If you are buying coffee beans for your home or business but you are not sure what you should be looking for, read on – this short guide will help you to understand the differences between the basic types of coffee, and bust the coffee jargon so you can decide which variety is right for you.
The coffee plant is native to Africa. The two main varieties of coffee plants are Arabica and Robusta. Arabica coffee originated in Ethiopia, while Robusta came from Uganda. Both types are now grown in several other regions throughout the world, and most coffee is labeled clearly to show which country and region it is from.
Generally speaking, Arabica is considered by coffee enthusiasts to be superior to Robusta, with a much stronger and more distinct flavor. Robusta can be bitter and/or milder-tasting – however the taste also varies depending on the region in which the coffee was grown and the processes it was subjected to during growing, shipping, storing and brewing.
Coffee is often described in terms similar to those you might find in wine tasting: the main three categories used are flavor (such as “sweet” or “spicy”), aroma (such as “flowery” or “chocolaty”), body (such as “medium-bodied” or “full-bodied”) and acidity (which refers to how “sharp” or “clean” the coffee tastes, NOT to its pH value).
When you buy coffee beans, you will probably buy them already roasted, however you can “home-roast” them if you choose. Roasting unlocks the flavor from the bean, and the extent to which beans are roasted varies. For example, you can buy “medium roast” beans, “Italian roast” beans (“Italian” refers to the roast – it does not indicate that the beans came from Italy), and so forth.
It is worth trying out different types of coffee, using the above points as a guide. You will be amazed at the range of flavors out there, and the more effort you take in trying the different flavors, the more of an expert you will become.