While most of us enjoy our cup of coffee, not many are aware of the different types of coffee available. There are different types of coffee beans, different roasts, and different blends. Then there are different flavors, different bodies and different levels of acidity. Are you suddenly feeling that your cup is overflowing? Let us look at the various attributes that go into making your perfect cup of coffee.
Different Types of Coffee Beans
Grown along the equator, in what is called the Coffee Belt, there are four main types of coffee beans.
Arabica – making up around sixty percent of the total coffee consumed globally, Arabica grows mostly in Latin America. However, it is also grown all across the Coffee Belt which imparts different flavors to the beans. More acidic than Robusta, the Arabica roast is generally more expensive and is considered to be of higher quality than the other types. Most coffee shops sell Arabica as blends.
Robusta – containing double the caffeine content as compared to Arabica, this variety is grown in Africa and Indonesia. Second, only to Arabica in terms of consumption, Robusta tends to be bitter and harsher than the other varieties due to its roasting process. Their deep flavor makes them the choice of most for making espresso coffee.
Liberica – grown in the Philippines, this variety has a fruity, floral aroma and produces a woody smoky flavoured cup of coffee.
Excelsa – consumed by just 7% of the coffee drinkers globally, this variety is grown in Southeast Asia. It imparts an even stronger fruity flavor and is considered as a genus of Liberica.
The Roasting Spectrum
Coffee is sold in a multitude of blends. These blends feature coffee beans that have been roasted differently – light, medium and dark roasts. The difference in caffeine quantity, the levels of acidity, and the body and flavor are determined by the amount of time used for roasting the beans.
Difference Between Light and Dark Roast
Light roasts generally have higher acidity and brightness. They also have more caffeine than medium and dark roasts. Coffee made with light roast beans impart more of the original flavor of the beans and have very little oil on the bean surface.
Dark roasts, on the other hand, impart smokier/earthier and stronger flavors. Their fuller body makes them better for adding milk and sugar. Shinier in appearance due to the oil on the surface of the beans, they also tend to spoil faster due to the oxidisation of the oil. Dark roasts have less caffeine and they take on the flavor from the roasting process, thus losing some of their original flavors.
While many coffee drinkers have a taste preference, they are unaware of the different roast profiles. It may be worthwhile to try a range of roast profiles to determine which roast suits you best. An article at AdamsandRussel.co.uk explains that if you like strong coffee, then a medium to dark roasted coffee bean is ideal for you. The general rule of the thumb is that dark roasts feel more roasted in their flavor, whereas, light roasts impart a more distinct flavor profile.
What is a Blend?
A blend is a mix of two or more coffees of a single origin. This could be beans sourced from two or more different countries or regions. While the average blend would be a mix of four different beans, some blends can be as complex as a combination of eight different beans. The final flavor would depend on the individual percentage of each type of beans in the blend.
What Is Coffee Bloom?
Coffee bloom is a vital part of the brewing process; the bloom is what gives coffee life. Coffee bloom takes place when the gases present in the coffee bean are released. These gases are formed at the time of roasting the beans. Introducing the grind to hot water starts this process as the bean expands and pushes out the gases from inside.
The bloom is how we can find out about the freshness of the bean as well as how long back was it roasted. The release of the gases is what brings flavor and aroma to the coffee. The longer the beans are kept after roasting, the less the quantity of gases left within. This is one of the primary reasons that make an old coffee taste stale. That is how you can judge the freshness of the coffee.
However, there are certain methods of extraction post which you need the coffee to lose some of the gases as it can taste ripe if it contains excessive gases. Pre-ground coffee will not give any bloom as grounding the beans leads to rapid loss of gases. This is why grinding coffee beans at home are favoured by a large number of coffee drinkers.
Variables that Affect Coffee Bloom
Coffee bloom gets reduced as the roasted beans get older. However, many reasons can cause the coffee bloom to get affected. Beans kept in a hot environment will lose gas quickly. That is the reason why it is recommended to keep them in a cool place. However, while a refrigerator is a cool place, you have to remember that coffee absorbs flavors and smells very easily. Another factor that affects coffee bloom is the roasting. Darker roasts have more gas. But this also results in the slower escape of gas, thus reducing the bloom. The hardness of the bean is also a factor that affects coffee bloom. Hard beans make it difficult for the gas to escape. Dry climate can affect coffee bloom. It is advisable to keep your coffee beans in a humidifier cabinet in areas with low humidity.
Which Type Should you Buy?
How do you decide on the type of coffee to purchase? The base flavors in coffee are determined by its origins. Coffee from Latin America offers nutty and chocolatey tones. Beans from Africa and Arabia tend to have floral and fruity flavors. The Asia and Pacific region beans are more spiced, herbal and earthy. Coffee bags carry the origins of the beans on them. Try out different blends or single region beans to work out your favourite.