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Coffee Bean Species and Varieties

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Coffea evergreen bushes provide us the coffee beans that we grind and brew. The beans are grown in over 50 countries. Every year, the Coffee bush flowers and develops a cherry-like fruit, inside which two small seeds or coffee beans are produced. The Coffea bush has over 10 different species, the first being discovered in Ethiopia thousands of years ago. When the coffee bean was discovered, its cultivation and use spread to the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and beyond.

The majority of the coffee we drink today is made from beans grown in Latin America, Western Africa, Indonesia and the Philippines, and continental southeastern Asia. There are two species of coffee bean that constitute more than 90% of the coffee beans sold internationally. One is the Coffea Arabica bean and the other is Canaphora. Depending on the region, species of coffee, roasting, and preparation, coffee beans can infuse a cup of coffee with a variety of flavors and textures.

Coffea Arabica seeds account for over 75% of the coffee beans used to make this beverage. Arabica beans are flavorful and contain less caffeine than the Canephora beans. Coffea Arabica bushes are grown principally in Western Africa and Latin America. Different regions of these countries are known for producing a different type of coffee bean; that is, a coffee bean having a different origin flavor when brewed. These different region types are called varietals. The climate, soil, weather, and particular plants and seeds give regions their distinctive coffee bean tastes.


Coffees Varieties of the World

In Africa, Arabica bean cultivation can be found in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and the northern Muslim countries, among others. Ethiopian coffee beans have an easy, smooth flavor and are delightfully accented by floral notes. Kenyan coffees are also smooth but a bit more tart than Ethiopian beans. They have a pleasantly fruity aftertaste, as does coffee brewed from Tanzanian beans. These beans are a lovely afternoon coffee with a milder texture and flavor than its northern counterparts.

A large variety of coffee bean flavors come from Latin America. Coffee beans grown in Brazil lend coffee a slightly bitter cocoa flavor with rich nutty undertones. A favorite of many, Columbian coffee is very rich and bold, a great morning coffee with a thick, dark texture, and a walnut finish. Costa Rican coffee beans are similar to Brazilian, but have a lighter, sharper, almost tangy flavor.

Mexico is also a great producer of coffee beans. The beans there vary in flavor and texture from dry and light to thicker and deeper in complexion and flavor. Although many of the beans grown in Latin America are of the Arabica variety, some regions grow Canephora bushes. Coffea Canephora bush seeds have fewer oils and lesser harvest quantities than Arabica beans do. Higher acidity and less oil give coffees brewed from these beans a slightly more bitter quality. Despite this, Canephora is still a very popular coffee bean, used worldwide in inexpensive, canned coffee blends and expensive espresso roasts. Canephora beans typically have almost 50% more caffeine than Arabica beans.

Canephora beans are produced far more in Asia than in Arabica. These varietals are known for having a more acidic and bitter although not unpleasant flavor. Most of the coffee beans we use come from such island nations in Asia as Sumatra and the island of Komodo. Coffees brewed from these regional beans have a full texture and a slightly acrid, herbal flavor. Java and Kona varietals are especially popular and make a wonderful morning coffee due to their earthy almost stringent quality.

Another factor that influences the taste of a coffee bean or cup of coffee is roasting methods and final preparation. The basic rule is the greater the amount of time spent roasting, the darker, more full-bodied, and flavorful a coffee will be. Although coffee beans lose essential oils, and caffeine, during roasting they also change chemically during this process, and acquire new, different, and flavorful oils. The darkest roasts are known as Italian, French, Full City, City, American, to name a few. French roasts are used to make espresso, due to the high oil content and low acidity. City roast is common in western United States, and American roast is synonymous with eastern cities, including New York and Boston. These coffees are often produced using the drip method. In addition, some people choose to us a French Press, which results in a stronger flavor and oily texture. The other method is by using an espresso machine to brew coffee, as it lends the coffee a strong flavor, as well as higher caffeine content.