MEETING THE BEANS

Coffee is like an art form, mechanically and physically. Like food, it comes in hundreds of varieties, their names would be one the first step to help you differentiate dark from light roast, good from bad beans. Like wine, the flavour of coffee depends a lot on it’s source, the bean. Understanding this aspect of coffee is the first step to help understand how to make a good cup of coffee.

Essentially coffee plants can be broken down into three main categories:

PLANT NAME DESCRIPTION SUBTYPE
ARABICA Coffee arabica is the original plant discovered and cultivated today for it’s aromatic pure-bread coffee. Arabica naturally contains the least caffeine, it possesses the most subtle and desirable flavours.
Most arabica harvesting happen by hand using a ladder or hook choosing the ripest beans. This is partly due to it’s growth on mountainous land usually unreachable by machine. The best farms pick multiple times each season to ensure selection of the ripest beans
BOURBON many people consider coffee beans produced by this Arabica hierloom is the world’s best. The challenge with this is the plant takes up lot of space, is disease-prone, and the trees take up longer to bear fruit. This plant yields 1/3 more beans than Typica and it’s cherries ripen faster, but are more fragile. TYPICA is often considered the original coffee bean plant. Though it grows slightly better than Bourbon, it tends to have lower yields. CATURRA was discovered in Brazil and developed from Bourbon cuttings. This plant flourishes at elevations below 3,500 feet with easy-to-pick cherries that grow close to the ground. There are many other types of Arabica including BLUE MOUNTAIN, CATIMOR, CATUAI, MARAGOGYPE, PACHE COMUM, TIMOR and more!
ROBUSTA As Arabica’s best replacement, robusta contains twice Arabica’s caffeine content and it’s plants are highly disease resistant. Because these plants are generally shorter than Arabica, and takes up less space between each tree, this plant quickly became a world commodity. Compared to Arabica, Robusta’s flavour is incomparable. The best Robustas can be compared to Arabica’s low grade beans.
LIBERICA During the 1870s a disease called the leaf rust ran through Arabica coffee fields, and was predicted that this bean could replace Arabica. This was too far fetched a prediction because Liberica’s flavour isn’t even comparable to the worst Arabica coffee, and it’s per plant yield was worse than Robusta’s. To this day, this plant type thrives in Southeast Asia, but it has no real market penetration elsewhere.

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