How to Choose Between the Many Types of Coffee Beans

how to choose between the many types of coffee beans

For many Australians, coffee is an integral part of their daily routine, providing a much-needed dose of energy and a delightful sensory experience. Behind every great cup of coffee lies the key ingredient: coffee beans. However, with the myriad of options available, choosing the right coffee beans can seem almost impossible.

Understanding Coffee Beans

Coffee beans are the seeds of the Coffea plant, which are roasted and ground to create the beverage we know and love. While there are over 120 species of Coffea, the two most commercially important ones are Coffea arabica and Coffea robusta.

  1. Coffea Arabica: Known for its superior quality and delicate flavor, Coffea arabica accounts for approximately 60-70% of the world’s coffee production. Arabica beans are grown at higher altitudes, which imparts a more nuanced taste profile with notes of sweetness, acidity, and a wide range of flavours like chocolate, fruit, and floral undertones. They generally have lower caffeine content compared to robusta beans, making them a popular choice for those seeking a more refined coffee experience.
  2. Coffea Robusta: Coffea robusta, as the name suggests, is known for its hardiness and high caffeine content. It thrives at lower altitudes and is more resistant to diseases and pests. Robusta beans have a stronger, more bitter taste and a nutty or woody aroma. They are often used in blends or for making espresso, providing a rich crema and a fuller-bodied, intense flavour.

Choosing Between Coffee Beans

Now that we have a basic understanding of the two main types of coffee beans, here are some factors to consider when making your selection:

  1. Flavour Preferences: First, identify the flavour profile you enjoy most in a cup of coffee. If you appreciate a well-rounded, aromatic brew with subtle nuances, opt for arabica beans. On the other hand, if you prefer a bold, strong flavour and higher caffeine content, robusta beans might be more suitable.
  2. Brewing Method: Next, consider the brewing method you use most frequently. Arabica beans are versatile and work well with various brewing methods, such as pour-over, French press, or drip machines. Robusta beans, with their higher caffeine content and more robust flavour, are often favoured for espresso or in blends for an extra kick.
  3. Roast Levels: Coffee beans come in different roast levels, ranging from light to dark. Lighter roasts preserve the bean’s inherent flavours and acidity, while darker roasts have a richer, more caramelized taste. Arabica beans are often preferred for lighter roasts, allowing the nuances to shine, while robusta beans can handle darker roasts and still retain their distinct flavour.
  4. Source and Quality: Furthermore, you’ll need to consider the origin and quality of the beans. Single-origin beans, sourced from a specific region, can offer unique flavour profiles that reflect their terroir. Look for reputable coffee roasters and consider their sourcing practices, such as fair trade or organic certifications, to ensure the quality and sustainability of the beans.
  5. Experimentation: Don’t be afraid to explore and experiment with different types of coffee beans. Try small batches from various regions, blends, and roasts to discover your personal preferences. Keep notes on the flavours, aromas, and brewing methods you enjoy the most, allowing you to refine your choices over time. There’s a whole world of flavours out there – don’t just stick to one if you’ve never experimented.

When it comes to selecting the perfect coffee beans, understanding the differences between arabica and robusta is crucial. Once you start to experiment, you’ll soon learn the flavours and profiles you like the most. Explore lots of coffee beans and buy online at to keep a good supply at home and work!


Mick Pacholli

Mick created TAGG - The Alternative Gig Guide in 1979 with Helmut Katterl, the world's first real Street Magazine. He had been involved with his fathers publishing business, Toorak Times and associated publications since 1972.  Mick was also involved in Melbourne's music scene for a number of years opening venues, discovering and managing bands and providing information and support for the industry. Mick has also created a number of local festivals and is involved in not for profit and supporting local charities.        

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