Coffee Beans: What Type Should you Choose?

The two main types of coffee beans are the Arabica and the Robusta beans. These grow in many regions between the Topic of Cancer to the North and the Tropic of Capicorn below the equator (the higher quality grades of coffee are grown at higher altitudes). There are over 80 coffee producing countries, with Brazil being the leading one.

If you speak to a true coffee lover, he or she would say the Arabica bean is the superior coffee bean. Generally it is the choice used in gourmet or specialty coffees. The Arabica bean produces a rich flavor and a full body sought in a good cup of coffee. However, this comes at a cost: the Arabica bean is difficult to grow. It is prone to disease and requires more hand cultivation. For these reasons, the Arabic bean yields smaller harvest per acre and is more expensive to produce.

The Robusta bean does not have the rich flavor and full body as that of the Arabica bean. The Robusta bean, however, is a very hardy species, yielding high harvests and proving resistant to disease. Also, the caffeine content in the Robusta bean is about two times less than in the Arabica bean. Many companies will blend a small amount of Arabica with a large amount of Robusta.

In order to get the best extraction for your coffee enjoyment, grinding the coffee beans properly is the key. Freshly grinding the coffee prior to brewing is one of the most important steps to a great cup of coffee. Just remember, the coffee beans should not be ground more than two minutes prior to the beginning of brewing.

There are two main types of coffee grinders on the market today, namely the burr grinder and the blade grinder. The blade grinder has a single blade that looks and spins like a propeller. The blade grinders do not have settings - so the longer you grind, the finer the grind becomes. Blade grinders are fine for drip coffee makers, but for espresso or other coffee drinks that require very specific grinds, the blade grinder would not be recommended since it does not grind consistently.

The burr grinder has either flat burrs or conical burrs. The coffee beans are drawn between the two burrs and the beans are crushed into a uniform size. The burr grinders do have settings and an exact coarseness or fineness of grind may be selected. This is why the burr grinders are highly recommended for espresso, but can also be used for other types of grinds as well.

Each brewing method requires that the coffee bean of a specific grind size. The following is a general guideline describing the basic grind requirement for use in coffee makers:

Coarse grind: This grind would be used in a percolator, a Neapolitan, or a stovetop espresso coffee pot.

Medium-Course grind: This grind would be used in a French press or metal coffee maker with gold or stainless steel filters.

Medium grind: This grind would be used in drip coffee makers.

Fine grind: This grind would be used in the espresso machines.

Extra fine grind: This grind would be used in vacuum pots or some older Espresso machines.

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