4 Types of Roasted Coffee Beans

When people talk about coffee, they might talk about how dark they like their roast.

On the other hand, coffee-lover circles do not mention the roasted coffee beans themselves. 

We want to go over the types of roasted coffee beans and why they are essential to people’s enjoyment of coffee. 

What Are Roasted Coffee Beans?

Roasted coffee beans are coffee beans that have had the moisture taken out of them through roasting. 

You want to use roasted coffee beans fast because, once roasted, the roasted flavor may start to dissipate.

Why Are Coffee Beans Roasted?

We should clarify that coffee beans are not literal beans. We call them beans because they are shaped like beans and come from a red or purple cherry-like fruit. 

An actual coffee bean is not brown, as you might expect, but rather green. 

Roasting changes that fresh green look into a shiny brown through changing the bean’s physical and chemical makeup.

The roasting process helps to extract the bean’s authentic flavor. The process is not the same for all coffee roasters because they create coffee with varying roasts to suit people’s needs.

Types of Roasted Coffee Beans

Let us now look at the individual types of roasted coffee beans.

Arabica (Coffea Arabica)

Arabica coffee beans usually produce higher quality coffee. They do not contain as much caffeine or acid content as the Robusta coffee bean, but they are more fragrant.

Arabica Beans

The Arabica coffee bean also makes for a smooth drink. It is naturally sweet and delicate, so many people claim it is the best coffee bean.

Arabica coffee beans also take up a considerable chunk of the world’s coffee bean production. People even believe they were the first coffee bean ever cultivated around the 12th century.

The plant originates in the southwestern highlands of Ethiopia, though it is now considered a rare species there. Otherwise, you can find it in China, Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific.

Any place with fertile soil above sea level with high rain levels is perfect for growing these beans. That is why Brazil, with its dense rainforests, is another excellent place for growing them.

Though robust against pests and disease, Arabica coffee plants need a lot of attention. 

Farmers need to prune and trim the trees constantly. This can be challenging when farmers cultivate them in large numbers. 

Maraba coffee is one type of coffee blend made with Arabica coffee beans.

Maraba coffee is unique among coffee beans. It is grown in fertile volcanic soils in high hills in the Maraba area of southern Rwanda. 

Farmers will pick the fruits containing the coffee beans in the March-to-May rainy season. Afterward, at every stage of production, workers will hand-pick the highest quality beans.

Farmers have only sold Maraba coffee beans since 1999. That is because farmers could not properly wash and prepare the beans for the market without proper equipment.

The U.K. and the U.S. split the market for Maraba coffee. You can most likely find a good Maraba coffee blend in New Orleans.

Robusta (Coffea Robusta)

Second to Arabica, Robusta coffee is the second-most cultivated coffee bean in the world. 

Robusta Beans

It is a much more potent brew, with a more bitter flavor and a massive burst of caffeine. That is thanks in part to its significant pyrazine content.

That is why you will often find Robusta coffee in instant coffee and espresso. It is also sometimes a filler in some more robust coffee blends.

Some people prefer coffee with Robusta in it for its strong finish. Such a finish gives it a burnt or even rubbery taste.

Plus, despite having double the caffeine, Robusta also contains a lot of antioxidants.

Robusta’s strength makes it an excellent stimulant and diuretic. Some people find it helps relieve spasmodic asthma.

That said, Robusta still makes for a smooth drink, though not as smooth as Arabica. It has a woody or nutty taste to it and goes well with some milk and sugar.

Surprisingly, Robusta’s high caffeine content makes it less susceptible to disease than Arabica coffee. Many pests do not like the scent of caffeine, preventing infestations or disease.

It is also pretty easy to care for and yields a large crop. Thus, coffee is easier and cheaper to produce. 

This is especially the case since Robusta coffee beans can tolerate different environments. 

All these factors allow farmers to turn a good profit with Robusta coffee beans. If they use a 3 to 1 ratio of Arabica and Robusta, a roaster can save a little on raw bean costs. 

You are more likely to find high-quality Robusta brews from small-batch roasters. In batches like these, you may even detect hints of chocolate or rum in their taste profile.

Still, these would be a rare find since these batches are not always widely available.

Robusta coffee often comes from Brazil, though India, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Africa grow a huge supply too.

Liberica (Coffea Liberica)

An interesting fact about the trees that produce Liberica coffee is that they are tall. Coffee liberica trees reach a staggering 66 feet high, and harvesters need ladders to reach the fruit.

Thus it makes sense that the fruit that holds the coffee beans is one of the largest varieties. The beans even have a strange hooked tip, further differentiating them from other types.

These trees are grown in a specific climate, making production challenging to satisfy the global marketplace like other coffee bean varieties. 

Unlike other coffee beans, Liberica grows at low altitudes. It is just as robust as different blends at resisting pests and diseases, though.

However, Liberica coffee beans do not contain a lot of caffeine. It only has 1.23 grams of caffeine for every 100 grams of coffee.

On the other hand, Arabica coffee beans carry 1.61 grams of caffeine for every 100 grams. Robusta has 2.26 grams for every 100 grams.

Liberica coffee beans even have a slightly fruity or floral scent before brewing. When made into coffee, you will find a nutty, woody taste instead.

Some people are not a fan of Liberica coffee tastes. It is much more bitter and smokier than other types, which might be hard to hide with cream and sugar.

Still, thanks to such a complex range of tastes, Liberica adds dimension to several coffee grounds.

You will usually find Liberica coffee beans in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Guyana, and other places.

Interestingly, in the nineteenth century, Liberica was cultivated in Indonesia after coffee rust disease sprang up. This disease killed almost the entire population of Arabica coffee trees.

Coffee was a huge commodity even at that time, so the Liberica was cultivated as a substitute for the Arabica coffee tree.

Long story short, the Philippines cultivated and sold the Liberica bean so well that its economy exploded. It was enough that the Philippines could declare their independence from the U.S.

However, the U.S. placed harsh economic sanctions on the country and cut off supplies to it. No other country could match Liberica bean production, so it fell into the global marketplace.

Despite its cultivation in several different places, Liberica coffee beans are a rare type. Thus, it still has a limited global supply and is not distributed very widely.

You are not likely to find Liberica coffee beans in a regular United States coffee shop. There is always the option of looking online, though.

Exelsa (Coffea Dewevrei)

We are cheating a little with this one since it is part of the Liberica family. Still, this coffee bean is worth mentioning for its fine qualities.

Like Liberica coffee beans, Exelsa is grown mainly in Southeast Asia and is only a small part of the total global coffee production. 

It has a unique taste, combining aspects of light and dark coffee roasts. Some people find it even has a fruity flavor that is on the slightly tart side. 

Unfortunately, not a lot is known about Exelsa coffee specifically. That could be because it is grouped in with Liberica, which is already a rare breed on its own.

In fact, some groups debate whether Exelsa coffee deserves its distinction from Liberica coffee.

However, we know enough to say that Exelsa is a tough coffee tree to handle. It grows vertically rather than on top of the ground around it. 

The tree also grows fast, so it needs frequent pruning, which drives up production costs on top of a prolonged ripening period. Exelsa coffee trees also produce asymmetrical fruit.

The fruit is one such distinction from Liberica trees. Liberica trees have almond-shaped fruit, whereas Exelsa fruit is rounder and more petite. 

Final Thoughts

Though you more likely find Arabica beans in your coffee, the others are still worth a try.

After all, that is part of the fun of coffee: trying new varieties, seeing whether sugar or cream is necessary for enjoyment, and so on. 

If necessary, you can find some of the more rare brands online or at special sellers worldwide.

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