Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages and most internationally traded commodities in the world. Coffee is a brewed beverage made from roasted beans of a coffee plant.
Although we refer to coffee as a bean, coffee is in fact a cherry from the coffee plant. The plant is a shrub native to subtropical regions of Africa and Asia but is now widely cultivated in Africa, Central and South America too.
Coffee beans vary in size, shape, colour and flavour depending on the region and conditions in which they were grown. The unique range of flavours and aromas between varietals is expansive.
Here’s the THREE main varietals of coffee beans.
The most well-known and popular type of coffee bean, Arabica beans are the most commonly produced variety and considered higher quality beans. In fact, over 60% of the coffee beans that are produced in the world are Arabica varietal.
These beans are grown at high altitudes and need to be in an area that has a steady rainfall and plenty of shade. One of the reasons this variety of coffee bean is seen all over the world is because the trees are easy to care for. Although they are delicate and easily affected by their environment, Arabica is full of flavour and aroma.
The second most produced coffee in the world is Robusta. As the name suggest, the Robusta beans is hardy and immune to a variety of disease. This type of coffee bean grows best in a hot climate with irregular rainfall and can grow at a number of altitudes too.
Compared to Arabica beans, the Robusta plant has double the amount of caffeine which means they are an excellent choice for a caffeine boost and a harsher flavour. It is said that robusta beans have a slight chocolate hint to its flavour, which is great when you want to pair it with milk and sugar.
One of the hardest beans to source are the Liberica beans, they are larger than the other beans and the only one in the world to have an irregular shape. Liberica beans are also unique in their aroma and some say that its not just smoky, but fruity and floral in flavour too. The caffeine concentration of liberica beans is the lowest of all the varietals.
Liberica is one of the main coffee species cultivate in the Philippines and right here in Malaysia. In Malaysia it is generally grown in Malaysia’s Coffee Belt on the west coast of Johor. Due to the rareness and limited supply on a global level, the cost of Liberica beans are higher than its cousins.
Note: In 2006, the Excelsa coffee varietal was re-classified as a type of Liberica.
For more reading on coffee varietals, here's a good read: https://espressocoffeeguide.com/all-about-coffee-2/coffee-plants/coffee-plant-varietals/