Arabica Or Robusta? Your Guide to Coffee Beans

If you are buying coffee beans and aren’t sure what to look for, read on. This guide will help you understand the differences between the basic types of coffee, without the coffee jargon, so you can decide which variety is right for you.

The two main varieties of coffee plant are arabica and robusta. Arabica originated from Ethiopia, while robusta came from Uganda. Both are now grown in several other regions throughout the world, and most coffee is labelled clearly with the country and region it was grown. Generally speaking, arabica is superior to robusta, with a much stronger and more distinct flavor, as robusta can be bitter and weak-tasting. However, the taste also varies depending on the region the coffee comes from, and the processes it is subjected to during growing, shipping, storing, and brewing.

You will often find that coffee is described in terms similar to those you might find in wine tasting. The four main categories used are flavor (such as sweet or spicy), aroma (such as flowery or chocolaty), body (such as medium-bodied or full-bodied), and acidity (which refers to how sharp or clean the coffee tastes, NOT to its pH).

When you buy coffee beans, you will probably buy them already roasted; however, you can home-roast them if you choose. Roasting unlocks the flavor from the bean, and the extent to which beans are roasted varies. For example, you can buy medium roast beans, Italian roast beans (Italian refers to the roast; it does not indicate that the beans came from Italy), and so on.

It is worth trying out different types of coffee, using the above points as a guide. You will be amazed at the range of flavors out there, and the more you try the different flavors, the more of an expert you will become.