An introduction to your choices
What are the varieties of coffee beans available and what are their characteristics?
When it comes to choosing your coffee powder or your coffee bean, it can be daunting. While there might appear to be so many different types of coffee to choose from for your espresso coffee maker, there are actually only two types of coffee beans that really count: Arabica and Robusta.
We also have the Peaberry bean, widely available and preferred in India and also considered as a ‘variety’ of coffee bean. Let us explain:
Peaberry beans are not a coffee variety but a mutation of either Arabica or Robusta beans. A regular coffee bean has two halves and is flattened on one side. A Peaberry bean is round-shaped like a pea pod and is smaller in size than a regular bean. During the growth cycle of a regular bean, a mutation occurs occasionally and only one half of the bean develops and changes shape to a sphere. Not only do these mutations look different, but they also taste richer, have more caffeine content, and have a better aroma.
Arabica, Robusta and Peaberry explained.
If you like your coffee to conjure up tastes of fruit and berries, if you’re fonder of sweet than bitter, then Arabica beans are probably your best bet.
Arabica beans have twice the sugar content as Robusta beans, which probably has a lot to do with their popularity.
Mostly grown in Latin America, Arabica beans tend to be more expensive than Robusta beans but surprisingly contain just half the caffeine (1.5% vs 2.7%). This relatively high amount of caffeine in Robusta beans makes them poisonous for bugs and so they’re more resilient to grow.
Robusta beans are often thought to be inferior, which is not always the case.
Some high-quality Robusta beans are especially good for espressos as they have a very deep flavour and excellent crema.
And it’s the crema result that guarantees Robusta beans a place in most Italian coffee blends. Robusta is more readily available because the beans are easier to grow. They’re sturdier plants, often grown at low altitudes, and are much quicker to bear fruit. Mostly grown in Africa and Indonesia, the yield per tree is much higher than with Arabica beans.
Do some research.
And don’t fall into the trap of believing that all Arabica beans are high-quality and all Robusta beans are not.
Top-class specialty Robusta coffee is as good if not better than low-class Arabica. But it’s difficult to find:
Robusta only accounts for 25% of the world’s coffee production. It’s about personal taste. Sample a few blends and figure out what it is you like.
And then there’s the Peaberry bean. Abundantly available in India and preferred for it’s rounded, fruity taste and a bold aroma.
Watch the video for an in-depth report on your choices. You’ll be surprised.