First fact: coffee is NOT all the same. Besides the beans variety, coffee varies according to climate, altitude, type of soil and roasting type… Confused?
The type of beanThere are two main varieties of coffee beans, each one used for different purposes according its features:
- Arabica – this type of coffee was first produced in Ethiopia and Yemen, but it's now spread across the world. It is also claimed to be the first type of coffee ever seeded and produced by humankind. Arabica coffee has a better overall quality and is the one that we most commonly drink. You can find some good quality Arabica coffee here.
- Robusta – has its origins in Africa; nowadays it is grown primarily in Brazil, Vietnam and Africa. This type of beans is more resistant and can be grown at any elevation – so normally, to make it cheaper, it is grown at sea level. It has twice the caffeine as Arabica coffee, which better protects it from insects. Since it doesn't taste as good as Arabica, Robusta coffee is mostly used for instant coffee, canned coffee grounds and blends.
The geographic location
Okay, there are only two types of coffee beans, but there are infinite types of coffee. Why? Because besides the beans' variety, you have to consider the region where the coffee beans have been grown. This is due to the fact that climate, altitude and soil type confer the beans very different flavors. For some examples, check the map at the bottom.
Roasting coffee is the process that produces the characteristic flavor of coffee, during which the green coffee beans become darker and brown, due to a series of chemical reactions. The longer the beans are exposed to the process, the darker they get, losing some of their original features and gaining some others. There are four major categories: light, medium, medium-dark and dark-roasted. Here is an infographic to help explain it better:
So whether you like sweeter coffee or more acidic, and whether you prefer a hint of chocolate or a subtle flavor of caramel, there certainly is a coffee that is perfect for you: have you already discovered it?