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what are the different types of coffee beans, and what flavors can you expect from them? Different regions produce different types of coffee beans
The two main types of coffee bean are arabic and robusta, with Arabica accounting for around 70% of the world’s coffee production.
Arabica have a sweeter, sugary taste with a higher acidic content, whereas robusta beans have a much stronger taste, and the caffeine content is about twice that of Arabica coffee beans.
Robusta coffee beans are hardier and can be grown in more difficult conditions, whereas arabica beans are more delicate and don’t respond well to bad handling. Arabica coffee is seen as superior in quality and is more expensive.
The region the coffee beans are grown in makes a big difference to the taste. The soil, climate and altitude all play their part.
Arabica beans grown in Latin America have a slightly bitter flavour with undertones of cocoa, whereas arabica beans grown in Kenya will be more bitter in taste.
Most robusta coffee beans are grown in Asia, but the best quality are found in Sumatra. Despite their reputation of inferior quality and strong, bitter taste, Java and Kona are considered gourmet quality, and can command top prices in the coffee market.
Cheap tins of instant coffee found in some supermarkets are almost always made from low grade robusta. However having said that, arabica doesn’t necessarily mean quality, and you can get some very nice blends of arabica and robusta.
At the end of the day what type of bean you choose depends on your taste. The best idea is to try out different types of beans and roasts.
you could try roasting your own coffee beans and experiment with different blends, or you could go to your local coffee supplier and ask for advice on which beans would be best for your requirements.
If you want to make espresso, experiment with arabica and robusta. Robusta will make a thicker crema and add a higher caffeine content to your beverage. There are different grades of robusta, so only use higher grades for a better taste.
Lower grades of robusta can taste horrible, so always use high grade. You may find that around 10% of robusta to 90% gives a good taste. You will get a thicker crema, and kick from the higher caffeine content, but still get the sweeter, smoother taste from the arabica beans.
If the coffee tastes to strong then use less robusta. Try roasting the beans for less time, as the longer the roast the stronger the flavour.
The type of roast and the setting on your coffee grinder can make all the difference as to how your coffee will taste. You can buy the best quality beans, but if they’re roasted to dark, or too light, or they are too coarsely or finely ground then you won’t get the desired results.