Various types of coffee beans filled in the bowl

4 Different Types of Coffee Beans that you should Start Grinding

Henry Muller

We've all been there at some point – gazing point-blank at the long list of coffees and not knowing what to pick. When you stroll down to a cafe, the jars loaded with coffee beans can seem intimidating. Arabica, Robusta, Liberica. Excelsa. Light roast, Medium roast, Dark roast. Argh! Coffee beans are all we need! Simmer down, lovely brewers. Actually, it's not as tricky as it might seem.

Light, medium, and dark define how the java beans have been roasted to foster their flavour and aroma. Let's get into the types now. Generally, coffee beans boil down to four main types: Arabica, Robusta, Liberica and Excelsa. Each coffee bean type has a distinct personality and trait, including shape, size, and taste profile.

Let's take a look at the world of coffee beans:

4 different types of coffee beans

1) Arabica coffee beans

Raid in your larder and have a look at your coffee. We bet it will be either Arabica or Robusta. Arabica coffee beans are the most favoured beans around the world. Not to forget, they are our absolute favourite too! They make up more than 70% of the coffee trade globally. 

These beans are produced at high altitudes in regions with consistent rainfall and plenty of shade. Due to their minuscule stature (typically no taller than six feet), arabica trees are easy to prune and pluck, making them more manageable. 


What do they look & taste like?

Arabica beans have a tad stretched-out shape with a greenish-blue tint. Once dried and roasted, arabica beans take on a rich brown hue and an elongated shape with an S-shaped slit in the middle. Arabica bean's rich aromatic profile, satisfying texture, and exceptional flavour are surely going to dazzle your taste buds.

These espresso beans have a sugary undertone contributing to their naturally sweet profile.

In addition, they have a subtle, soothing quality about them. Arabica beans have an extensive and more refined selection of flavours, such as nutty, cocoa-like and even fruity. It is therefore a no-brainer as to why it is superior to other coffee beans.

2) Robusta coffee beans

Robusta is the second-most-grown coffee bean. Robusta gets its name from the fact that its shrubs are stronger than Arabica. This means that you can grow Robusta in an extensive range of conditions. The reason it stands second on this list is that its aromas and flavours aren't quite tempting. 


What do they look & taste like?

Robusta coffee beans are known for their small size, round shape, and brownish-yellow tone. Talking of its taste, let's get this straight; Robusta has a bitter flavour. These beans are commonly roasted dark and used in coffee beverages to boost strength.

The bitterness of Robusta beans is because of their higher caffeine concentration. Woohoo! That's some great insight for caffeine lovers!

3) Liberica coffee beans

With Arabica and Robusta dominating the world of coffee, Liberica is considered a sleeping giant! Liberica beans have the flavour and the richness to satisfy even the most ardent coffee connoisseurs. Liberica beans account for around 2% of global coffee production and are rarely found in the West. 


What do they look & taste like?

Unlike other commercial species and varieties (Arabica and Robusta), the Liberia beans have a distinctive shape. It is asymmetrical. Liberica beans have one side relatively shorter than the other, giving it a hook-like appearance. It also has a coarse, more jagged centre furrow than ordinary coffee beans.   

Although some enjoy Liberica beans for their exceptional strength, the bean is renowned worldwide for its bitter and rusty flavour. It is usually darkly roasted and used in Java blends or instant coffee.

4) Excelsa coffee beans

Excelsa Coffee is predominately used in blends to give coffee more richness and depth. Excelsa was once thought to be a separate species. However, it now falls under the category of Coffea liberica. Excelsa is grown in Southeast Asia at high temperatures and low altitudes.


What do they look & taste like?

Elongated and oval, Excelsa coffee beans look a lot like Liberica beans. Excelsa coffee beans have a dark flavour that's tart and fruity with a lingering aftertaste.

The scent of Excelsa coffee beans may not be particularly appealing. But the bean drops will hook you up once you get past its smell!

Choose the bean that’s best for you

Did you know that finding the right coffee bean is as crucial as the right type of grinder and tools to brew a great cup of coffee? Sadly, this isn't something we can choose for you. We believe coffee bean selection is subjective and influenced by personal tastes.

  • Do you want a mild-flavoured coffee with a hint of sweetness and caramel? Arabica will help. It's perfect for savouring a cup of gourmet coffee. 
  • Perhaps you want to impress a special someone with rarity and distinctiveness? To which we say: Excelsa! This mysterious bean has a flawlessly blended flavour throughout the spectrum. 
  • For those who need a wake-up call in the early hours to keep their fragile schedule from crumbling, Robusta leads the way. It doesn't have much flavour but has twice as much caffeine as any other coffee bean. 

It all boils down to your preferences. If you get the opportunity, we urge you to explore every variety of beans available to you.‍

The final drop

Coffee beans are sourced from around the world to provide a diverse range of rich and unique flavours. Determine which flavour or blend works best for you and stick to it. Even though we only have four main types of beans, there is still plenty of room for experimentation. 

The four major beans can be combined in varying proportions to create hybrids and mixtures. Also, there are different ways to roast them that change and enhance the flavours they already have. When it comes to taste and aroma, the options are practically limitless. 

So, it might take a little time and effort, but everyone is bound to find a bean to tickle their taste buds. Imagine all the great coffee you'll get to brew while searching for it!


Henry Muller

Team TAB
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I am a barista by profession hailing from NC. My journey began in my late teens when I started working as a barista in a local coffee shop. My passion for coffee quickly became evident as I immersed myself in the art of espresso extraction, latte art ...