Coffee beans are the seeds of a red/purple cherry like fruit. Within the cherries you will find just one or two of these green coffee beans. Before the roasting process, coffee beans are green, but they become brown after. Through roasting, green seeds can expand and change their taste, aspect, smell and taste. The main purpose of roasting is providing a longer shelf life for the benefit of the distributor and the consumer.
There are over 100 coffee species, however the two most common types of coffee beans used in making coffee are the Arabic beans and the Robusta beans (also known as Canephora). These are the two primary types of coffee cultivated for drinking. Although Arabica and Robusta beans may appear similar appearance – there are a number of differences that significantly differentiate these two popular species of coffee.
Arabica Coffee Beans
More than 65% of world coffee cultures are of Arabica, but many of them are not top quality. Arabica beans tend to have a sweeter, softer taste. They have a slightly larger/elliptical shape, more oval. Arabica is a special variety, because it has four chromosome sets, while Robusta have two. The taste of Arabica can be different, according to the location in which is grown. Arabica contains almost 60% more lipids and almost twice the concentration of sugar than Robusta. This factor also probably has a big impact on why we prefer the taste of Arabica. The best conditions to grow Arabica are at low altitudes, such as one thousand feet in Hawaii, four thousand feet in Mexico and between three thousand five hundred and nine thousand five hundred at the Equator.
Robusta Coffee Beans
About 25% of the world’s coffee production is Robusta. Compare to Arabica beans, Robusta beans are much more smaller and circular. When taste is involved, this is a subjective factor, because some people may find a coffee variety tasteful, while others may not. One reason that the taste isn’t as good for Robusta is Robusta has twice as much caffeine as Arabica. Premium quality products from this variety are used more for espresso blends. Robusta coffee beans are easier to grow, have a higher yield and are less vulnerable to pests and weather conditions. From a price perspective, green beans of Robusta is about half the price of Arabica green beans on the commodity market. The Robusta beans contain less oil than the Arabic beans which tend to give them a more acidic and bitter taste.