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How to Choose The Right Coffee Beans

Updated on January 22, 2013

How to Select the Right Coffee Beans

Originating in Ethiopia, as early as the 9th century, coffee is a widely consumed stimulant beverage. It is one of the most popular beverages in the world. The most commonly grown species are coffea arabica and coffea robusta.

Ethiopia is now the 5th largest exporter of coffee beans (see picture below). Number one is Brazil, followed by Vietnam, a major producer of robusta beans. Next is Columbia, the largest producer of washed arabica beans.

What's the difference?

Arabica Beans - are the most prized beans, and command the highest prices. They are grown at the highest altitude. The finest coffee roasters use arabica beans; they give coffee its aroma, smoothness and body.

Arabica beans constitute about 75% of the world's coffee production.

Robusta Beans - are used in lower grade coffees. These beans are most commonly used in low-priced commercial blends and instant coffee. Commercial blends offer convenience and lower prices but they are often made up of inferior blends and roasts.

There is one more relatively unknown coffee bean, the Liberica. It is a minor African crop.

The amount of caffeine in coffee beans vary according to the species. Arabica beans, which are responsible for the body and lovely aroma of coffee, contain 1 to 1.7 percent caffeine.

The caffeine content in robusta beans, which is responsible for the strength and intensity of coffee, contains 2-4.5 percent caffeine.

Large industrial clients, such as multinational roasters, and instant coffee producers prefer robusta beans because of the cheaper cost: it also has double the caffeine.

To enjoy the best cup of coffee based on freshness:

Raw green coffee beans: retain freshness for years. You would have to roast them yourself. It is however, relatively easy to do, and is the most economical way to ensure that you are having the freshest cup of coffee.

Roasted whole coffee beans: will lose their freshness after only one week. It's difficult to tell how long coffee beans have been sitting on a shelf. If you can buy them raw and have them roasted on the premises, in your presence, then you will have the freshest cup of coffee.

Ground coffee: will lose it's freshness in less than an hour after it is ground. This is the stuff we buy in the supermarket which is far removed from a fresh cup of coffee.

Flavored Coffee Beans - these are popular and if purchased in the supermarket, usually contain artificial flavors that are added during the roasting process. Some manufacturers do use natural oils as Americans begin to demand food without chemicals. You can add your own flavoring such as vanilla, cinnamon, cardamon, chickory, citrus peels, etc.

While some may say a bean is a bean is a bean - there are many who argue that coffee should only be shade grown, which is the traditional method. It gives the berries a chance to ripen slowly and creates superior coffee beans. Other farmers have moved to the method of growing coffee in full sun. This causes the berries to ripen more quickly and is responsible for much larger crops - and what is allegedly inferior coffee beans.

Which Arabica bean would you like to try?

Depending on which part of the world the coffee is grown, arabica beans will have different characteristics such as flavor, caffeine content, and acidity.

For flavor and aroma - the well-known Jamaican Blue Mountain commands a higher price for flavor and aroma. There is also Kona, Sumatran, Columbian, and Guatemalan.

For acidity - Costa Rican, and Guatemalan

For body and richness - Java, and Sumatran Mandheling

For a winey taste - Ethiopian (see photo below), and Kenyan

For sweetness - Haitian, and Venezuelan Maracaibo

For the best coffee beans to make the best cup of coffee, they should be:



fresh roasted

freshly ground

and served immediately


For more coffee information see the link below:

Coffee Beans From Ethiopia

Coffee beans from Ethiopia
Coffee beans from Ethiopia | Source

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