering its charm. As its namesake, Liberica coffee originates from Liberia, Africa, and is a more sturdy, adaptable plant than others. The bean itself is larger than Arabica and Robusta beans and less recognisable than its cousins with their clean cut line down the centre. Known for having a distinct woody, smokey flavour, Liberica beans have a full body and a fruity aroma. They’re usually used to add complexity to other coffee types rather than sold as a roast on their own. 

Flavour notes: smokey-woody flavour, fruity-floral aroma, full bodied, lower in acidity

Excelsa

Excelsa coffee is a sub-species of Liberica coffee but grown in Southeast Asia with a different flavour profile to Liberica. It’s much less known than Arabica and Robusta so it may be likely that you’ve never had coffee made from Excelsa beans. Because of this, its flavour profile and characteristics are much less well-known. It was discovered in Central Africa, in the form of the tree Coffea dewevrei. The beans themselves are lower in caffeine than other coffee types, and when grown carefully result in a cup of coffee with an interesting profile. It requires roasting for longer and at higher temperatures to achieve a flavourful cup. Like Liberica, it can have a fruity aroma and a woody flavour. It does, however, also have a popcorn flavour with notes of chocolate and cream as you continue to roast it. 

Flavour notes: darker roast, fruity aroma, woody-chocolatey flavour, soft & velvety body

what affects coffee beans and different coffee profiles

Fairtrade Coffee For The Future

Coffee farmers aren’t always compensated for their hard work growing and harvesting the coffee crops that end up in our mugs to start the day. With Fairtrade, a guaranteed price is agreed which makes sure every step of the supply trail is fair. Producers are required to carry out environmental risks assessments, as well as conform to human right regulations and fair payments. Whatever your coffee of choice, make a difference with fairtrade coffee and switch up your mornings by trying new coffee types or roasts!