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Types of Coffee Beans and Coffee Flavours

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A man roasting coffee beans in an iron skillet. The different variety of coffee beans impact flavour, this blog on Bean Merchant's website talks about how.

Coffee beans, they’re not all created equal. So what are the different types of coffee beans, and what are their characteristics? Today we’re going to dive into the three types of beans, and what makes them unique.

Types of Coffee Bean Plants:

There are three types of coffee bean plants; Arabica, Robusta, and Liberica, with Arabica being the most widely cultivated.


Arabica beans are the most widely cultivated coffee plant in the world, with 60% of the worlds coffee supply consisting of Arabica trees. This tree is typically grown at high altitudes, all over the world and is easily influenced by its environment. It’s also highly prone to disease, meaning farmers need to be careful with their crops. Arabica beans usually produce coffee with a bright body and multi-layered, intricate flavours.


Robusta is the next most common type of coffee plant grown in the world. Tolerant of its environment and immune to most diseases it’s much easier to grow than its more common counterpart. It does however require a hot environment with relatively irregular rainfall. Robusta beans usually have low acidity, but higher amounts of bitterness in the cup. They have a heavier body than Arabica beans and usually have a smooth texture. They produce chocolate hints in their flavour profile. Susceptible to poor growing practices, if you are purchasing Robusta coffee beans it’s important that you know how your beans were farmed.


Liberica coffee beans are the least well-known of the three, and the least grown throughout the world. The beans are larger than the other two counterparts and are usually an irregular, asymmetrical shape. In your coffee made from Liberica beans, you’ll enjoy unique fruity and smokey aromas and tastes. A full body will mean it has a thick cream-like mouth feel.

What do different kinds of coffee plants mean for coffee beans in NZ?

You’ll find that most of the best coffee beans roasted in New Zealand are from Arabica plants, with perhaps a few half and half arabica-robusta. Our Fair Trade and Organic stance on Coffee beans mean that the poor growing practices around Robusta don’t match with a lot of New Zealand’s coffee roasters’ ideals. If you enjoy fruity flavours and a light mouth feel in your coffee, Arabica is the one you want to stick with. If you’re headed down the road of a smokey, or creamy taste, then you might want to try one of the other two.

There are many different aspects to choosing the right coffee for you though, and the type of beans is just one of them. If you’d like some help finding the best coffee for you, our quiz will ask you a few questions to create a taste profile, and then match you with different coffees that suit your tastes from around New Zealand.



Get matched to coffee beans from NZ's best roasters.

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