The Different Types of Coffee Beans, Roasts, and How to Store Them

Before the beans end up as that familiar drink that you enjoy, they start off as berries on plants grown in different altitudes, soil acidity, and climates, depending on their variety. The berries don’t mature at the same time and are picked by hand.

Once the berries are harvested, they are often left to dry under the sun and raked regularly to prevent mold and mildew. Machines are then used to remove the beans’ husks before the beans are sent to another machine to remove any remaining skin.

Once only the beans remain, they are sorted and graded by size and weight before checked for imperfections. The beans that pass inspection are then marked and exported.

Common Coffee Bean Varieties
Though there are many different varieties grown all over the world, the two most common varieties that make up most of international demand in both industries and businesses are the following:

• Arabica – Sometimes called “gourmet coffee,” Arabica contains half the amount of caffeine found in Robusta and has a more pronounced flavor and aroma. Its name differs depending on the region it is grown.

• Robusta – Typically grown at elevations lower than those required by Arabica, Robusta earned its name for being less demanding when it comes to growing and maintaining, and has a higher amount of caffeine than the former.

While Arabica is used for more high-end consumption, it is the most common type of coffee sold all over the world, while Robusta is often used in instant coffee packets because of its relatively high caffeine content.

Types of Coffee Roasts
Before a bean is ground into powder and mixed with hot water to yield the caffeine boost everyone needs, it needs to be roasted with dry heat and constant airing. There are at least three major categories when it comes to roasts, varying in color from golden brown to almost black:

• Light – The original flavor of the bean is allowed to shine through when it is lightly roasted, thus giving it the lightest and most delicate flavor with the downside of being more acidic.
• Medium – While light roasts will appear more dry, medium-roasted beans will appear more chocolate brown in terms of appearance, and is characterized by a slightly sweeter flavor with much less acidity.
• Dark – When beans are roasted until their internal sugars start to caramelize and their oils appear to surface, the result is a flavor that is really strong, smoky, and in some cases, even spicy.

Storing Coffee
Aside from roasting, storage also has an impact on the flavor of coffee beans and the cup as a whole. Many external factors can destroy the bean’s flavor, such as oxygen, heat, and even light and moisture. This is why the ideal storage condition for beans is a cool, dry environment away from light and preferably airtight, as coffee can oxidize easily.