You’ve probably been to your local supermarket and saw coffee beans labeled as Arabica Coffee Beans. Or maybe you had a look at the packaging of the coffee you’ve been drinking at home all along, and you saw that it is made from Arabica beans.
Well, if you are new to the world of coffee, we will explore the world’s most popular coffee bean in detail. And if you are a coffee connoisseur, please read on as we are sure you will learn something new from this article.
What are Coffee Beans?
You can be forgiven for thinking that coffee beans are actually beans. But the truth is that they’re not beans at all. Coffee beans are the seeds found in the fruit of the Coffea plant. They are only referred to as beans because they have a bean-like appearance.
There are over 100 species of coffee plants. In this article, we will discuss two species of coffee plants, namely Coffea Arabica (also known as Arabica) and Coffea Canephora (also known as Robusta). The Arabica and Robusta plant species produce fruit that turns red or purple in colour when ripe, and is often referred to as a coffee cherry. Each coffee cherry normally contains two beans, however, in certain cases you will only find one coffee bean in the coffee cherry. These beans are known as Peaberries.
These coffee cherries are cultivated and processed, and then the beans are ground or shipped as whole beans to the customer.
Where do Arabica Coffee Beans come from?
Arabica beans come from the fruit of the Coffea Arabica coffee plant species. It is believed that the Arabica coffee plant was the first-ever coffee plant to be cultivated. It was first found in Ethiopia centuries ago by a goat herder named Kaldi.
The Arabica plant can take up to 7 years to fully mature and it grows best at higher altitudes. That said, it is also known to grow well at sea level.
Coffee plants are grown in an area called the Bean Belt, between the tropics of cancer and capricorn.
Arabica beans are mainly produced in Brazil. Brazil is the leading producer of coffee in the world and has been holding this prestigious title for the past 150 years. In 2019, Brazil produced a staggering 44 200 000 60kg bags of coffee.
Other Countries that Produce Arabica Beans
Arabica beans are grown in various other countries as well. These include:
Also Read: Which Country Produces the Most Coffee?
What Coffee is made with Arabica Beans?
It is very likely that the coffee you enjoy at your local coffee shop is made from Arabica beans. Most coffee shops and coffee outlets like Starbucks purchase Arabica beans exclusively.
As mentioned earlier, Robusta beans are mainly used in the production of instant coffee.
And then, you get coffee made from a blend of Arabica and Robusta to create a coffee with the best of both worlds, if you will.
Types of Arabica Coffee Beans
Hopefully, this segment won’t confuse you. In addition to the two types of coffee beans, Arabica and Robusta, you get types of Arabica beans as well.
Typica and Bourbon
The two types of Arabica beans that we will be discussing are Typica and Bourbon (not to be confused with whiskey).
Typica is the first type of Arabica bean to be discovered and is enjoyed across the world due to its excellent cup quality and variety. Bourbon is a natural mutation of Typica and is also loved by many due to its sweet taste.
Arabica vs Robusta
If you’ve been reading up on Arabica coffee you surely would’ve seen Robusta being mentioned as well. Arabica and Robusta are the two most popular coffee beans. There are various other beans as well, but they are rare and beyond the scope of this article.
Due to the popularity of Arabica and Robusta, these two types of beans are often compared. Let’s have a look at their differences.
It’s Arabica vs Robusta.
As mentioned earlier, Arabica coffee is made from the fruit of the Coffea Arabica plant, and Robusta coffee is made from the Coffea Canephora plant.
Arabica coffee is the world’s most popular coffee and accounts for 70% of the world’s coffee production. It is considered to be the world’s best coffee. Robusta coffee, on the other hand, accounts for the other 30% and is made from the Coffea Canephora plant which we mentioned earlier.
But why is Arabica coffee more popular than Robusta coffee?
Well, it’s because of the flavour. Many people prefer the sweet, sugary, almost fruity flavour of Arabica coffee. Raw Arabica beans smell like blueberries, and when roasted, it smells fruity and sugary.
Coffee made from Robusta is considered to have a strong, harsh, and oatmeal-like flavour which might not be favourable for some.
Arabica beans are generally considered to be of high quality, whereas Robusta beans are of a lower quality.
Robusta has high levels of caffeine when compared to Arabica. To be exact, Robusta has a caffeine content of 2.7% compared to Arabica’s 1.5%.
It is worth mentioning that Arabica coffee is more expensive than Robusta coffee. Apart from the fact that Arabica beans are considered to be high quality, Arabica plants are prone to diseases and thus, more expensive to cultivate. But despite the fact that it is expensive, many people from around the world don’t mind paying a premium fee for this coffee.
The Robusta plant has a better defense against diseases and requires less attention. Interesting fact, caffeine acts as a natural repellent against harmful insects. And due to the higher levels of caffeine in Robusta plants, they are cheaper to cultivate.
When we look at the acidity of Arabica and Robusta, it is Robusta which comes out as the winner here. Robusta coffee is less acidic and might be the preferred choice for those who suffer from health conditions such as acid reflux, gastric ulcers, or irritable bowel syndrome.
Arabica beans contain more sugar than Robusta beans, hence the sweet and fruity flavour normally associated with Arabica coffee. To be exact, Arabica beans contain double the amount of natural sugar when compared to Robusta beans.
To the untrained eye, both these bean types will look similar. But in fact, Arabica beans are more flat and oval in shape. Robusta beans are slightly smaller and rounder.
How much Caffeine is in Arabica Coffee Beans?
As mentioned above, Arabica coffee has much less caffeine than Robusta coffee. This is most likely a deciding factor for many when choosing between these two popular types of coffee. Apart from their taste, of course.
There are many factors that can affect the caffeine content in coffee but in this example, we will try to keep things simple.
A 240ml cup of normal drip coffee brewed from Arabica beans has around 96mg of caffeine.
If caffeine is a concern for you, then Arabica coffee is the better choice. As discussed earlier, it has less caffeine than Robusta coffee.
Also Read: How much Caffeine is in Coffee?
The Benefits of Arabica Coffee Beans
Coffee made from Arabica beans has the health benefits normally associated with the world’s favorite brew. But as always, it is a case of too much of a good thing. When it is not consumed in moderation it can have unwanted side-effects on the human body.
But if you consume up to or less than the recommended 5 cups a day, Arabica coffee can have the following health benefits:
- It can lower your risk of getting Cancer
- It can lower your risk of getting Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia
- It lowers your risk of getting Parkinson’s Disease
- It can help you lose weight
- It keeps you alert and focussed
If you consume large amounts of Arabica or Robusta coffee, you stand a chance of suffering from the following conditions:
- Higher blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Raised cholesterol levels
Also Read: Why Coffee is Good for you
Where to Buy Arabica Coffee Beans
Because Arabica coffee is such a popular type of coffee, find Arabica coffee beans won’t prove to be difficult at all. Most supermarkets stock this popular coffee bean and it will most likely be the first you spot on the rack.
While there are many supermarkets that sell Arabica beans, it doesn’t necessarily mean that those beans are quality beans. It is best to do your homework first before buying expensive Arabica beans. It’s a great idea to visit the various online outlets and read the customer product reviews.
Are Arabica Coffee Beans the Best?
If you enjoy drinking instant coffee (we don’t judge), then it is made from Robusta beans. We don’t like to think of the Robusta bean as an inferior bean, nor do we think that coffee made from the Robusta bean is of lesser quality. In fact, you get high quality Robusta coffee beans that are sought-after by many and some consider good quality Robusta coffee beans to be just as good as Arabica.
At the end of the day, you should go for the type of coffee that tastes the best to you. If you’re after a sweet flavour, then you should opt for Arabica. If you’re after a more earthy flavour, then Robusta should be your first choice.
Hopefully, you should now have a better understanding of Arabica coffee beans, where they come from, how they are grown, and how they are different from Robusta beans. And the next time you’re enjoying a cup of your favourite brew, either at home or at a coffee shop, you can be sure that it is most likely made from the world’s most popular coffee bean.