Coffee Varieties: Overview

When we talk about the different varieties of coffee, we are not talking about the different types of drinks which you can pick up in the nearest Starbucks. We are talking about different kinds of coffee beans. It is the beans that determine the strength and the flavour. There are four main varieties of coffee bean.


This is one of the most commonly produced varieties of coffee bean, and around 60% of all coffee beans will fall into this category. They are grown mainly at high altitudes, and this is only in areas which see moderate, even rainfall. They also require plenty of shade. One of the many reasons for the undoubted popularity of this bean is that the plants are easy to grow and look after. They do not develop any taller than six feet, so harvesting the beans is relatively easy for the average grower. However, it is the most delicate of the coffee bean plants, as it is easily affected by its environment, and the risk of disease is higher. Well-known varieties of Arabica include caturra, bourbon, typica and blue mountain.


This is the second most-commonly produced coffee bean. The name gives you a good idea of how strong this bean is. It can withstand many of the risks from the environment and is much stronger against disease than the arabica bean. It can be grown at most altitudes, but it should be raised in a hot climate. Irregular rainfall is not a problem either. This type of bean contains much more caffeine than the Arabica beans, and this helps to make it much more resistant to disease. When using good quality robusta beans, it will keep its flavour, even when cream, milk or sugar are added.


This type of bean is not so easy to find these days. This plant was first used in the Philippines in the 1890s after there was a global problem with disease in arabica plants. However, this did not last long, and it was around 100 years before it began to be used again, but it is still rare to find. The beans from this plant are larger than those of other plants, and they have a very irregular shape. The flavour is considered to be both floral and fruity, as well as having a slightly smoky touch. Many who have tried it, believe that it does not taste like traditional coffee at all.


This is part of the Liberica family, but it is very different from the traditional Liberica. However, it has a similar shape and similar traits in the cultivation of the plant. It is found mainly in south-east Asia, and only 7% of the world’s coffee comes from this bean. It is blended with other types of coffee for better flavour and strength.