The Major Types Of Coffee Beans
The type of beans used determines the flavor of the coffee. Many, however, could not tell the difference between the types of coffee beans once it has been brewed and blended. The type and quality of the bean used is the cornerstone for a perfect coffee; it determines the aroma, flavor, body, and even the caffeine content.
Coffee beans are not actually “beans”. They are really seeds of the coffee tree/plant that produces red or purple fruits that resemble cherries. Coffee grows in sub-tropical climates from sea-levels of around 6,000 feet (1828.8 meters).
Coffee fruits only ripen at specific times and their harvest must be done by hand. A single coffee tree can yield about 4,000 coffee beans (from 2,000 fruits); these beans in turn can produce two pounds of coffee every year.
To harvest the beans, there are two processes: wet and dry. For the dry process, the fruits are sun dried and once the fruits are thoroughly dried, they are machine stripped to get the beans. For the wet process, the fruits are soaked in the water until the beans come off the fruit. They are then dried and sorted in grades and sizes.
Most of the farming processes of coffee are done by hand, such as the picking and the sorting process.
After the sorting, the coffee beans will be sent to the roasters. Most coffee beans remain unroasted until the time that it needs to be ground. Roasted beans usually have a two week life span wherein it is still considered fresh. Freshness is a big factor that affects the flavor of the coffee; it is therefore important that the beans remain fresh to achieve that perfect cup.
There are thousands of variations of the types of coffee beans, 25 of which are considered major types. Three out of 25 of these major types of beans are commonly used by consumers: Kona, Robusta and Arabica.
Coffea Arabica holds 70% of the world’s commercial coffee market. Arabica beans are mostly grown in Indonesia; hence the nickname Java for coffee (Java is Indonesia’s old name). Not only are Arabica beans vulnerable to pests, disease and frost but it also needs unique growing conditions, and therefore Arabica beans are expensive. Even though Arabica beans can also grow in subtropical climates, high humidity mixed with lots of sun it is still not as widely grown as Robusta. Arabica beans can keep for quite some time after it has been roasted. It has a rich taste and flavor. The best espressos are almost exclusively brewed using Arabica beans.
Under the major type Cofea Arabica are other grades of Arabica beans that have acquired distinct tastes and flavors because of the conditions and regions where it was grown; such as the Blue Mountain coffee of Jamaica and the Kenyan among many others.
Coffea Cenaphora or more popularly known as Robusta is grown worldwide. It can grow even in temperatures as high as 27 degree Celsius and on almost any grounds plus it has a high resistance to disease; it is therefore cheaper than Arabica and Kona. Robusta beans are mostly used for processed or canned coffee that do not focus on the flavor of coffee or else as fillers for Arabica beans, to make Arabica beans more affordable. Robusta can be mixed with any other types of coffee beans to increase the caffeine content and give coffee an extra kick.
Kona beans production is much smaller compared with Arabica and Robusta. One of the types of coffee beans that are very expensive, the Kona is normally grown in the island of Hawaii. It has a high demand in the world market because of its powerful aroma. Because of its strong aroma and desirability, it is very rare to have Kona beans blended with flavorings.
Indeed coffee is not as simple as it seems. The flavor that you enjoy in a cup was borne from a complex process of growing the plant in perfect conditions in order for the beans to acquire the distinct flavor that it has. On top of that, there are the types of coffee beans that have their own specific characteristics. Next time you enjoy that special brew, take the time to savor the flavor and try to determine the kind of coffee bean that was used.
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