The Four Types of Coffee Beans

Coffee beans are, in the most general terms, either hard or soft. Hard beans produce strong coffee; soft beans make mild coffee. The four types of beans are from over countries, and their crops can be categorized more specifically into four groups: Arabica, Robusta, Liberica and Excelsa. Let’s get to know each of the beans in coffee, their unique flavors, and what makes each of them special.


The majority of specialty coffees come from the Arabica species of coffee beans. Arabica coffee trees are native to Ethiopia, and were first exported by the Dutch to Java in 1699. They’re known for their milder, more complex flavors than other types of coffee beans. Arabica makes up 60% of all coffee consumption in the world, and most Arabica coffee comes from South America, Central America and East Africa. Arabica coffee is known for its sweet, smooth taste and higher acidity level. It’s also more expensive than Robusta coffee.


Robusta coffee trees are less finicky to grow than Arabica, which makes them cheaper to cultivate. They make up about 40% of the world’s coffee consumption, and are usually used in instant coffees or as filler in ground coffees due to their strong flavor and high caffeine content (about twice that of an Arabica bean). Robusta plants generally have higher resistance to diseases than arabicas. Most Robusta comes from West Africa and Indonesia. Robusta has a stronger flavor and less acidity than Arabica, but it is higher in caffeine.


Liberica, also called Liberian coffee, is a rare species of coffee. It has a strong but very complex taste and aroma that is described as woody, nutty, chocolaty and even fruity. The beans are larger than any other variety and the tree on which it grows is the tallest among coffea species. The Liberica tree is native to Liberia, but the Philippines are the only place in the world where this tree is cultivated commercially. A priest from Liberia brought Liberica seeds to the Philippines in 1843 and Filipino growers have embraced these coffee beans and now grow them on a commercial scale.


The Excelsa coffee bean is native to the African continent, and it has been traced back to the early 1900s in Rwanda. Excelsa trees can be found in many other countries like Vietnam and Thailand, but since they thrive in warm, wet climates, they are typically grown in Africa. The Excelsa coffee bean is often associated with flavor notes such as fruit, caramel, cocoa and nuts. Also it has a higher caffeine content than many other types, which makes it particularly enjoyable for people who love to drink their morning cup in order to wake up and get going with the day.

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