While Arabica is the most popular and well-known coffee bean, it’s just one of the delicious options to try. Here’s our quick guide to the main coffee bean varieties, what they taste like, and how to get the maximum flavour from them. Ready for a taste test?
Different types of coffee beans to discover
While there are literally hundreds of varieties of coffee to delight your taste buds, all the coffee beans that are grown fall into one of four main types:
Each one has a deliciously unique quality, giving you plenty to taste and explore. Buying quality whole-bean coffee and grinding it yourself just before brewing, guarantees the freshest flavours, oils and aromas. No matter which type of coffee bean you choose, it’s well worth grinding the coffee beans. You’ll quickly fall in love with the whole ritual and sensory experience.
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Arabica for smooth sweetness
Arabica is far and away the most popular type of coffee bean. More than half of the world’s coffee production is made by Arabic plants. It may even be the first ever coffee bean to have been consumed, dating back to Ethiopia in about 1,000 BC.
These coffee beans are known for their smooth, soft taste, with hints of chocolate, caramel, nuts, fruit and berries. There are many sub-types of Arabica coffee to try out, but it’s sought after because of its relatively low caffeine content combined with satisfyingly high natural sugars and flavours.
Many experts say Arabica is best drunk black (or with the smallest splash of milk), using either a drip coffee maker or an espresso machine at home.
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Robusta for boldness and strength
Robusta is the second most produced coffee out there. This bean originated in sub-Saharan African, but can be grown almost anywhere. It's a tough, resilient plant that definitely lives up to its name.
Robusta has a harsher, more bitter flavour, and a higher caffeine content than Arabica. Its unique taste is often described as earthy or oaky.
The sturdy Robusta bean is great for espresso, as it gives a lovely, rich crema that’s thick and flavourful. If you’re a fan of crema, then Robusta is the coffee bean varity for you.
What is crema in coffee?
Liberica for smokiness and spice
Liberica comes in third, but these beans can be expensive and tricky to find outside of western and central Africa and Southeast Asia.
Its beans are an irregular shape and much larger than Arabica or Robusta beans. The taste is smoky, woody and nutty, with hints of berry and spice. On its own, Liberica is best brewed in a filter coffee machine, drunk black, or with sugar.
If you do get your hands on some of this rare coffee, try blending it with Arabica for an espresso with a distinctive kick. Great base for an extra special latte or cappuccino with frothed milk.
Excelsa for tart fruitiness
Excelsa beans are grown mainly in Southeast Asia and are pretty hard to come by. Although actually part of the Liberica family, Excelsa is very much its own bean.
The almond-shaped beans produce a tart, fruity taste and complex flavour of both light and dark roast coffee.
You can brew yourself a cup of Excelsa using the drip coffee or pour over method, but a French press works well too. And, like Liberica, it’s great in a blend – adding a mysterious aspect and opening up a huge range of intriguing flavours to experiment with at home.
Discover different types of coffee >
Why grind your coffee in your kitchen?
Each of these coffee bean varieties delivers a distinct taste experience, so it's important to do them justice by grinding them yourself, at home, just before brewing, for maximum freshness. All the amazing flavours and essential compounds are released as soon as soon as the coffee grounds hit water. Grind size determines the way those flavours are extracted while in contact with the water, so it's important to use a quality grinder with precise settings.
The importance of selecting the right grind
Coffee experts know their grind size, and for good reason. The grind size directly affects the resulting flavour and consistency of the brew. Why? It’s all a matter of science.
A coarser grind lets water flow through more quickly, with less surface area to extract flavours from. This means the water needs to be in contact with the coffee for longer in order to bring the full flavour out in your cup.
A fine grind is packed tightly and has a larger surface area to work with, so it needs less time in contact with the water or it will become over-extracted, bitter and hollow.
Try out different grinds for different brew methods. With 70 grind sizes to choose from, our coffee grinder gives you the opportunity to explore with perfect precision.
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"Coffee smells like freshly ground heaven."