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Challenge: What is my coffee caffeine limit? What is too much?

Amazing Facts About Coffee Caffeine Content in a nice infographic

PurelyCoffeeBeans shares important facts on about coffee caffeine in your mug of joe! If you’re drinking too much caffeine or if you would like more! Includes suggestions on where to find low levels of coffee caffeine, and introduces an amazing coffee infographic.

What can I learn about my coffee caffeine limit?

How much coffee is too much for me?

Are you looking for higher levels of caffeine in your coffee?

Challenging your coffee caffeine limit?

So if you’re looking for higher levels of coffee caffeine than you may typically find in Arabica based coffee, you may wish to refer to the Robusta coffee beans page.

18This contains information about robusta coffees which typically have higher levels of caffeine than their Arabica Beans cousin, and also check the map on the types of beans page to find countries where Robusta is grown more commonly: typically, Africa, Vietnam, and Brazil, to name just three.

Why is Robusta the poor cousin?

In general, Robusta beans are considered the poor cousin of the coffee bean, because they tend to have a much poorer taste, perhaps even making coffee unpalatable.

However, Robusta is widely grown, and consumed, and is found in many coffees, esp. cheaper instant coffees. Read “What coffee has the most caffeine?” from the Examiner (link missing). They are used in coffees when the coffee roaster needs either a cheaper product or a stronger coffee with more kick.

It’s typically used in brands of coffee that advertise to those challenging their coffee caffeine limit!

Which coffee has caffeine with a kick?

You will find many of the cheaper coffees in the supermarkets are made mostly from Robusta varieties of coffee beans. That includes freeze-dried or instant coffees, as well as the packs of ground coffees from popular brands such as Maxwell House or Folgers or any of a dozen other coffee brands.

Why? Simply, because of cost. These large companies can order huge amounts of coffee beans, to resell to consumers at lower prices.

Though you will find the prices very attractive, it’s doubtful that you will enjoy what you get because the beans are often over-roasted, giving the beans a burnt or even bitter taste. Much of the character of the coffees has been roasted away in favor of the brand flavor.

Which coffee has lots of robusta beans?

While I cannot give you a definitive answer about how much coffee caffeine you will find in the robusta beans in your coffees, (most manufacturers prefer to boast the percentage of Arabica beans!) or which coffees may contain more caffeine, you could try different espresso or Italian style roasts (some of which make good french press coffee, too), or you could simply add more coffee to the coffee maker.

Try doubling up on the amount of coffee you use, since most coffee drinkers tend to follow general guidelines that result in a weaker brew. This works as long as the amount doesn’t overaccentuate other tones, such as bitterness or acid tones in the coffee.

It’s in the Espresso!

Oddly enough, you may wish to try some of the espresso roasts which are darker roasted as these will typically include a percentage of robusta beans, and perhaps more caffeine to provide a European type ‘kick’ to the morning cuppa. Few coffee companies display the amount of caffeine per 100g on the side of packets, which would certainly help you.

My last suggestion: go to a coffee roaster or serious coffee lover’s coffee shop, and just ask. They may be able to direct you to specific blends/estates/regions that present a coffee more suitable to your requirements.

So how much is too much coffee caffeine? What is your coffee caffeine limit?

If you are looking for ‘less caffeine’ in your coffee, you should be looking at medium roasts of Arabica coffee, for the most part. Don’t be purchasing espresso roast or dark Italian roasts unless they are stated to be 100% Arabica, like Lavazza’s Qualita Rossa, or similar. Most espresso bean coffee contains amounts of extra Robusta for the flavor and extra ‘kick’ it provides.

Amazon’s search did throw up a few good suggestions, but no clue on the actual caffeine content, click if you want to see the results.

Which Asian coffee has lots of robusta beans?

Both Vietnam and India grow quite a lot of coffee, usually robusta beans, so you may wish to try those blends. However, as I said, robusta is usually blended with better tasting coffee to tone down the roughness and caffeine content, so it’s difficult to find a purely robusta coffee.

Six Caffeine Facts

After reading how much Mr. Annapurnaiah Kolluri from the Indian Coffee Board drinks, I realized that there really isn’t such a thing as too much coffee, is there?

Health advisers flip back and forth with their highly qualified opinions about how much is too much. And it’s not really about coffee, but rather the caffeine content that we choose to drink (see Caffeine Content found at PurelyCoffeeBeans.com).

There are some surprising caffeine facts that makes people think they are drinking just large amounts of coffee…

Caffeine Fact #1

Espresso has less caffeine per cup than regular cup. But if you find that you are irritable, or feeling nervous (twitchy!), you may want to switch to decaf in the afternoon or early evenings. Even a coffee lover has to slow down sometimes.

Caffeine Fact #2

The ‘strength of the coffee’ as perceived by many drinkers often relates to three factors: the darkness of the roast, the amount of coffee used, and the amount of caffeine in the particular varietal.

Caffeine Fact #3

Coffee, black or espresso, is a very low calorie food that stimulates the body for a short period after consumption. Typically, the caffeine is processed by the body within an hour or so after consumption, meaning that the effects of a cup of coffee are largely very limited to that initial ‘hit’.

Caffeine Fact #4

One surprising fact: darker roasts don’t necessarily contain more caffeine than lighter roasts.

Caffeine Fact #5

Another: Arabica beans are generally lower in caffeine than Robusta beans.

Caffeine Fact #6

Check out this coffee infographic that introduces a wide range of details about coffee — including its origin, its diverse varieties, and the ways that people drink it.

PrintWand Coffee Infographic

Ever hear of Kopi Luwak? At upwards to $600 per pound, Kopi Luwak is one of the most expensive coffees in the world—and it’s made from an animal’s feces. Kopi Luwak is made by feeding ripe coffee beans to a palm civet (a mammal that lives in southern Asia). The creature’s leavings are later processed into a pricey variety of coffee with a unique taste.

That’s just one of the facts you’ll find in this coffee infographic from PrintWand. It explores a wide range of details about coffee — including its origin, its diverse varieties, and the ways that people drink it. Read on to learn things about your favorite beverage that you never even thought to consider.

For technical reasons, I’ve split it into a gallery. But…

You can view the full infographic here (it’s large!)

So what is your coffee caffeine limit? How much do you need? Would you like more or less? Drop me a line!


What are the different types of coffee beans, find out here!

Signature of PurelyCoffeeBeans in calligraphic brush style

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What does Mexican coffee taste like? Do Mexican coffee beans taste good?

Mexican Coffee Beans: Affordable, Quality and Certifiably Organic

PurelyCoffeeBeans reckons, coffee lovers who adore Latin American coffee may not be convinced Mexican coffee is a coffee good enough for their cups! But Mexican coffee beans have been grown since the 1700’s, making it one of the oldest producers of fine coffee beans in the world.

Disclaimer: When you buy through a link on this site, I earn commission
from any qualifying purchases as I’m an Amazon Associate.

cup-of-mexican-coffee.jpg

What will I learn about Mexico’s coffee?

Is coffee from Mexico good? A close up on Mexico’s coffee beans!

If you are curious to know where the best coffee beans are from, let me show you Mexico in more detail. Most coffee is grown in the Southern and South-central regions of the country, and the variation from region to region gives each variety a distinct flavor that is appreciated by coffee lovers who enjoy a mild and light-bodied brew with delicate flavors that tell the story of the part of the country.

You may have heard the names Coatepec, Chiapas or Oaxaca Pluma, all famous Mexican coffees. But when you look at a map of Mexico, you will see that the continent narrows and begins turning eastward.

This area of Mexico is where the majority of coffees are grown, from the lowland coffee grown on in Veracruz on the gulf side of the continent to the Altura Coatepec grown in the mountainous area near the city of Coatepec.

You will often see high-quality coffee from Mexico marketed under these names, while coffee from the opposite side of the mountain range is usually called “Oaxaca”.

The highest quality coffee in Mexico is usually called Chiapas, and is grown near Mexico’s border with Guatemala. There are a few types of Mexican coffee that are considered specialty coffees in Europe, such as Liquidambar, Santa Catarina, Irlandia, Germania, and Hamburgo.

How is coffee in Mexico grown? Hint: Small farmers help!

Most of Mexico’s coffee is produced on small, individually owned farms, hand picked and dried, which means that Mexico is one of the most prolific producers of certified organic coffee, and its proximity to the United States means that the majority of high quality coffee grown in Mexico is shipped directly to the US at a lower price than nearly any other variety.

There is a wide variety of tastes and overtones due to the different growing regions of the country. The results provide a coffee that is not complex and serves as a base for some very tasty blends

Most of the beans grown in the mountains of Mexico have a nutty flavor and pleasingly light body. Depending on the soil and conditions in which they are grown, the beans can also be the opposite with bright acidity and chocolaty overtones.

What are five popular Mexican coffee brands?

Many people prefer Mexican coffee due to its variety of subtle flavors and range of brightness and body. They are reasonably priced so that you can afford to try coffee from many different regions.

Mexico produces one of the few common shelf brands of pre-ground coffee that makes a decent espresso, called Cafe Bustelo. Although not a remarkable coffee, it has a pleasant taste and is reckoned good for everyday use.

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Find Café Bustelo on Amazon! It’s easy to find!

Unfortunately, most of the best coffee is sold to European buyers and is particularly popular in Germany. Some of these are Santa Catarina, Germanis, Liquidambar and Irlandia. If you should ever see these beans or coffee, you will definitely be glad you gave them a try!

Although the United States is generally sold the less premium beans and coffee, Mexican beans are generally good quality with a taste that most people will want to enjoy every day. Have a look at these coffee products from Mexico that are available in the US.

What kind of coffee does Mexico produce?

Drinking high quality Mexican coffee is a little like enjoying a good, light white wine. The coffee has a light body with a dry, slightly acidic snap. Mexican coffees are often favorites among coffee drinkers who like their coffee black, because the taste is not so strong or acidic that it requires cream and sugar to hide the flavor.

Another reason for the enduring popularity of these coffee beans is their moderate price combined with the lighter bodied flavor of the brew. Coffee drinkers who are looking to explore the flavors imparted by regional differences will be particularly fond of Mexican beans, as the great diversity of the country gives notes that can be floral, fruity, chocolaty, and even slightly mossy depending on where the particular bean is grown. You’ll find a lot of varieties in Mexico coffee products.

How do you make Mexican coffee?

The beverage known as ‘Mexican coffee’ takes full advantage of the light flavor of Mexican coffee, and is a gourmet like creation that you can create in your own home. Begin by brewing your favorite Mexican beans, but add two teaspoons of cinnamon to the filter basket as you brew your coffee.

As the coffee brews, simmer one cup milk, one third cup chocolate syrup, and two tablespoons of brown sugar on the stovetop until the sugar disappears. Pour the mixture into cups filled with your cinnamon coffee combination along with a little bit of vanilla extract. You can top it with whipped cream and more cinnamon to make a coffee-shop worthy treat.

Mexican beans create the ideal cup for the coffee drinker who wants a smooth, light cup of coffee that doesn’t need anything to make it taste great. Be sure to try a cup of Mexican Coffee next time you have friends over, and you may not want to spend money at your local gourmet coffee shop ever again!

At PurelyCoffeeBeans, I’ve answered lots of questions over the years. You’ll find the questions and their answers scattered throughout the site! I’m always open to more questions, if you’re frustrated or curious, or you want to review a coffee, why don’t you drop me a line!

This week we welcome…!

Where can I buy Mexican coffee?
I’m looking for a particular kind of coffee!

by Shawn from Visiting Jaurez.

mexican coffee

“I recently took a quick trip to Jáurez Mexico and had the best coffee, in a hospital cafeteria of all places, but forgot to ask what brand of coffee they were using. What is the most popular/common coffee used around this area of Mexico?”

I’m sorry but I don’t know how I can answer this question without knowing more specifics. I’m not sure where you can buy Mexican coffee. You could find a few independent online coffee roasters stores in Mexico in this area, and search their catalogues (this would be easier if you speak or read Spanish). Do a few test orders until you come up with a blend that approximates what you remember.

Mexico grows their own coffee so you might find that it’s not a brand but a particular region or blend of local coffee. I suggest if you can try drinking some of the local Mexican coffee blends, freshly roasted: I’m sure you’ll find several you like.

Lastly, do remember that your memory may tweak the taste factor and it may enhance the flavors you recall especially if there were emotional factors at work as well. In other words, even if you find the same blend, will it taste the same the next time you try?


Good luck with your search, and let me know if you have any success. 


What are the different types of coffee beans, find out here!

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What’s the difference between roast, region & style? I don’t know coffee so I am suffering serious coffee confusion!

What’s the difference between roast, region & style?
I don’t know coffee so I am suffering serious coffee confusion!

do you know coffee?
Can’t identify this coffee?

“I can’t tell the difference …” or …is it considered dark-roast, medium, light, Colombian, French?” I just don’t know coffee!

Disclaimer: When you buy through a link on this site, I earn commission
from any qualifying purchases as I’m an Amazon Associate.

This query was added to a recent Reader’s Question. I already answered that question, but I thought I’d better spend some time sorting out the real coffee confusion for you. Hope this article helps you.

In the world of coffee, terminology abounds making it difficult for consumers to know what they are buying or if they are buying decent coffee at all.

Let’s see if I help you know coffee a little more clearly. I hope I shed a little light on your coffee buying!

Table of Contents: If you want to know coffee, you need to know –

What coffee beans are they? Where do they come from?

There are many varieties of coffee beans grown in the natural world, but in the coffee drinking world, only two types have become prominent: Arabica and Robusta.

In short, Arabica is your first preference because the coffee is smoother, lower in caffeine and generally makes a better cup of coffee. Typically, Colombia grows the best Arabica coffee beans you can find on the marketplace.

However, Robusta coffee has long had a bad rap. It’s true. And for the most part, it’s deserved unless you’re specifically buying quality robusta. For us, though, this is not usually an option.

So, focus on 100% Arabica beans, unless you like Espresso Coffee. There are some 100% Arabica espressos available, but most add a touch of robusta for body and flavor reasons.

If you know coffee, tell me what origin? A blend or single origin?

Many coffee connoisseurs love to talk about coffee origins. Coffee origin refers to where the coffee beans are grown, so you’ll find countries, like Brazil, Ethiopia, Kenya, Colombia, etc. 100% of the coffee growing regions are within the tropics. So you’ll never find coffee grown in, say, France or Italy.

Some countries like Colombia focus on growing primarily Arabica coffee, the one you prefer; while others grow a mix of Arabica & Robusta, such as Brazil, or Kenya. There are indeed some champagne quality Robusta beans, of a very high quality; but most of the Robusta crop goes to making instant coffee, 3-in-1 coffee, or cheap mass market blends.

If you buy a bag of ‘Latin American Coffee’, you can expect to see coffee beans from any of a number of different countries in Latin America, though most likely it’s a blend of Colombian and Brazilian coffee. And most likely, it’s Arabica (but check!)

If you buy a single origin coffee, you’ll note that the coffee beans usually come from a single region or location. No blending of other country beans are included, however the price may be higher than you’d otherwise expect.

What roast did you say?

The last confusing aspect is … roasting names.

You’ll often here names like French Roast, or Italian Roast; even city or regional names can be used, such as Verona. While these names may sound like the origins we already mentioned, they only refer to a style of roasting, not to the origin of the coffee beans themselves. After all, neither France nor Italy actually grow coffee beans.

While the term ‘French Roast’ may actually denote a style of roasting where beans are roasted very dark, other names may be less than candid about what is actually inside. In short, pay attention to what is actually inside, don’t be fooled by branding names or ‘fake’ names. The term Colombian may refer to beans from Colombia, South American Coffee refers generally to the entire region and whatever bean is grown there.

You’ll even find marketing names, terroir names (like farm, mill, and estate names), flavored coffee, the mystery (usually very romantic) house blends, as well as a whole range of organic and coffee for charity names. Most big brands offer a variety to suit most tastes, preparation methods, and even budgets!

How can I tell good coffee? Help is at hand…

There are good guidelines to help you know coffee and understand what to buy:

  • Don’t pay too little for your coffee, don’t try to buy the cheapest, don’t look for a bargain (there aren’t many due to the costs of processing coffee)!
  • If you do pay too little, you’ll only get cheap coffee beans (and probably unknown roasting date/process/region) and a bad taste in your mouth, because they add too many robusta coffee beans to the mix.
  • Also, be aware that if a particular roast emphasizes vague qualities instead of origin, roast, type of bean… you’ll be looking at a more typical brand.
  • Dark roasts are more often typical of cheap coffee, simply because the roasting process homogenizes the flavor profile so mixing cheaper beans won’t be noticed.

Where can I learn about coffee?

How can I tell good coffee from bad coffee?

So you’re buying coffee beans in the market or coffee shop? Can you really tell good coffee from bad? Well, Dillon Edwards from Parlor Coffee thinks he knows in this video.

how to tell good coffee

He should because he’s spent much of his life working as a barista from Nashville to New York City. He’s also worked for some of the most famous 3rd Wave Coffee shops in the US, like Blue Bottle, Stumptown, and Pulley Collective. His experience shouts his ability to tell good coffee from bad.

Disclaimer: When you buy through a link on this site, I earn commission
from any qualifying purchases as I’m an Amazon Associate.

You can find him working regularly in his roasting company in Brooklyn, New York where he strives for coffee perfection. So yes, he can tell good coffee. And lucky for us, he has made this video to introduce some of his insights into buying the perfect coffee beans.

Coffee Expert Shows How to Tell Good Coffee from Bad

In the video, Edwards gives us a clear explanation of:

  • coffee processing & preparation techniques,
  • coffee roasts (dark roast vs light roast),
  • coffee varietals and regional sources
  • tips on appreciating your coffee

1. Equipment Used

I won’t give you the answers. But his education covers all the basics that you need to know about making coffee in filter. His equipment choices include the Kalita Coffee Cone, Baratza Coffee Grinder, and the Bonavita Gooseneck Kettle.

Obviously, he is using an electronic scale to weigh accurately both the coffee and the water.

2. Techniques used to know coffee

Pay attention to how he pours the water, both the volume, spacing and technique as he soaks the coffee grounds. Learning this kind of technique will enhance the natural flavors of your coffee!

Watch his technique for understanding the flavor profile of each of the coffees, too. That use of extra air can help to determine flavors! Try it in your next cuppa before you add sugar or cream.

3. Knowledge Used

Understanding where your coffee comes from, know coffee and how it is processed, and the relative importance of the cost as related (indirectly) to the quality means that you will be able to buy and appreciate better quality coffee.

I leave you with his thoughts about ‘gas station coffee’:

If you go to a gas station when you’re on a road trip and you have a really piping hot gas station cup of coffee, you could probably get half of it down without noticing it. But as it cools off and it’s sitting in your cup holder, it’s gonna taste awful coffee”.

Dillon Edwards, Parlor Coffee, NYC.

Now do you know coffee?

So now if you know coffee terms like these, you can understand what French Roast Colombian Single Origin High Mountain Blend actually means! Now, perhaps you can banish thoughts like “I just don’t know coffee!” a little faster! Who knows!? You do!

Now you can learn a little more with one of my favorite books about coffee: The World Atlas of Coffee! It’s a wonderful introduction to the world of coffee.


What are the different types of coffee beans, find out here!

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What does Kenya coffee taste like? Where does it come from?

Kenya coffee is quite a bit different at least in the way the Kenyans conduct their coffee business. Most coffee producers in other countries grow their crops and take them to market to sell. This is part of what makes them a little different from other types of coffee beans.

Kenyan coffee waiting for sale
Kenyan coffee waiting for sale

What will I learn about Kenya Coffee blends?


You may be familiar with Kenyan coffee from your local coffee shop or coffee roaster. Kenyan coffee beans are high quality and totally worth trying. But don’t skimp on the price! Otherwise you may be disappointed by the blend. That’s how many of the African coffee blends find their way to your coffee cup.

Is Kenya Coffee Robusta or Arabica? Is it good?

In Kenya, lots are auctioned off to the highest bidder and sometimes the prices can be driven quite high! They can demand high prices because they are sticklers for quality control and their farmers are very precise in their agricultural methods.

What does Kenya coffee taste like?

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Picture of Kenya AA Cup of Coffee (c) PurelyCoffeeBeans.com

Coffee from Kenya is a very bright coffee. This is, it is acidic enough to affect your entire palate. The coffee has wonderful fruity flavors, sometimes with a touch of spice.

Some coffees are wine-like or fruity and some are bright and clean. Kenya’s rich volcanic soil and high mountains of East Africa give its coffee a flavor you can find nowhere else in the world.

Kenya coffee is graded according to strict standards. The grades are important because they indicate the size of the bean; a larger bean will have more of the oils that give coffee its flavor and aroma. Therefore, the highest grades are the largest and most delicious beans. From largest to smallest the grades are AA, AB, PB, C, E, TT and T.

Size is not the only factor used in grading coffee, however. The Kenya Coffee Board also sorts it according to classes based on the quality of the beans. It begins with 1 for the highest quality and goes to 10 for the lowest.

You probably won’t see this number on your package of beans but if you can buy from a retailer that knows the quality grade it is to your taste advantage to do so!

Because of these two rating systems, you could buy Kenya AA beans but get a poor batch because it was rated a 4 on the quality scale.

Research and Development

Kenya engages in a lot of research and development in an effort to produce the best coffee in the world. One of their discoveries has been Ruiru 11, a hybrid coffee that is resistant to disease.

It was considered a breakthrough when first discovered but the Coffee Board’s promotion of it has been marred by rumors of its inferior flavor characteristics. It remains to be seen whether Ruiru can live up to Kenya’s stringent standards for its coffee products.

How much does Kenya Coffee cost?

Coffee from Kenya, like that of many other countries, has price swings according to the country’s weather and political occurrences. In 2006, for example, there was a big shakeup in the local Coffee Board who had some members who were not making sure that financial incentives made it to the farmers.

In 2008 there was a drought whose intermittent rains forced the coffee plants to bloom at inappropriate times and subsequently most of the crop was lost. There are many circumstances that affect both the quality and the price of Kenya coffee.

Is it still worth buying coffee from Kenya?

Nevertheless, Kenyan coffee is a good buy at any price. That kind of flavor is well worth paying extra for if one has to!

Reader Query #1 (Updated 5/16)

“I’m looking for reasonably priced Kenya coffee, but where?”

by Myong from USA

“I am looking for reasonably priced Kenyan coffee. Could you help me to find one or more sources to get the delicious coffee. Costco don’t carry any more.”

Thank you for your query, Myong, to PurelyCoffeeBeans.com in which you wrote that you were missing a discontinued line of coffee beans from Costco Wholesale.

I have the same problem with Costco as more & more customer buy those (wretched) one cup systems, Costco’s range of coffee beans seems to grow ever smaller. I can’t find some that I used to love. Pity.

The other odd thing about your email was that I bought some lovely Kenyan AA a couple of weeks ago, freshly roasted from an Artisan roaster here. They weren’t particularly cheap, but well worth the price, I feel. I’ve also enjoyed some nice Kenyan from Gloria Jeans Coffee (pictured above).


But I’ve never seen any in Costco, I’m sure I’d have bought it by now, but I do know product ranges differ from region to region, store to store, and season to season.

If you would like, check out my links to Amazon.com, who have a decent range of coffee beans generally.

Best Wishes
Kenneth

@ PurelyCoffeeBeans.com


What are the different types of coffee beans, find out here!

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What are Robusta coffee beans? Is Robusta coffee even good?

Robusta coffee, as PurelyCoffeeBeans knows, is the best known coffee you’ve never heard of. Robusta coffee beans are used in a variety of coffee products: including Indian coffee, Vietnamese coffee, and perhaps the most famous of all, Italian espresso.

Robusta coffee beans
Robusta coffee beans

Robusta has a truly awful reputation … but is that the entire story? Read on for more…

What will I learn about Robusta Coffee Beans?

I thought Robusta was junk… so why should I care?

Are you buying Robusta coffee?

Reader’s Questions

Is Robusta coffee even good?

Robusta coffee beans
Robusta coffee beans

While Arabica coffee beans are milder, lower in caffeine, and more expensive, Robusta coffee beans are a popular alternative for many kinds of coffee beans worldwide, especially in Africa or Asia.

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They came originally from Africa, but can now be found planted in the lower lying areas of both South America and many parts of Asia, such as Vietnam and Indonesia.

The Robusta beans tend to still have a bad reputation for cheapness and quality, and that is an undeserved one. For example, you will find quality Robusta coffees in many coffee blends, esp. the best espresso beans for its flavor, no less. Or so argues Oliver Schwaner-Albright in the article entitled ‘Robusta Economy‘ in the New York Times on March 23rd, 2009.

Where do Robusta Beans come from? What are its origins?

Discovered in the former Belgian Congo by botanists, they were first properly described only about 100 years after Arabica. They grow indigenously all over Western and Central Africa.

Nowadays, though, the Robusta coffee47 beans are cultivated in many areas of the world because of their relative ease of cultivation: they do need more water and warmth. But they can grow at much lower elevations; the robusta beans are also produced in much greater quantities; and they are resistant to more pests and disease making it less expensive for farmers to grow.

Robusta coffee beans are harvested from Robusta shrubs or small trees that can grow up to thirty feet high. Although they don’t require as much maintenance as Arabica plants, they do need pruning to keep harvesting at manageable levels for growers and pickers. There are upright Robusta trees as well as spreading (Nganda) varieties.

Which is better? Arabica Beans vs. Robusta Beans?

While Arabica plants are finicky about their growing conditions, Robusta can grow 600-2000 feet above sea level and is much more tolerant of variations in temperature. This hardy plant yields more beans per acre than Arabica and produces its first crop only 2-4 years after planting.

Other differences between the beans that coffee drinkers may wish to remember include:

1. Caffeine Content:

The Caffeine content is much higher in Robusta Beans, perhaps explaining why it’s more resistant to pests, at about 1.7~4.0%. Arabica coffee beans may contain up to 1/2 that amount.

2. Shape:

The beans are shaped differently, too. Robusta beans tend to be smaller in size, and rounder or more oval. Arabica beans are larger and seem more elongated. In appearance, they are pale green in color with a brownish tinge. So they’re easy to spot!

3. Flavors:

Robusta beans contain only half the sugar and about 2/3rds of the lipids than their cousin, the Arabica. This variation may account for the differences in roasting both beans, as well as the perceptions of acidity.

The taste of coffee made from Robusta coffee beans has been described as grainy, harsh and musty; the lack of body is noticeable compared to Arabica coffee beans.

So how can I tell Robusta coffee beans?

Apart from inspecting the beans yourself (impossible if it’s ground or in your cup already!), you may find that Robusta is grown in Nigeria, Uganda, Sri Lanka, Sumatra, Bali, Vietnam, Java, Angola, and India.

If you see these countries listed on the bag or can of coffee or beans you are considering, the beans or ground coffee may include Robusta Coffee Beans. But you will find that Brazil Coffee also contains robusta beans.

One obvious giveaway, of course, is the price. If your chosen coffee is relatively inexpensive, and the origins are not listed, or the brand is a typical supermarket brand, you can assume that the coffee beans include Robusta. Look for clues: the origins, the price, percentages of Arabica beans, the flavors, etc.

Which coffee brands use Robusta beans? Instant Coffees or Classy Coffees?

Robusta Coffee Beans are usually used to make instant coffee because it is less expensive. It an also be found in many generic (store brand) coffee blends, just browse your typical coffee brands, and you will know.

Vietnamese Sweet Robusta coffee beans dream
Vietnamese Sweet Robusta coffee beans dream!

With twice the caffeine of Arabica beans, it’s great at waking a person up if flavor isn’t important! That extra kick of caffeine is what helps open my eyes in the morning! Perhaps it’s why my bag of Arabica beans, while lighter in flavor, tends to have less of a kick than its darker roasted, and cheaper ‘espresso blends’.

And yet, many fine European blends also include Robusta Coffee Beans. Who, I hear you say? Well, the Italians and the French. Surprised?

So is that Robusta coffee in my cappuccino?

The Italians began using high quality Robusta beans in their espressos because of its ability to hold the crema head on a cup of espresso.

It also adds body to the flavor, and provides an additional kick for their morning espresso shot or cappuccino is considered an additional benefit. Typical Italian espresso blends may include up to 15% Robusta beans for coffee drinkers.

While the French can add up to 70% Robusta coffee beans to their blends to make their cafe au laits. That might be why we tend to see the French Roasts as darker coffees with more body.

What are the best robusta coffee beans to buy and try?


Robusta coffee beans then, it turns out, are more than just Arabica’s poor country cousin. In fact, they’re consumed all over the world, are a mainstay for many coffee farmers, and provide a great finish for some of the finest blends in the world!

#1 – Is Robusta Coffee good even at that price?
Does my favorite coffee brand include Robusta?

by Quora Question from UK

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At PurelyCoffeeBeans, I’ve answered lots of questions over the years. You’ll find the questions and their answers scattered throughout the site! I’m always open to more questions, if you’re frustrated or curious, or you want to review a coffee, why don’t you drop me a line!

This week we welcome…!

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I was looking at the canister of my favorite coffee brand, one that I purchase regularly. I was wondering if Robusta coffee is included because it tastes slightly bitter now. Is Robusta coffee good? Can you help?

Thank you

Robusta Coffee is often added to espresso because it tends to have a higher caffeine content than Arabica beans. Its flavor also is a little more bitter. Of course, the coffee beans price is cheaper which is why it’s (over-)used in a lot of commercial coffee. So if you don’t see the contents as stating “100% Arabica”, there’s a high probability that it includes Robusta Coffee Beans.

Is Robusta Coffee good? Doesn’t it taste like crap?

In fact, there is some very good Robusta coffee, but you won’t often see them in commercial brands. Italians still make espresso with a percentage of Robusta, to give it an edge & a kick.

I really think the only way to know is it the packet/can/bag says “100% Arabica”. And if it’s instant coffee, I’d expect to see Robusta in there, as a given. So check the canister you bought and see if there are any clues.

There are also variations in the beans, the drying, the blending & the roasting that will cause some variation in the flavor profile, esp. if you’re buying from individual regions or origins and/or from a small roaster. So for your average cheap coffee, few drinkers will find Robusta good or palatable.

Why do coffee companies include Robusta coffee?

The big companies like Starbucks do a much better job of maintaining their standard of roast, but it could be that roasting too long does tend to even out the flavor differences between beans and produce a more general ‘coffee’ flavor.

This could be because of a coffee beans price increase or increase in the roaster’s costs, the coffee may include cheaper coffee beans (either Robusta or Arabica) that exhibit more bitterness. You’d have to tell me the actual brand & blend to know, though.

Recently, a major coffee company in Taiwan was found to be tampering with their 100% Arabica coffee by adulterating the coffee with Robusta Coffee Beans instead. So it really pays to check your coffee beans, that their coffee beans are what you paid for. Unfortunately, for consumers, it’s really hard to verify the coffee beans price without doing a full DNA analysis of the coffee you buy. Check out the other informative answers on Quora.

Consider These Robusta Coffee Purchases


Hope that helps.

Kenneth

#2 – How can I tell if my coffee has a lot of caffeine or not?

by Coffee with a Kick

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I’m looking for a coffee with more caffeine, I like the effects of the stronger coffee! But how can I tell?

Thank you

Dear Coffee with a Kick

What is “caffeine content of coffee”? How much do you need? Would you like more?

You’re looking for a coffee with a higher caffeine content than you may typically find in Arabica based coffees, is that correct? You may wish to refer to my page for information about the caffeine in coffee page.

In general, Robusta beans are considered the poor cousin of the coffee bean, because they tend to have a much poorer taste, perhaps even making coffee unpalatable. However, it is widely grown, and consumed, and is found in many coffees, esp. cheaper instant coffees. They are used in coffees when the coffee roaster needs either a cheaper product or a stronger coffee.

Robusta Coffee: Death Wish Ground Coffee

If you’re looking for coffee with more than a dash of Robusta beans in it, then Death Wish Coffee may be the best bean for you!  This coffee is USDA Certified Organic and Fairtrade (!) which suggests that the roasters do care about the beans they put in those black bags!

The signature roasts provide a caffeine boost, a noticeably bold body and flavor. They’re ideal for your drip coffee maker coming pre-ground, though you may need to follow their specific directions for making the coffee.

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Check Price of Death Wish Coffee on Amazon

Why we liked it!

  • An extra caffeine kick – consume with care!
  • Not a hint of bitterness, but smooth with a bold body
  • Roasted in upstate New York
  • Pleasant notes of cherry & chocolate

What we didn’t like

  • Not clear on packaging how much caffeine!
  • Some buyers were ‘underwhelmed’!

Quote: “A lot of the pre-packaged, freeze-dryed, instant or pre-ground coffee found in grocery stores are of the Robusta variety. Because they are of a lower quality stock, companies like Folgers and Maxwell House can afford to buy huge quantities of this coffee and sell it at a much lower price. Due to the lower quality of these beans they are roasted far beyond the peak point giving the coffee and burnt, sour, bitter taste.

While I cannot give you a definitive answer about percentages of robusta beans in coffees, (most manufacturers prefer to boast the percentage of Arabica beans!) or which coffees may contain more caffeine, you could try different espresso or italian style roasts (some of which make good french press coffee, too), or you could simply add more coffee to the coffee maker. Try doubling up on the amount of coffee you use, since most coffee drinkers tend to follow general guidelines that result in a weaker brew. This works as long as the amount doesn’t overaccentuate other tones, such as bitterness or acid tones in the coffee.

Oddly enough, you may wish to try some of the espresso roasts which are darker roasted as these will typically include a percentage of robusta beans, and perhaps more caffeine to provide a European type ‘kick’ to the morning cuppa. Few coffee companies display the amount of caffeine per 100g on the side of packets, which would certainly help you. My last suggestion: go to a coffee roaster or serious coffee lover’s coffee shop, and just ask. They may be able to direct you to specific blends/estates/regions that present a coffee more suitable to your requirements.

A final thought: Both Vietnam and India grow quite a lot of coffee, usually robusta beans, so you may wish to try those blends. However, as I said, robusta is usually blended with better tasting coffee to tone down the roughness and caffeine content, so it’s difficult to find a purely robusta coffee. Amazon’s search did throw up a few good suggestions, but no clue on the actual caffeine content, click if you want to see the results.

#3 – Which coffee beans are strongest? Which is the strongest coffee?

by Rob from Chicago, IL.

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We are having a debate about coffee beans and how much caffeine in a cup of coffee. Can you tell me which coffee beans are strongest?

Thank you

Hi Rob,

PurelyCoffeeBeans wonders if you are asking about specific beans, I can tell you that there are 2 specific types of coffee beans, Robusta and Arabica, commonly used in coffee these days.

While the robusta coffee bean has far more caffeine in it, once it is roasted and brewed, the flavor can be quite bitter tasting. So it’s typically used in coffee that requires a ‘kick’ such as espresso. In Asia, there are varieties of coffee made with Robusta, as well. But the refined flavors you’re used to drinking in Central or Southern American varietals are missing!

The typical coffee beans you will find for home coffee making is the Arabica coffee bean. Arabica coffee beans are primarily grown in higher altitudes, and in shadier regions than their Robusta coffee bean cousin.

This is partly because of the climate where they are grown, and because the Arabica bean grows somewhat slower, the end result from bean to cup is a more pleasant tasting coffee, but with as much as 60% less caffeine per cup.

You can find some good blends out there that have some of each type of coffee bean in the mix, but for taste and quality the preferred coffee bean is the Arabica.

Have you tried ‘Death Wish Coffee‘? This brand of coffee supposedly has quite a bit of caffeine, is darker roasted, and has attracted quite a few loyal fans! What kind of ‘strong’ coffee are you drinking these days?

Thanks for asking!

Chris


What are the different types of coffee beans, find out here!

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5 Awesome Arabica Coffee Beans to Crave Before You Die!

If, like PurelyCoffeeBeans knows, you are a dedicated coffee drinker, you’ll certainly know about Arabica coffee beans, they’re in almost every cup of coffee you drink!

arabica-coffee-beans

Coffee Drinkers of the World place considerable importance on just this one humble variety of coffee beans, the Arabica coffee beans.

While there are other varieties of coffee available worldwide, most coffee drinkers prefer their coffee to be made from Arabica coffee beans. And for good reason: it’s lower in caffeine and more refined in taste than most Robusta coffee beans.

Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I earn commission from any qualifying purchases.

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These days, to satisfy palates in all parts of the world, Arabica coffee beans are grown in as diverse parts of the world as Indonesia, South America and the Carribbean. In fact, they now account for over three quarters of the coffee drunk throughout the world.

What will I learn about Arabica coffee beans?

Readers also asked me

Keep reading!

What is the best coffee in the world?

Though Arabica coffee beans come from very humble origins, its development into one of the premium coffees would surprise those shepherds long long ago. It has come a long way since its discovery and early cultivation in Yemen to the palates of Coffee Lovers like you and me!

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Coffee in a Yemeni market [(c)Carpetblogger on Flickr & CC licensed ]
However, Yemenis seem to prefer to make their coffee in the Turkish or Greek style. One interesting twist Yemenis make and one I’ve got to try: adding some cardamom or ground ginger (which is very popular).

Where do Arabica coffee beans come from? From Yemen to the World!

Arabica coffee beans are believed to be the first coffee ever grown. It seems that they have been cultivated in parts of the Arabian peninsula for hundreds, even thousands of years. In fact, the plant still grows wild in Ethiopia.

But it is best grown in the higher elevations and mountains of the tropical regions which is why some of the coffee names already familiar to you include the rockier parts of the world: Blue Mountain, Java, …

Are Arabica beans the best? Coffea Arabica, take a bow!

Let me introduce Coffea arabica. The Coffea arabica is a humble plant in many ways. In the wild, you may see the coffee plants grow to between ten and fifteen feet tall (3 ~ 5 meters). The plant is covered in large leaves. You will also notice the pretty flowers that seem to just spill out like cream from these plants. These lush flowers will produce the coffee beans that eventually end up in our coffee cups.

So Coffee Arabica plants prefer the growing conditions of places like Indonesia because its soil is enriched by volcanic activity, and Africa because the mountains offer a higher altitude away from the heat and direct sun of the plains. In fact, they prefer shaded environments provided by mountains slopes, taller trees and bigger plants so that they can mature slowly.

The plant itself is vulnerable to a number of environmental problems: including disease, pests, and (at higher altitudes) frosts. All of these make harvesting more tricky and more prone to variations in quantity, quality and availability. This, of course, contributes to the higher prices paid for Arabica beans.

Arabica Coffee Popular Selections @ Amazon


Is coffee a fruit? Well… It grows from flowers which produce cherries

The coffee plants need about from two to four years to grow after they are planted before they produce their scented white flowers. But coffee farmers need to be wary in case the flowers open on a sunny day. The plants may produce too many coffee cherries, and that isn’t what farmers would like to see. Why?

CoffeeArabicaCherryCloseup_thumb

If Arabica coffee plants overproduce in one season, then in subsequent seasons, even if planting conditions aren’t so good, the coffee plant will try to repeat that feat to the point that the health of the plant itself may be harmed.

So coffee farmers carefully prune the Arabica coffee plants to restrict the number of cherries it produces and keep the plant vibrant and sustainable.

Once the cherries start to ripen, you will see how the color varies from purple to even red. Maturation needs nearly 7 years even in the humid tropical warmth. Depending on where the beans are grown, harvesting may take place once a year (in Brazil) or continuously (in Java).

One surprising fact: have you ever wondered why coffee plantations are so huge? That’s because an Arabica tree can sometimes only produce as little as one (yes, one!) pound of coffee per year.

It takes five to six hundred pounds of coffee beans to produce just one hundred pounds of coffee! So you’re typical 2lb bag could be the result of two coffee trees annual growth!

How is Arabica coffee harvested and processed?

The coffee cherries are carefully selected and picked from the shrubs.. They are then graded and dried, usually under the sun (where practical).

Colombian_Coffee_FarmerWhen you first pick freshly picked Arabica coffee beans, you probably couldn’t even tell that it is a coffee bean! It’s still encased in the hardened shell and protected by the husk. To start the process, the husk is removed then the coffee beans begin their processing. This will remove the outer layers of fruit pulp and protective inner skins (called the silver skin & the parchment).

Once you see the bean, you would be surprised by its shape and color, and also by appearance of two beans inside the fruit. The Peaberry is a type of coffee where you will find only one bean, and so many coffee drinkers value this type of coffee. Typically, they look a pale greenish in color, and not at all appetizing.

After hulling, they are dried out in a number of ways before being graded, sorted, packed and shipped to the coffee roasting companies. There the coffee beans are roasted and resorted into different products before packaging and distribution.

arabica_coffee_beans_2

Are all coffee beans Arabica? No, they’re not!

So many people love Arabica Coffee Beans, but it’s easy to be fooled! For a long time, we’ve been drinking stuff that looks like coffee: it’s black, hot and caffeinated. But when you buy coffee in the restaurant, or coffee shop or grocery store, you may be surprised to know that it is probably not made solely from Arabica coffee beans. Robusta beans are usually added though they have higher levels of caffeine and taste more unpleasant, even harsh.

Even the better coffee brands are often diluted with last season’s Arabica coffee beans to lighten the taste and make the coffee more appealing. Don’t be surprised then when you have tried Arabica coffee that you find yourself having to turn down the coffee available in the local convenience store, grocery store, or gas station!

You’re not a coffee snob! Because once you have tasted fresh Arabica coffee, your taste buds become keenly aware of the difference. It’s really hard to go back to instant coffee then!

References

Serious Eats, “Around the Caffeinated World: Yemen” @  http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2011/09/around-the-caffeinated-world-coffee-from-yemen.html checked by Meister.

Food.com “Qishr – Yemeni Ginger Coffee Recipe” @ http://www.food.com/recipe/qishr-yemeni-ginger-coffee-288851 by Um Safia.

At PurelyCoffeeBeans, I’ve answered lots of questions over the years. You’ll find the questions and their answers scattered throughout the site! I’m always open to more questions, if you’re frustrated or curious, or you want to review a coffee, why don’t you drop me a line!

This week we welcome…!

How many pounds of Arabica coffee beans are harvested each year?
by Tiffany (Los Angeles)

I know that peaberries account for approximately 5% of the total harvest, however, how much is the total harvest? To find out an exact number I would like to know how many arabica beans are harvested per year OR how many beans are harvested in a single origin coffee plantation a year? Also, if an exact number (not a percentage) has already been found for peaberry production, that will do too!

Thank you!

Dear Tiffany,

I think you might be able to figure out how many beans per ton… but arabica beans vary in size/weight. I don’t think anyone counts coffee by the number of beans! Usually by weight.

Wikipedia cites 10.2 million metric tons of coffee production for 2018. So you can get a start on that number. The ICO (International Coffee Organisation) keeps a record here.

Bean Counter

Arabica Unusual Selections @ Amazon


Are Arabica coffee beans healthy?
by Concerned Coffee Drinker (U.K.)

Personally, I have never drunk coffee because it was good for me! I wouldn’t encourage you to, either. However, there is a growing body of debate and evidence that drinking coffee has some health benefits: lower incidence of certain types of cancer, reduced oral cavities, prevention of some types of heart problems.

I do suspect that doctors and scientists will argue the pros and cons of drinking quality coffee for years to come, so I wouldn’t want to preclude their health conclusions. In short, I cannot recommend coffee as a health food.

But if you like coffee, you may be pleased to know that there are some attendant benefits. It should also be noted that these benefits only seemed to be present in those drinking more than a couple of cups of coffee a day (that’s me! – he said excitedly).

Thank you!


What are the different types of coffee beans, find out here!

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What 6 types of coffee beans can you buy today?

Explore the different types of coffee beans & brands

PurelyCoffeeBeans loves the colors of the coffee cherries. They make them look much more like children’s candies that the familiar browns that we seen in most roast coffee! But what types of coffee beans can we buy?

Credit: Rodrigo Flores on Unsplash

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What can I learn about different types of coffee beans? Table of Contents

Click to read each ‘chapter’ of the story!

  1. What are the different types of coffee beans?
  2. What are the differences between Arabica vs. Robusta?

What are the different types of coffee beans from North & South America?

  1. What coffee is grown in Central America?
  2. Does coffee grow in the Caribbean? Find out which!
  3. Where does coffee come from in Latin and South America?

What types of coffee beans can you find in Asia, Africa or Arabia?

  1. What coffee is grown in Asia? What coffee grows in the Pacific Islands?
  2. What is Kopi Luwak? Why is it so expensive?
  3. Where do African & Arabian coffees come from?

How do I tell roasting for different types of beans?

  1. What is the difference between coffee roasts?
  2. Recommended Reading

What are the different types of coffee beans?

But the diversity of colors represents one of the most amazing facts about coffee – over 50 coffee producing countries produce in excess of 120,000kg (264,000lbs!) of coffee annually each! Brazil annually produces 7.7 billion lbs (or 3.5 billion kgs of coffee), all bagged in 60kg bags.

Moreover, the types of coffee beans we love come in a variety of sizes, shapes, varietals, origins and processing methods! Each variety, type, origin, and processing method combine to shape the particular flavors that we know as coffee!

On this page, I’ll describe the different types of coffee beans that you can find from around the world. And you can take advantage of this tremendous variety by paying attention to the different coffee beans you buy!

Check off the ones you’ve tried, write down the ones you’d like to try, and keep some notes for the next time you go to the supermarket or coffee shop. It’s sure to make a much easier trip to buy coffee beans next time! You can also read more about what is the best coffee bean as well as how to choose a bag of the best coffee beans to take home.

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Types of Coffee Beans: Origin, Varieties and Regions

Actually, this is a bit of misnomer – the coffee bean is actually two (or sometimes three!) beans or seeds that are contained in the ripened ‘cherry’. Occasionally, you will even find one bean only in a coffee pod! They’re often referred to as ‘peaberries’. You can see how the previous picture illustrates the ripened coffee cherry from the plant, prior to harvesting. Now compare that with the more familiar image below!

Types of Coffee Beans Darkly Roasted
Credit: PurelyCoffeeBeans.com

These beans are then removed, cleaned, dried in one of several methods, sorted according to quality and roasted carefully before making whole bean coffee or ground coffee brand.

Where do coffee beans come from?

types of coffee beans already for picking

While there are only two basic types of coffee beans used for the majority of modern coffee, the robusta and the Arabica bean, the growing conditions, locations, and methods actually mean that there is quite a variety of beans available from around the world.

However, these regional variations can be broken down to four basic regions (see below for more details about each region).

Let’s take a look at the different types of coffee beans and which regions they are grown in.

What are the differences betweeen Arabica vs. Robusta?

Arabica Coffee Beans are more difficult to grow, but produce better coffees overall. The Arabica coffee beans make Latin American Coffee, as well as coffee in East Africa, Arabia, or even Africa. They are generally considered the champagnes of coffee, for their unique terroir, careful growing, and flavor profiles.

Whereas the Robusta Coffee beans are grown at lower heights and are generally easier to cultivate. You will find they are mostly grown in West or Central Africa, in South East Asia, and in parts of Brazil. Unfortunately, Robusta doesn’t have as good a reputation as other types of coffee beans, partly that’s due to cost, but also the poorer standards of care in growth, cleaning and packaging have made Robusta the poor man’s coffee of choice.

There are a few other types of coffee beans, but none are as common as the Arabica or Robusta. You’ll be unlikely to ever drink them in your coffee! FYI, they’re called the Coffea Liberica and Coffea Excelsa and they are grown in Asia and parts of Africa.

Country by Country

I’ll be adding more pages describing the unique characteristics of each coffee, so do check back and make a bookmark of this page.

‘r’ represents the regions where the Robusta bean is grown, while ‘a’ shows the areas where the Arabica is grown. ‘m’ represents mixed areas.

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What coffee is grown in Central America?

Starting off with Central Americas and the Caribbean, you’ll find that many of the republics there grow their own coffee beans. Not only that, though, some of the islands in the Caribbean have their own distinctive varieties of coffee.From Central American coffee to Caribbean coffee, you’ll find great coffee drinking from some of the most expensive and/or delicious coffee beans in the world.

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Central America also produces some fine Central American beans, and some not so fine. Some names may already be familiar to you, especially Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Mexico. But how about El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Ecuador?

Costa Rica in particular is famous among Central American coffees for its full bodied, robustly rich coffee mostly grown around the capital, San Jose. The four most famous coffees are named after the districts they’re grown in — Alajuela, Heredia, San Marcos de Tarrazu, and lastly, Tres Rios. Altitude determines flavor in this country with the best beans growing above 3900 feet.

Guatemala also has some very distinctively flavored coffees. Its central highlands are 4500 feet above sea level, ideal for growing beans with a rich, spicy/smoky flavor. They have a mild and pleasing acidity and medium to full body.

While Mexico produces pleasant, rather ordinary beans that are grown in the mountains of the south. They make a pleasant, flavorful cup of coffee ideal for everyday drinking. When ground for espresso, most Mexican coffee beans make a mildly acidic and very flavorful cup.

You’ll also find wonderful coffees from

  • Belize
  • El Salvador
  • Honduras
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama

Samples of Central American Coffee from Amazon


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Does coffee grow in the Caribbean? Find out which Coffees of the Caribbean are The Tastes of the Islands

Cuba, Haiti, and Jamaica all cultivate coffee, too; as do many of the smaller islands, like Antigua. But volumes are lower, and prices higher.

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The premium beans that constitute Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee which is grown at between 3~5,000 feet are graded into one of five lots. These beans are quite mild in flavor, nor are they bitter.

Because of their scarcity and top quality, prices can be quite expensive. Meaning that the bag of ‘blue mountain coffee’ on your shelf is, at best, a blend of other South American coffee beans.

Cuba is famous for its specialty ‘Cuban coffee’, a blend of espresso and sugar that makes a variety of great tasting drinks, but cultivates coffee beans that aren’t available in the US markets at the moment.

In fact, Cuba has a long history of growing but in recent years, there has been in decline in production, exports and quality since the revolution.

In Haiti, it’s a similar story. But coffee has been cultivated here since at least 1730’s. Though the early days of the cultivation exploited slaves and fomented revolution in Haiti, coffee is still grown in Haiti to this day.

In recent years, Haitian Bleu has tried to recreate the quality and fame of Haiti’s early coffee days. With a rich and slightly sweet flavor, it’s not particularly strong or acidic, yet carries a stronger flavor than say Columbian.

We’ll also look at the Dominican Republic, Antigua, St. Lucia, Puerto Rico, and a few of the other smaller islands. I’ll also include St. Helena in there, even though it’s not a Caribbean island by any stretch of the imagination! So check out the coffee from the Caribbean, you’ll be amazed!

Samples from the Coffee Islands from Amazon


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Where does coffee come from in Latin America?

Home To Many Types of Coffee Beans

Latin American beans generally comprise coffee from South America, Central America and the Caribbean islands such as Jamaica and Haiti. All of these areas are well known for their mountainous slopes and volcanic soils where coffee farms flourish. And the new craze for organic coffee has benefited these countries significantly.

Latin American coffee can be generally characterized by a light body, medium to sharp acidity and a distinctive bright flavor. They are considered by many connoisseurs to be some of the best coffee you can buy. In South America, the most well-known coffee producer is Brazil; but there are quite a few others with the right conditions for producing coffee of good quality. You will soon be enjoying:

  • Colombian Coffee* from Colombia
  • Bolivian Coffee
  • Brazil Coffee, esp. the Santos is perhaps the most famous.
  • Ecuador
  • Peruvian Coffee
  • Venezuela Coffee
  • Perhaps even Chile, Paraguay, Guyana, and Easter Island.

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Fine Latin American coffee is available to the adventurous coffee drinker from every corner of the continent.

In fact, Latin America offers many wonderful opportunities if you are looking to buy gourmet coffee beans, from Central American republics, such as Costa Rica or Guatemala; from the Caribbean Islands of Jamaica; or from South American Coffee Kings of Colombia or Brazil.

If you’ve looked into the coffee jar on the shelf, or the bag of coffee beans in the cupboard, you’ll likely see that some (or most?) of the beans come from this region of the world. And it’s home to arguably the best coffee beans in the whole world.

South America: Top Quality Coffees

South America boasts great Latin American coffee growing areas, including Columbia, Brazil, Venezuela, Peru and Bolivia. The first two names on the list are well known, but after them some other countries also offer delicious and less well-known beans that are worth trying, if you can find them!

Columbia or Colombia? It’s all about the coffee!

Most Americans are more familiar with Columbian coffee because of that part of the industry’s intensive media campaign over the years. Columbian beans generally make coffee with a full body, rich flavor and medium acidity.

From the time the trees are planted to when Colombian coffee beans are harvested, there are extensive processing steps and intensive standards. These resulting coffee beans have become recognized throughout the world for the sheer quality.

But there are many, many more regions that grow fine and flavorful Latin American coffee but are less well known than Columbia.

Brazil Blends: Harmony and Flair

Brazil grows many remarkable coffees but the topnotch Bourbon Santos we reckon is its finest offering. Picked in the first four years of growth, the beans are small but full of smooth, rich and moderately acidic flavor.

While Bourbon Santos is the coffee preferred by commercial buyers, there are several other estates that produce superb Brazil coffee. Your taste buds may find the crops of other estates better than Santos; each of us is different so be adventurous and try offerings from several areas.

Venezuela Blends

Venezuela is known for its low acid coffee that is perfect for blends. This is not to say it’s bad coffee — on the contrary, its light richness and bold body makes it complementary for custom blends. Meridas is considered the best coffee in this Latin American country.

Bolivia Brews

Bolivia produces heavy-bodied, spicy coffee that is quite extraordinary. The beans are grown mostly on small farms that are more than a mile above sea level on steeply pitched slopes. The organic coffee industry is big in Bolivia.

And Peru, too

Peru is another big South American coffee producer, notable for its Chanchamayo mild and light brew that exudes both coffee flavors and aromas. You will often find it used to provide a base coffee selection for other more flavor intense coffees and is blended with darker roasted coffee beans.

In this expansive and detailed (eventually!) look at Coffees from Latin America, we’ll definitely come back and add other regions to list of Latin American coffee producing countries. So come on back! Your seat at the counter will be kept just for you!

Samples of South American Coffee


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Where do African & Arabian coffees come from?

With a name like Coffea Arabica, it’s not difficult to imagine where the coffee bean originated, the Middle East, specifically, Ethiopia. African Coffee has been cultivated there for over 1,000 years, and its consumption in some form may dates back even further. You have 30 seconds. How many African coffee growing countries can you name? … Time up! Answer at the bottom!

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The answer: Many of the finest African coffee beans in the world come from Ethiopia and Kenya in the East to Rwanda where top quality Arabica beans are cultivated to West African countries including Senegal and Cameroon where robusta coffee beans are mostly grown.

To be fair, coffee beans grow in many places throughout central Africa, both farmed and wild. We’ll take a look at some of these places.

Harrar, Ghimbi and Yirgacheffe – The Coffees of Ethiopia

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Shade Grown Coffee in Uganda

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kenya-aa-cup-of-coffee Kenya: Small Cooperatives

(image: Gloria Jeans’ Kenya Roast Coffee)

Kenya coffee has a distinctly bright acidity and is sweet with a dry wine aftertaste. Their best has a black-currant flavor and aroma. Auctions are held in Nairobi each Tuesday  during the harvest season, leading to price wars for the best crops.

Most are produced by small cooperatives instead of large estates, wet-processed and graded by size of the bean. Kenyan coffee is acidic (possessing bright notes) and  brightens the palate. Depending on which farm it came from it has a berry or citrus flavor alternating sometimes with spice. Some are bright and clean while others have the  wine-like flavor.

 Kenya has produced a disease resistant hybrid called Ruiru 11 but it lacks some of the best flavor characteristics of the traditional coffee and is considered low grade. They  are still developing this bean, hoping to make it as good as the natural crop.

Tanzania, Malawi and others

Tanzanian is similar to Kenyan but lacks its consistency and quality. Most is grown on Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Meru, is wet-processed and graded using the same letter system as the rest of African coffee. A good Tanzania batch will be bright and aggressive in flavor.

Unfortunately, coffee sent from Tanzania can be inconsistent; the beans “steam” in shipping containers on the way to port. This is called “aging”. Depending on the length and conditions of the journey, one batch might be very disappointing or mediocre while another might be excellent.

Malawi is a small country between Mozambique and Zambia in southeastern Africa. Its coffee is smooth and full bodied, a real treat to the palate. Very little of it reaches the Western hemisphere so if you see some you should seize the opportunity to taste it. You’ll note that it is softer and more floral in the style of East Africa and is sweet, delicate and bright.

Many other countries produce coffee beans in Africa, but whether due to crop sizes, bean quality, economic conditions, export restrictions, etc. we don’t usually see much of it work its way into our cafes. Pay attention to Burundi, Congo, and Zimbabwe (if they ever fix their economy!).

Keep a lookout for African coffee in your market!

Still, it’s worth keeping an eye out for if you’re interested in single bean varieties of African coffee. Otherwise you might find that it’s included as multi-varietal or even some of the multi-region blends that you already drink. More’s the pity.

Now the answer!

However, there are so many types of coffee beans grown in a number of places in both Africa and Arabia, including:

  • Ethiopia Coffee (where it all started!)
  • Kenya Coffee
  • Rwanda Coffee
  • Madagascar
  • Malawi
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Yemen Coffee

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Samples of Coffee Products from Africa and Arabia


What coffee is grown in Asia? What coffee grows in the Pacific Islands?

With high mountains in many tropical and semi-tropical areas, you’d guess that the many types of coffee beans grow really well in Asia Pacific and you’d be right.

Grown and consumed in many Asian countries, coffee has become a very popular, if distinctive, alternative to tea. From Indonesia to Hawaii, each country has developed a unique take on coffee as its population has taken up the habit.

  • Hawaiian Kona Coffee
  • Indonesian coffee beans: for its Java coffee, Sumatra Coffee, and the regions of Bali, Flores, Sulawesi, and Timor
  • Indian coffee: Mysore or Monsoon beans
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Vietnam
  • even Australia grows its own!

Asian Coffee: Sumatra, Java and a whole lot more

We don’t normally think of Asian coffee, instead believing that much of Asia comprises tea-drinking nations, steeped in tradition and ceremony. But I was surprised on reading that World Atlas notes three of the top ten coffee producing nations are located in Asia: India (#7), Indonesia(#4), and Vietnam(2).

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There are a number of other countries that also produce large crops of Asian Coffee, including Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Togo, Philippines, and even China grows a little coffee. So it seems that coffee beans from Asia are not just coming, … they’re already here! They are making their presence felt in the coffee cups of the entire world.

Today, we will look at the top four producers of Asian Coffee. Many parts of the Asian world are very choosy about their coffee and have, arguably, the best coffee shops in the world. There are also many farms that grow beans famous for their light acidity, full body, delicious aroma and earthy flavor.

Low acid, dark roasts

In general you will find that Asian Coffee is low in acidity with bold, strong body. These coffee beans are popular with people who love coffee and habitually drink it black to get every bit of flavor from it.

The roasts are usually dark to very dark and the flavors are very different from other parts of the world—powerful and robust with a smooth, earthy tone and yet some impart a sweet and flowery essence that is difficult to describe but incredibly delectable.

So let’s take a look at some of the Asian coffee producing countries. The Arabica coffee bean trees flourish in most of Southeast Asia because of the perfect combination of heat, humidity, rainfall and rich, fertile soil.

Indonesia

It’s hard to miss the importance of Indonesia these days as a coffee producing country. It was placed as the fourth largest producer in the world. And you’ll find the Indonesian beans making their way into the hearts of coffee lovers everywhere.

Indonesian Coffee Cherries

The beans produced in Sumatra and Java are perhaps the best known, but you can add many other regions to the list, including Sulawesi. So what makes these regions the darlings of sensitive coffee drinkers worldwide? Well…

The flavor, acidity, aroma and level of caffeine are influenced by several factors. Soil conditions are important and the rich, volcanic soil of Indonesia is particularly friendly to coffee trees.

Elevation, of course, affects the beans and so does the amount of shade or sunlight that they get. The method of harvesting, processing and how the beans are roasted also contribute to the body, flavor and aroma of the coffee.

Most people are already well familiar with two of the names on the Indonesian list: Sumatra and Java. You can easily find these coffees in your local roasters.  But there are a couple more that may interest, even surprise, you:

Sumatra coffee offers drinkers a notable body and rich coffee. Perhaps you’ll be able to detect hints of chocolate-rich flavors in your cup, too. It’s those factors that keep Sumatra a popular bean with lots of appeal.

Java coffee also grows perhaps the most exquisite Arabica beans at very high elevations, making picking difficult, to say the least! You can try some of the wet-processed coffee beans that originate from the former Dutch estates. These embody the delicious fragrance and flavors of top quality Indonesian coffee.

The last of the triumvirate of Indonesian coffee is Sulawesi known for a low-acidity coffee with a well-developed body. You’ll find these beans in popular specialist stores nationwide, even if you can’t find it in the supermarket.

And even Bali coffee grows, picks and sells their own coffee beans. The growing conditions in Bali favor a milder coffee with a lighter body, too.

India

India is a major Asian coffee producing nation, though most of the coffee is used for its internal consumption. Occasionally, you’ll see a specialty coffee though in limited quantities. Unique in its cultivation of coffee, India grows almost all of its coffee under shade. These coffee are mild with reasonable acidity levels, a full-bodied taste and a delicious aroma.

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While the majority of its coffee is Robusta, Arabica beans are also cultivated in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Robusta is grown in both of these states, and also in Kerala State. While India is currently (2010) Asia’s largest coffee exporter and sells most of its coffee crop abroad, somehow only a small amount goes to the US.

India has some unique coffees because of the way the beans are aged, fermented and processed before roasting. But for international drinkers, there are some rare beans grown and harvesting in the gold mining region in the southwest part of the country called Mysore Gold Nugget beans, smooth light body flavor and taste.

One of the most popular ways to drink Indian coffee is known as the Indian filter coffee method. This is created from mixing Indian coffee beans with chicory just prior to making the coffee.

The device appears similar to a Moka Pot but it is much stronger, and is often drunk in diluted form with hot milk (similar to Latte) with added sugar. The coffee appears frothy by virtue of the unique pouring technique. Check out my post on the Indian coffee.

Papua New Guinea

Lying right next to Indonesia is Papua New Guinea (PNG) which is a much more recent entrant to the Asian coffee market. Most coffee grown in PNG is tens of thousands of small, village coffee gardens which producing 70% of the nations exported crop.

These farmers tend to grow organically certified beans. But quality can be erratic at times, and perhaps that’s why they don’t travel well and often arrive in Europe and North America in less than optimal condition. But when the beans are in top condition, they are excellent with deep and vibrant tones.

The remainder of the crop is produced by estate coffee farmers which use modern techniques for processing the crop. The estates do manage to produce more consistent beans and can be rated from ‘pleasant’ to ‘outstanding’. Somehow, they manage to make their way to the North American market where their quality is appreciated and priced accordingly.

Look for beans from Sigri which are from the Western Highlands Province. There are estate coffees also from the Eastern Highlands Province. We’d love to see all coffee beans from PNG reach these standards, and the local Coffee Boards are working hard to improve standards.

Vietnam

Lastly, we’ll look at Asian Coffee from Vietnam which is a drip filter type preparation, introduced by the French and adapted by the Vietnamese to their own recipes. The effects of the Vietnam war devastated much of the economy, including the Coffee industry.

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But cultivation is restarting, and the flurry of new restaurants in other parts of Asia is helping popularize the Vietnamese way of drinking coffee. The grounds usually quite coarse are placed in a simple metal filter. And hot water is poured over the grounds.

The coffee drips slowly into the bottom of the cup where there is condensed milk (the Vietnamese solution to tropical temperatures!) to sweeten and add milk. This is all done at your table.

Typically, the coffee used is medium roasted, ground coarsely and locally grown. The main bean grown here is the Robusta from the South, which is a suitable choice because it’s relatively easier to grow. There is interested in cultivating Arabica beans in the North, too. I’ll be looking forward to trying some of the Arabica blends that they grow in the future.

Other Places

There are other Indonesian islands that regularly produce coffee beans, including Timor, New Caledonia, but you will also find coffee from the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and even Australia. So Asian coffee is surprisingly diverse, but largely unrecognized in the West for both its variety and its quality. Go look in your local coffee emporium for some of the finer blends available.

PrintWand Coffee Infographic

Ever hear of Kopi Luwak? At upwards to $600 per pound, Kopi Luwak is one of the most expensive coffees in the world—and it’s made from an animal’s feces. Kopi Luwak is made by feeding ripe coffee beans to a palm civet (a mammal that lives in southern Asia). The creature’s leavings are later processed into a pricey variety of coffee with a unique taste.

That’s just one of the facts you’ll find in this coffee infographic from PrintWand. It explores a wide range of details about coffee — including its origin, its diverse varieties, and the ways that people drink it. Read on to learn things about your favorite beverage that you never even thought to consider.

For technical reasons, I’ve split it into a gallery. But…

You can view the full infographic here (it’s large!)

I can’t promise you’ll always like the either Asian flavors of coffee or Asian methods of making coffee, some of them are too sweet for my taste buds! But you will find that they can adapt to popular preparation methods in the US and Europe! It is well worth seeking out some beans and treating yourself to some unforgettable coffee!

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Samples of Coffee from Asia Pacific


What is the difference between coffee roasts?

To all intents and purposes, the different types of coffee beans you are buying are all roasted, not green. If you’re just buying coffee beans for the first time, you’ll likely be confused by the different coffee roasts available on the market.

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Credit: nousnou iwasaki on Unsplash

In general, you can break the levels of roasted coffee beans into four broad categories (pictured from left to right; top to bottom)

  • light roast,
  • medium roast,
  • dark roast, and
  • double roasts.

Each of the roasts provides both a different color of coffee bean, a different flavor, and a different kind of coffee in your cup. It’s important that you understand both how coffee is roasted and what kind of roasted coffee bean you prefer when you buy. Why?

Because if you buy a roast that you don’t like, such as the recent Rwandan Coffee that I loved, but my colleagues didn’t… you’ll have a whole bag of coffee to deal with. – DON’T tell me you threw it away!

Light Roasted Coffee Beans

Though there are four different basic roasts, it’s quite likely you’re most familiar with the light roast such as cinnamon roast, half city roast which larger coffee retailers usually use. You may also see the words ‘city roast’  or ‘New England’ roast. In fact, this is a very popular roasting grade in the US marketplace, so popular coffee brands tend to roast to this level.

If you look at the roasted coffee, you will see that the surface looks dry not oily, and the flavor will be lighter with more of the flavor of the actual coffee beans themselves. Without that roast flavor, it may not be suitable for drinks with lots of milk, such as lattes.

Acidity levels tend to be higher, too. This roast level also suits beans Kona or Java or even Blue Mountain beans because it retains the character flavors of the beans themselves. Lighter roasts also tend to be more popular in America.

The Medium Roasted Coffee Bean

A medium roast means that the beans have been roasted a little longer and at a higher temperature than light roast. This offers drinkers much more of a body and can be found in blends like your morning breakfast blend or American-style or even some regular coffees.

You’ll also see terms used like ‘Full City’, ‘American’, ‘regular’, ‘breakfast’ or even ‘brown roast’. This is a level of roasting that many specialty sellers seem to use more, so you’ll see many brands that pronounce themselves as ‘medium roast’. There is a range of tolerance for this, so you may find that some coffee beans are a different shade, perhaps darker or lighter than you’re used to.

The surface of the bean will still look dry, though the flavor may seem ‘sweeter’ with a more noticeable body and complexity in the cup. I have used the term ‘smooth’ to describe some of my favorite medium roast Colombian coffee, such as Millstone Coffee.

The Dark Roasted Coffee Bean

A dark roast takes the roasting a further stage as oils rise up, drinkers will notice more body and a stronger aroma from the roasting process rather than the beans.

This is typically roasted to the ‘second cracking’, and provides a much heavier body and feel. You may characterize it as ‘strong’ (though that has nothing to do with the amount of caffeine) or even spicy.

Other terms used to describe this include ‘full roast’, and you will find that it is typically associated with roasts like Italian or Espresso Roast, Viennese or Continental Roast.

In the roasting process, the surface of the roasted coffee bean will begin to show a lightly shiny or oily surface. It has a pronounced ‘sheen’. These are the oils being released from the coffee bean which help to flavor the coffee.

The Final Stage: The Double Roast

The French Roast is the final stage of roasting and is often referred to as a double roast. You’ll notice it by its smoky flavor and intense flavor. The original flavor of the beans may be absent totally. Perhaps this roast is used in blends where inferior beans are combined with better quality beans.

In the roasting process, you may even see smoke from the beans because the sugars in the beans are beginning to turn to carbon. The surface of the bean becomes very oily; and flavors tend to be intense, even overpowering to some coffee drinkers. Even experienced coffee experts may have difficulty isolating the properties of the original beans in these roasts.

Tips After Roasting

After the roasting process is stopped, the beans are typically cooled gently and many machines allow for the agitation of the beans to prevent heat building up inside and continuing the roasting process.

Once cooled, the roasted coffee bean will emit a significant amount of carbon dioxide, and its best flavors aren’t immediately available. You will need a little patience if you are roasting at home.

For those purchasing coffee in the stores, make sure that the types of coffee beans you are buying have been properly packed (either in unripped vacuum packs or with pressure relief valves in the bag).

One final point to note: …

if you want to buy freshly roasted coffee, the flavor will deteriorate so you’ll need to buy beans that have been roasted not too long ago or too far away to get the best flavors. Good coffee bean storage will help, but it doesn’t stop the rapid deterioration of flavors once peak quality has been reached.

There are types of coffee beans from other areas outside of the areas mentioned here, so if I missed one that you particularly like, drop me a line! I’d also love to hear from you, if you think that some of my selections from Amazon didn’t suit you, even though hundreds or thousands of people have given their own reviews! I’d love to hear what was wrong with the products you bought!

Now last pop quiz question: What two types of coffee beans did we omit?

Answer: Liberica and Excelsa coffee beans (we’ll cover those soon)!

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Signature of PurelyCoffeeBeans in calligraphic brush style