Coffee Has 2 Main Types
Considering it has flavors that range from bold dark roasts to vanilla and hazelnut infused, it might be surprising that coffee actually only has two main varieties of beans it’s derived from. The arabica and the robusta beans account for most of the world’s coffee production.
The arabica bean is considered a descendant of the original trees from Ethiopia – the country that’s credited for coffee’s origin. Coffees made from this bean are mild and quite aromatic. This type of bean accounts for a whopping 70 percent of the world’s coffee production. The tree that makes the arabica bean tends to prefer higher altitudes and thrives in mild climates, but is killed by heavy frost.
The trees that produce robusta beans are considered easier to grow and less fickle than their arabica cousins. Despite this, the beans are not a favorite on the worldwide coffee market since the coffee they produce tends to be a bit more bitter than arabica. It also has a lot more caffeine in the mix. These trees thrive in lower altitudes and can handle a bigger temperature range, but the flavors drop them to the 30 percent share in the worldwide coffee market.
So, if all the world’s coffee comes from only two major types of beans, where do all the flavors come from? Growing conditions and processing.
The flavors of beans grown in different parts of the world can vary. Even though the beans come from the same kind of tree, the flavors might vary greatly due to soil and water conditions. It is believed that trees in Africa produce beans that give off a berry or spice type flavor while those from Latin America are clean-tasting and perhaps a bit tangy.
Another major factor in the taste can be greatly influenced by the roasting process. The temperatures used in roasting and the time allotted to the process can greatly change the end taste of a ground bean. Master coffee makers know how to take the same batches of beans and greatly alter their flavors through roasting.
Also, designer flavors of coffee, such as vanilla and chocolate, are generally produced as additives put into the bean during or right after the roasting process. So, despite the fact there are only two types of beans, the end result can be ground coffee that has as many flavors as there are ideas for them.