Discover the Exquisite World of Coffee: Unveiling the Finest Coffee Bean Varietals and Origins
Are you ready to embark on a journey that will take you through the tantalizing world of coffee? Prepare to be captivated as we delve into the realm of the best coffee bean varietals. From the renowned Arabica to the exotic Liberica, we will explore the fascinating origins, distinct flavors, and tantalizing aromas of these coffee treasures. Join us as we uncover the secrets behind the best tasting coffee types and discover the top-rated coffee beans that will delight your senses and elevate your coffee experience to new heights. Get ready to savor each word, for this article is a coffee lover's paradise!
Arabica coffee is the dominant variety of coffee produced globally, accounting for about 60% of commercial coffee. It was first cultivated in Yemen but originated in Ethiopia. Arabica coffee beans are known for their sweeter and more complex flavors compared to Robusta beans, making them highly sought after in specialty coffee markets. They have a bright acidity, medium body, and multiple layers of flavor. Arabica beans are best brewed pour-over style to showcase their subtleties.
Coffea Arabica plants are highly influenced by their environment. They thrive in higher elevations with ample rainfall, well-draining soil, natural shade, and minimal temperature fluctuations. Volcanic environments with mineral-rich soils are particularly favorable for their growth. It can be challenging and resource-intensive to cultivate Arabica coffee beans in environments that do not naturally meet these criteria.
Among the four types of coffee beans, Arabica is the most delicate and susceptible to poor growing conditions and diseases like Coffee Leaf Rust (CLR), Coffee Berry Disease (CBD), and Coffee Wilt Disease (CWD). Monoculture farming of Arabica plants is particularly risky as a disease outbreak can devastate an entire crop.
Currently, there are around 44 known varieties and cultivars of Arabica coffee according to World Coffee Research. Some well-known ones include:
The major Coffea Arabica varietals include:
- Robusta (Canephora)
Amarello, Arabusta (interspecific hybrid), Arusha, Bergendal, Blue Mountain, Bourbon, Catimor, Caturra, Catuai, Charrieriana, Colombian, Ethiopian Harrar, Ethiopian Sidamo, Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, French Mission Bourbon, Hawaiian Kona, Java, K7, Kent, Maragogype, Marigojipe, Mayaguez, Mocha, Mundo Novo (hybrid), Pacamara (hybrid), Pacas, Pache Comum, Pache Colis (hybrid), Panama, Ruiri 11 (dwarf hybrid), San Ramon, Santos, Sarchimor, Sidikalang, SL28, SL34, Sumatra Mandheling, Sumatra Lintong, Sulawesi Toraja Kalossi, Timor (interspecific hybrid), Typica, and Uganda.
Icatu hybrids are created by repeatedly backcrossing hybrids of Coffea Arabica and Coffea Canephora var. robusta with the coffee plant cultivars Caturra (Coffea arabica var. caturra) and Mundo Novo (Coffea arabica var. mundo novo). Also see Varietal Distinction; Selective Breeding.
Despite its relatively low yield and susceptibility to pests and diseases, Typica remains one of the most culturally and genetically important Arabica coffee varietals in the world. With its origins in Ethiopia and its ability to thrive at high altitudes and colder conditions, Typica produces large coffee beans with a sweet and clean flavor profile that is fruity, floral, and complex.
Obata is a high-yield varietal developed by the Instituto Agronomico (IAC) of Sao Paulo State in Campinas, Brazil to address the challenges of climate change and disease. It has a high resistance to leaf rust and produces large beans that consistently result in a clean and balanced cup of coffee with delicate yet distinct acidity.
Acaia, also known as Red Acaia or Acaia Cerrado, is a rare varietal primarily found in Brazil. It is a natural mutation of the Mundo Novo varietal and is highly regarded in Brazil's Cup of Excellence competitions. Acaia plants thrive at altitudes over 800 masl, producing a high yield and showing general resilience to pests and diseases.
Jackson is named after a coffee farmer in Mysore, India, who discovered these trees on his farm in the 1900s. Descended from the first coffee seeds brought from Yemen to India in 1670, the Jackson varietal is now commonly found in Rwanda and Burundi. As part of the Bourbon genetic group, Jackson is a tall and high-yield varietal that produces large beans but is susceptible to diseases like leaf rust.
Robusta is the second most commonly grown type of coffee bean and derives its name from its robust nature compared to Arabica plants. It can thrive in a wider range of environments and is less susceptible to diseases. However, its flavors and aromas are not as desirable as Arabica. Robusta beans have a darker, earthier flavor profile and contain nearly double the caffeine content of Arabica beans.
While Robusta is generally considered lower quality than Arabica, efforts are being made to develop high-quality Robusta beans and Robusta-Arabica hybrids. The beans are best suited for espresso preparation and are commonly used in espresso blends in Southern Italy. They produce a rich crema and their dark and earthy character complements the sweetness of steamed milk in drinks like lattes and cappuccinos.
Learn more about Robusta coffee beans here.
Liberica beans make up only about 2% of the world's coffee crop. This varietal was once more significant, but after disease outbreak affecting Arabica, Liberica production decreased. However, with the challenges posed by climate change, Liberica may regain importance as it is more resilient than Arabica.
Liberica coffee has a unique flavor profile with floral and fruity notes accompanied by a deep smokiness. It has a full body similar to Robusta coffee. While it may not appeal to everyone's taste, there are exceptional Liberica coffees available when produced well.
Liberica trees are taller than Robusta or Arabica trees, and their beans are larger and more irregularly shaped. They thrive in light shade and well-drained soils, and can tolerate poorer soil conditions compared to Arabica. Although Coffea liberica originated in West Africa, it is primarily grown in Malaysia and the Philippines.
Explore more about Liberica coffee beans here.
Best Coffee Country
When it comes to quality, some countries stand out. Panama leads the pack with the highest number of top-scoring samples in cupping tests, mainly due to its production of the prestigious Geisha varietal. Ethiopia and Kenya closely follow with their high-quality coffee production.
It may come as a surprise that Hawaii ranks fourth. While Kona coffee is considered good but expensive, it has a strong market in Japan and the US. The ranking may be influenced by the locations of roasters who submit samples for evaluation.
Learn more about the best coffee country, Panama here, and about Ethiopia as a runner up here.
Brazilian coffee is known for its quantity rather than quality, according to the data. Colombia and Indonesia, both known for exporting large volumes of coffee, follow Panama, Ethiopia, and Kenya with their top-scoring samples. It's worth noting that some esteemed coffee countries have not yet achieved a top position in cupping tests.
Interestingly, the two largest coffee-producing nations, Brazil and Vietnam, have not ranked highly in terms of quality. Smaller origins like Peru, Bolivia, Mexico, Burundi, and Papua New Guinea also have room for improvement in terms of cupping scores.
Based on the data, Panama, Ethiopia, and Kenya are considered the top contenders for sourcing the best coffee in the world. They consistently produce exceptional coffees that outshine other origins.
Read more about Brazilian coffee here.
Best Tasting Coffee Type
When it comes to variety, the Geisha bean stands out as superior. Almost 18% of the samples of Geisha scored in the top cupping score range of 96-100. It consistently outperforms other coffee varieties, with more samples in the top range and fewer in the lower range.
Other findings from the data include:
- The Pacamara varietal, often compared to Geisha, had only 2.22% of cupped beans scoring in the highest range. Kenyan varieties SL28 and SL34 scored significantly higher, and Bourbon narrowly surpassed Pacamara with 2.38%.
- Typica appears to have more quality issues compared to other varieties, with over one-fifth of submitted samples scoring below 89 points. This is a notable concern even when compared to other specialty beans like Caturra, Catuai, and Bourbon.
- It's worth mentioning that Ethiopian coffee, although often referred to as "heirloom," is not considered a single genetic variety by agricultural scientists.
Geisha coffee from Colombia is available here.
The Top-Rated Coffee Beans
Panama is the clear winner when it comes to top-rated coffee beans. The rare Geisha beans from Panama are highly regarded and frequently used by winners of the World Brewers Cup. They also command high prices at auctions.
Ethiopia closely follows Panama with its top-rated coffee beans. Ethiopian coffee, particularly from Yirgacheffe, is a favorite among coffee professionals. It shares many qualities with Panama Geisha but comes at a more affordable price.
Kenyan coffee is bold yet delicate, often characterized by flavor notes of raspberry and blackberry. The SL 28 and SL 34 varieties, commonly grown in Kenya, have high cupping scores and are surpassed only by Geisha coffees in terms of quality.
In the world of coffee, exploring the vast array of varietals is an adventure that every caffeine enthusiast can embark on. From the delicate and nuanced flavors of Arabica varietals like Typica, Obata, and Acaia, to the bold and robust profiles of Robusta and Liberica, the possibilities are endless. And while each origin has its own unique characteristics, it is ultimately the passion and craftsmanship behind the beans that truly make them exceptional. So whether you find yourself drawn to the vibrant flavors of Ethiopia's Sidamo or the smooth richness of Colombia's Supremo, the search for the best coffee bean varietals is a never-ending journey that continues to delight and captivate coffee lovers around the globe. Cheers to discovering your own personal favorite amidst the top-rated coffee beans and savoring every sip of the world's most beloved beverage.
Discover the unrivaled world of coffee grinding as we unveil the Wirecutter Favorites, guiding you towards finding the ultimate coffee grinder. Gain comprehensive insights, expert recommendations, and insider tips to elevate your coffee game to astonishing new heights. Unleash the true potential of your beans and embark on a flavor-packed journey like no other. Don't settle for anything less than perfection – let the ultimate coffee grinder be your key to unlocking the unparalleled richness and aroma of every brew.
Looking for the perfect coffee maker with grinder? Discover the ultimate guide to find the best one for you! We'll explore the advantages and disadvantages, along with our top picks, to help you make that perfect brew. Click here now!
Looking for the ultimate coffee experience? Discover the best single cup coffee makers with integrated grinders! Our comprehensive guide explores top-notch features, a detailed comparison, and even highlights the pros and cons. Elevate your mornings with the perfect brew in every cup. Click here now!
Discover the top burr coffee grinders of 2022 in our ultimate guide to choosing the best grinder for pour over. Elevate your coffee experience and achieve perfection with these expert-recommended options.