Last updated: August 7, 2021

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You are a fragrant coffee lover and like the full-bodied taste of fresh coffee? Then coffee beans are just the thing for you. Because the best coffee is made from freshly ground coffee beans. But what are the different types and which coffee beans are the best?

In our coffee bean test 2021 we show you the best and tastiest products in the various categories in detail. We also give you detailed information and list the advantages and disadvantages of different types. Whether you are interested in Arabica, Robusta, Liberica or Kopi Luwak, you will find the best coffee beans on the market.




Summary

  • A basic distinction is made between two types of coffee beans: Arabica beans and Robusta beans.
  • In addition to the selection of coffee beans, the degree of roasting is also decisive for the taste of the coffee. Here, a rough distinction is made between light and dark roasting.
  • The correct storage of coffee beans is particularly important. It is best to store them protected from light and other odours.

The Best Coffee Beans: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying coffee beans

What types of coffee beans are there?

Generally, coffee beans are divided into Arabica and Robusta. The Arabica bean comes from the Ethiopian highlands and is therefore also called mountain coffee. It is greenish-brown, elongated and has a closed slit. Its taste is defined as light and sweetish, which comes from the good integration of acids. The Robusta bean is different.

It comes from the lowlands of Southeast Asia and West Africa and its taste is described as earthy to woody.

Weiße Tasse mit Bohnen

There are over forty different types of coffee. The best known are the Arabica and Robustica varieties. The quality of the beans is determined, among other things, by the criteria of origin and roasting. (Photo: Couleur / pixabay.com)

Their caffeine content of two to four percent is twice as high as that of the Arabica bean. The visual difference between Arabica and Robusta: Arabica beans are larger, flatter and more oval. Robusta beans are smaller and more rounded.

The indentation of the Arabica bean is gently curved, while that of the Robusta bean is straight. Basically, most coffee bean blends consist of Arabica beans. However, Arabica beans and Robusta beans are mixed in a ratio of 80:20 to obtain a higher coffee content and a more intense aroma. The 80:20 blend is classically found in mostly Italian espresso machines. Filter machines do not have a standardised ratio.

What are the quality characteristics of coffee beans?

High-quality coffee beans can be recognised by their appearance, the farm of origin and the earliest possible roasting date.

Did you know that the fresh coffee fruit has a red or dark yellow colour? The coffee plant comes from tropical countries or Africa, Central America and Asia. The coffee beans themselves are the seeds of the coffee berries, which are almost as big as a cherry.

A first characteristic to determine the quality of the coffee bean is its appearance. Shiny coffee beans are a sign that the coffee bean is losing oils and thus aromas. In addition, good beans are about the same size and not burnt.

Furthermore, a good bean has a clearly declared farm of origin, whereby one can generally assume that the bean was traded fairly. In addition to roasting, a high-quality bean also has a roasting date, because this is when the bean begins to lose its aromas and this should not be more than about a fortnight ago.

Where can I buy coffee beans?

Coffee beans are available almost everywhere. Ideally, they should be bought locally so that they can be obtained shortly after roasting. However, coffee beans can of course also be purchased online, from retailers or specialist shops.

How much do coffee beans cost?

Coffee beans come in different price ranges. The price is influenced not only by the farm of origin, but also by the roasting and type of bean, or the mixing ratio of the Arabica and Robusta bean types. In addition, the seller of the coffee beans is often decisive for the price. In general, you can buy good coffee beans in a specialist shop from twenty euros upwards. The following table is intended primarily as a price guide:

Quality Price
Low from 4 euros
Medium from 10 euros
High from 20 euros

Decision: What types of coffee beans are there and which are the right ones for you?

Basically, you can distinguish between four different types of coffee beans:

  • Arabica
  • Robusta
  • Liberica
  • Kopi Luwak

In the following section, we would like to introduce you to the four different coffee beans in more detail to help you make your purchase decision. In addition, we will present the special features and the resulting advantages and disadvantages of the individual varieties.

What are the special features of the Arabica bean and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The Arabica bean from the highlands is one of the world's best-selling coffee varieties. You can recognise the popular coffee bean by its oval shape and S-shaped seam. The Arabica has a unique aroma and an acidic, fruity and smooth taste.

The low caffeine content makes it digestible and easy on the stomach. However, the coffee variety cannot be grown everywhere due to climatic conditions. The complex cultivation of the Arabica bean, however, justifies the high price.

Advantages
  • Varied aroma
  • Soft taste
  • Easy on the stomach
Disadvantages
  • Complex cultivation affects the high price

What are the special features of the Robusta bean and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The Robusta coffee bean grows on the plains. It is particularly resistant to climatic conditions and numerous pests. The coffee bean can therefore be grown almost anywhere. The Robusta is roundish and smaller than the Arabica bean. You can recognise it by its straight seam. Do you belong to the group of people who need a real pick-me-up in the morning?

The high caffeine content of the coffee beans gives you the kick you need. The aroma of Robusta is tart and bitter, similar to chocolate. The beans are roasted for a very long time to get the full flavour. Nevertheless, this type of coffee should be enjoyed with caution. High consumption is unhealthy and leads to an increased heart rate and sweating. In addition, the high chlorogenic acid content is difficult to digest. That is why Robusta is usually always mixed with Arabica to achieve a balanced taste.

Advantages
  • High caffeine content
  • Cheaper than Arabica beans
Disadvantages
  • Leads to a feeling of intolerance

What are the special features of the Liberica bean and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The Liberica coffee variety is hard to find due to its small share of the world market. The reasons for this are, on the one hand, its long ripening period of up to 14 months and, on the other hand, its unusual aroma.

Compared to Arabica and Robusta beans, it is low in acidity and contains less sugar. The Liberica coffee variety is not recommended pure, as the taste is very tart and intense. With its high caffeine content, it is more suitable as a blending ingredient for preparing other types of coffee. This way you can enhance the taste of your coffee.

Advantages
  • Suitable as a blending ingredient to intensify the flavour of coffee
Disadvantages
  • The coffee is undrinkable on its own
  • low market share

What are the special features of Kopi Luwak and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Kopi Luwak, also known as cat coffee, belongs to the upper class of coffee varieties. Its extraction and low market share make it the most expensive type of coffee in the world. How is the coffee bean, which originates in South and Southeast Asia, extracted? The luwak, a creeping cat species, eats and digests the coffee cherries.

It cannot process the cherry beans and excretes them again. The digestive juices give the coffee beans an extraordinary aroma and give them a mild taste reminiscent of chocolate. Not only do you pay a high price for the premium coffee, but in many cases the sneak cats do too. Kopi Luwak is therefore very controversial. Many producers keep the creeping cats in cages and fatten their animals with coffee cherries in order to make the highest possible profit. Therefore, when buying, it is important to make sure that the production did not take place under cruel conditions. To be on the safe side, you can refrain from buying. The unbalanced diet leads to the death of many luwaks. Therefore, when buying coffee beans, make sure that they are certified with the label "From Wild Harvest". This way you can be sure that the animals are treated in a species-appropriate way.

Advantages
  • Unique taste
  • Exceptional production process
Disadvantages
  • Very expensive
  • Risk of animal cruelty

Buying criteria: You can compare and evaluate coffee beans based on these factors

The choice of coffee beans, which determines the taste, is a very subjective decision. To help you with this, we have put together criteria that you can use to better compare coffee beans so that you can find the right coffee beans for your perfect coffee lighter. The criteria we have chosen are:

  • Roasting / degree of roasting / aroma
  • Bean selection by coffee / coffee classics
  • Quantity of coffee beans
  • Grinding the coffee beans

Roast/Grade/Aroma

Basically, a distinction is made between light and dark roasting, whereby the darker the bean, the lower the quality of the bean. The decisive factor for the roasting is the duration and temperature of the roasting. There are two so-called temperature limits - also called cracks. These are 200-200°C and 224-226°C. Furthermore, the aroma depends on the degree of roasting.

Kaffeetasse, Kaffeebohnen auf Jute

Depending on your personal preference, one or the other coffee is more suitable for you. Depending on the type and degree of roasting, the amount of acidity and bitterness can vary. (Photo: arifarca / pixabay.com)

The different degrees of roasting and which aroma they produce are described as follows:

Light Roast

The light roast includes Cinnamon Roast, which produces a light brown hue with accentuated acidity and takes place close to the first crack. As well as the New England Roast, which produces more complex acids and a light light brown hue.

Medium Roast

The medium brown of the American Roast takes place at the time of the first crack, creating a sweeter character than the Light Roast. In the City Roast, the acidity is clearly noticeable and the bean also takes on a medium brown tone.

Dark / Full Roast

With the dark roast, a distinction is made between Full City Roast, Vienna Roast, French Roast and Italian Roast. Full City Roast and French Roast have a medium to dark brown colouring of the bean, as well as a shiny surface and the emergence of the roasted aromas.

The Vienna Roast is similar in that, like the sweet chocolate aroma of the French Roast, caramel notes appear alongside the roasted aromas. Here, the beans are a shiny, intense dark brown. In the Italian Roast, the coffee bean is an intense dark brown with pronounced aromas and barely pronounced acids.

Selecting coffee beans according to coffee classics

Which bean is suitable for preparing which coffee speciality is often a question of roasting. Traditionally, coffee beans with a darker roast are chosen for the preparation of espresso. However, you can also buy special espresso beans, but here, too, the difference basically lies in the roasting.

Espresso beans are roasted for 15 to 18 minutes, while coffee beans are roasted for 10 to 15 minutes, so that they can be used to make coffee. The longer roasting reduces acids and emphasises the roasted aroma. For the preparation of cappuccino, on the other hand, a blend of Arabica and Robusta coffee beans is recommended.

In addition to the roasting, the composition of the blend is also decisive for the taste. Pure Abrabica blends create a rather soft taste, while a blend with Robusta beans produces a spicy aroma with a full-bodied taste. The spicy flavour of the Robusta beans in particular harmonises ideally with the milk foam to create a perfect aroma.

Meanwhile, for the preparation of latte macchiato, a pure blend of 100% Arabica beans is recommended to create a light and smooth taste in combination with milk foam.

Quantity

How many coffee beans you should buy always depends on how much you consume. But also on how strongly you drink your coffee. Because the stronger the coffee, the more beans you use.

Rote Kaffeetasse mit Kaffeebohnen auf Steinplatte

Some beans are best suited to a particular way of making coffee. Most beans are used to make coffee. Some confectioners coat the beans with chocolate, while coffee charcoal is still used in medicine. (Photo: Christoph / pixabay.com)

If you consume an average of 6 g of coffee beans, you can produce about 150 to 160 cups.

Grinding coffee beans

There are different ways to grind coffee beans. There are manual or electric grinders, as well as some unconventional ways using household items such as a rolling pin. Many fully automatic coffee machines have an integrated grinder. Many of them also allow you to manually adjust the grind.

However, it is important to note that you should not use beans with a Spanish or Torrefacto roast with such a grinder, as these are caramelised with sugar and can damage the grinder in the long term.

Facts worth knowing about coffee beans

What are the largest coffee-growing regions in the world?

Coffee beans are grown almost all over the world, but there are some countries and numerous regions where a particularly large amount of coffee is grown. To give you an overview, we have clearly presented the eight largest coffee-growing regions.

Country Description Taste
Brazil With over 270,000 coffee farms, Brazil is the world's largest exporter of coffee. Highland coffees are typical of Brazil, but so are Santo and Bourbon Santo coffee beans. 80 percent of the beans from Brazil are Arabicas Brazilian coffee beans are characterised by a rather mild, sweetish taste. They have a rather low acidity. Coffees from Brazil tend to be balanced and full-bodied.
Vietnam Vietnam is the most important exporter of Robusta coffee beans. Coffee in Vietnam is grown especially in the highlands coffee from Vietnam is characterised by a nutty and chocolate aroma with slightly woody undertones. Vietnamese coffee beans have a strong body.
Indonesia The volcanic soil in Indonesia is particularly fertile and nutritious. Well-known cultivation regions are Sulawesi, Papua, Java and Sumatra Coffee from Indonesia has a low acid content. The beans are reminiscent of grass or earth, and green pepper or herbs may also be recognisable.
Colombia What is special about Colombian coffee is that the harvest takes place twice a year Colombia's Arabica beans are considered to be of particularly high quality. Dark nutty or chocolate notes are typical of their taste.
Ethiopia Ethiopia is considered the country of origin of coffee. The three regions are Sidamo, Harar and Yingacheffe coffee from Ethiopia is extremely aromatic. Floral or even fruity notes are also typical.
India Coffee is grown especially in the south of India Beans from India have a spicy, complex aroma. Tart woody notes can also be detected.
Mexico Mexico is known for its "Rut del Cafe", the coffee street. Mexico is known for its organic cultivation Mexican coffee delivers tart, spicy flavours.
Honduras There are three well-known coffee regions in Honduras: Copán, Montecillos and Agelte. Coffee from Honduras is very broadly positioned and delivers a wide range of flavours from mild to spicy coffees.

How do you store coffee beans properly?

Coffee beans are particularly fragile and therefore require special storage. That is why they are best stored as whole beans, protected from sunlight and moisture. You should also avoid storing coffee beans in glass or transparent containers.

Coffee beans also absorb aroma as quickly as they release it. Therefore, coffee beans should not be stored in the refrigerator and, if it can be avoided, in plastic boxes, as these often have their own odours. It is therefore best to keep the coffee beans in their packaging and store them in a light-protected place with moderate temperatures.

What is Kopi Luwak?

Kopi Luwak refers exclusively to coffee cherries that are eaten and excreted by a certain species of creeping cat. The origin of Kopi Luwak is Indonesia and the islands of Sumatra, Java and Sulawesi. The quality of the coffee beans does not remain constant, but is influenced by the type of bean eaten, the length of time it lies on the forest floor, the rainfall and the drying process.

You can buy Kopi Luwak directly from the producers for less than 50 euros. In Europe, however, the coffee beans in raw form are traded for 100 euros and the roasted beans from 220 euros per kilogram.

Picture credits: Alexas_Fotos / pixabay.com

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