Know Your Coffee Beans
Any true coffee lover is on an unending hunt for the best coffee beans.
And they are spoiled for choice!
There are distinct types of beans, each with a unique flavor to lend specialness to a drink or dessert.
Want to know your coffee beans? Well, you’re in the right place!
What Are Coffee Beans?
Coffee beans are NOT beans!
No. They are seeds. From the fruit of a plant.
These seeds are harvested, the pits fermented and then roasted. The caffe beans then undergo processing to get rid of any moisture and develop an inherent flavor.
You can grind the roasted beans to make several recipes….. including your morning cup of caffe!
Where Do Coffee Beans Come From?
Coffee beans grow on a bush-like plant that’s trimmed to around 5 feet in size. Bunches of fruit grow and ripen, but only 4 to 10 years after planting.
Coffee plants live for 30 to 40 years. Ripe beans turn red, but experience counts in picking the right ones.
Most of the world’s coffee grows in the ‘bean belt’ that’s equatorial in location, spanning Vietnam and Columbia, Brazil and Ethiopia.
4 Types of Coffee Beans
Superficially, all beans appear alike. But each type has certain characteristics that set it apart from others.
There are over 120 varieties of coffee plants, each producing a slightly different kind of bean.
The most popular 4 types of coffee beans are:
Arabica Coffee Beans
These beans are native to Ethiopia, with roots going back all the way to 1000 BCE.
They are now the most common kind grown in many nations. Arabica coffee beans grow in tropical climates and at high altitudes between 500 and 2500 meters.
These beans are smooth and dark brown with a well marked central crease. Arabica beans have a nutty flavor when roasted. They are even a little fruity or sweet, but not bitter.
Arabica is widely regarded the highest quality coffee bean. It’s used in brewing coffee and in recipes like coffee cakes.
Robusta Coffee Beans
Smaller, paler and rounder than the Arabica, Robusta beans are the 2nd most popular variety. Native to sub-Saharan Africa, Robusta grows today in India, Indonesia, Vietnam and few other countries.
Robusta coffee beans taste bitter and are usually blended into coffees along with other flavors, or used alone in espresso and instant coffee.
Adding steamed milk or cream softens the harsh flavor, making this an item in many espresso recipes. It also produces a nice layer of crema.
Excelsa Coffee Beans
Restricted to medium altitudes of Southern and Eastern Asia, Excelsa beans are oval and elongated.
They are popular for a rather complex flavor which makes them ideal for various coffee blends. It’s even a great choice for brewing all by itself.
Excelsa beans have both light and dark roasts, with a tart, fruity taste. These coffee beans are often only available through specialty stores and sellers.
Liberica Coffee Beans
These grow in western and central Africa since the bean is able to adapt to harsh, hot climates and lower altitude. It also grows in the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.
The coffee beans are almond shaped and have a floral aroma. It’s flavor is nutty or woody, making for an interesting brew. Liberica coffee is also good for blends, lending a punch to various recipes.
Which Are The Right Coffee Beans?
There is such diversity in these beans with respect to flavor that the right choice depends on what you’re making!
And the taste you’re aiming for.
Be it desserts or marinades, baked foods or spreads, coffee drinks or blends, you can come up with interesting taste combinations by choosing different beans.
There are 3 kinds of roasts:
Light roasts are roasted for a shorter duration, and therefore retain more of their flavor. Citrus or fruity notes are common. These coffees are also more acidic and have more caffeine.
Medium roasts begin to lose their acidity and are popular for brewed coffee as they have a more balanced flavor.
Dark roasts are intense and provide a rich flavor in brews like espresso. Baking and other recipes also use them.
How To Grind Coffee Beans?
The way you grind coffee affects its flavor. You can choose between fine, medium and coarse grinds.
Fine grinds are idea for pressurized brewing such as while making espresso. Water quickly passes through the coffee grounds under pressure, so a larger surface area improves extraction.
Medium grinds are for milder brewed coffees. A pour over or auto-drip coffee making technique relies upon these grinds.
Coarse grinds lead to lesser surface area, which prolongs the extraction period. French press and cold brews are good for these grinds.
How To Brew Coffee From Beans?
Only if you understand how the different kinds of brewing work can you choose the perfect beans for that balanced and delicious flavor.
- Auto-drip or pour over brewing involves dripping or pouring hot water over coffee grounds to extract flavor.
- A Cold brew method is preferred for cold coffees, and involves prolonged brewing without using heat. This results in a smooth and full-bodied extract.
- French press brewing extracts most of the flavor from coffee using hot water to soak the grounds, and applying pressure at the end of the process.
What Are Decaf Beans?
There’s no such thing!
All beans contain caffeine. A decaffeination process before roasting the beans extracts the caffeine.
You can dry the beans, then roast and grind the.