Coffee beans guide: Coffee Bean Types and Their Characteristics

Coffee beans are the starting point for espresso, ristretto, cortado, americano, latte, cappuccino, mocha, frapé, Irish coffee and any other type of coffee you can think of.

Coffee beans guide

If you are interested in having all the information about the types of coffee that exist in the world, from the most popular to the most exotic, be sure to visit this article.

Coffee seeds are obtained from the fruit of the coffee plant. This plant can reach a height of 10 meters if left in its natural state, but coffee trees for commercial cultivation usually measure up to 3 meters in height.

The coffee plant is native to Ethiopia and Yemen. The history of how this coffee plant came to spread to the whole world, and thus also coffee as the infusion we know today, is very curious and full of mysteries and legends. To learn about the origin and history of coffee, you can read this article that we recommend.

The coffee plant needs to live in special climatic conditions in order to grow. In particular, it requires very humid places with stable temperatures. For this reason, it is very possible to find coffee plant in high and mountainous lands in the wild.

These same locations are used, in many cases, by growers who cultivate coffee plants for commercial purposes. The disadvantage of this need for the plant is that it limits the feasible areas of cultivation: the only possible option are countries close to the equatorial zones.

In order to know which types of coffee beans exist, it is important to start from the root. Therefore, we must first know what types of coffee plants exist.

Types of coffee plants

There are two major species of coffee plants: the Arabica coffee plant and the Robusta coffee plant.

The two types of plants produce different seeds, different beans and, therefore, different coffee. The variety can be seen in its taste, smell and texture.

The arabica coffee plant is mostly present in America in the south of Mexico and all the countries of Central America, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. The African continent also has presence of the Arabica coffee plant in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Zambia.

On the other hand, the robusta coffee plant is found mainly on the African coast from Guinea to Nigeria, Gabon, Congo, Central African Republic, Southwest India, Southwest China, West Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia.  

In turn, there is a third type of coffee plant or coffee tree that arises, in reality, from the combination of the two previous ones. The mixture of the Arabica coffee plant and the Robusta coffee plant can be found in Brazil, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi and Zimbabwe.

Now that we have reviewed what coffee plants are and where to find them, we can move on to the types of coffee beans that exist in the world.

Types of coffee beans from the Arabica coffee plant

Arabica coffee is the one that has the largest presence worldwide: it represents between 70% and 80% of the total world production of coffee. Therefore, as is to be expected, it is the most commercialized variety.

Arabica coffee was the first to be cultivated, initially only its leaves were used to prepare tea infusions.

The Arabica coffee variety has only between 1% and 1.5% caffeine. This type of bean is characterized by its mild flavor and is associated with wild and dried fruit aromas.


The coffee bean called Moka originates from Yemen, and owes its name to the main exporting port of the country. The port of Moka used to be part of the only sea route to Mecca, which explains the great expansion of coffee from the Arab world.

The particularity of this bean is its low level of acidity and its taste similar to chocolate. For this reason, it is common to confuse Moka with the combination of coffee and cocoa, although they are different preparations.


After the Moka bean comes the Java coffee bean, which is the next most popular type of coffee bean.

The Java bean was introduced to the world in the 17th century in Indonesia, which at that time was a colony of Holland. Indonesia has a particular climate and soil that gives rise to a bean with a very strong, spicy taste and a hint of sweetness.

It was through export to Europe that these Java beans achieved the popularity they have today.

Kenya AA

As its name suggests, this variety of coffee bean is native to Kenya, on the African continent. It is usually cultivated in volcanic lands, with an abundance of nutrients, and from there it obtains an intense flavor.

The name of this grain responds, in addition, to the regulation of the plantations in Kenya to classify all the seeds they produce. Thus, there are 9 categories, from the lowest (UG3) to the highest (AA).


The volcanic and mountainous region of Costa Rica is the name given to the coffee bean grown there. According to several coffee experts, this variety is considered one of the most valuable in terms of its texture, smell, taste and color.

The Tarrazú bean has a taste similar to chocolate and a bit acidic.

There are many other varieties of Arabica coffee beans, such as: Peaberry, Harrar, Yirgacheffe, Kopi luwak, Mandheling and Lintong, Toraja Kalossi and Blue montain, among others.

Type of coffee beans of the Robusta plant

The Robusta coffee plant belongs to the Democratic Republic of Congo. One of the particularities that differentiate it from the Arabica coffee plant is the great resistance of its seeds, which can grow in a much wider variety of soils.

This coffee plant grows easily from 200 meters above sea level, in conditions of humidity and temperature stability.

The possibility of being cultivated in flatter and more easily accessible soils makes the production and harvesting of its fruits easier. Because of this, the plantations yield more, the harvest is larger and the price of the grain is lower.

However, the Arabica coffee bean is more widely consumed globally. This is due to the fact that the Robusta coffee plant provides beans with a worse smell and taste. In addition, this variety of coffee plant produces beans with a much higher level of caffeine, even though the bean size is smaller.

The coffee beans from the Robusta plant are bitter, with no acid taste, and little aroma. In addition, their texture is rather rough and creamy, which explains why it is the least demanded type of coffee in the world.

Nevertheless, these characteristics make this variety of coffee beans very popular for the preparation of espresso and instant coffees.

Types of coffee beans in Mexico

In Mexico, the two great varieties of the coffee plant are cultivated: Arabica and Robusta. As we have already seen, coffee from the Arabica plant is the most produced, demanded and sold all over the world, and Mexico is no exception to the rule.

Thus, in Mexico you can find more than 120 different types of coffee beans, belonging to the Arabica coffee plant.

Below, we present the most outstanding types of coffee beans of the Arabica variety in Mexico:

  • Typica: this coffee bean has its origin in Ethiopia, but its cultivation has expanded to reach several areas of America such as Guatemala and Mexico. This bean produces a sweet coffee. However, its production is low since it does not resist adverse weather conditions such as strong winds, and must be cultivated in special environments.
  • Bourbon: this variety of coffee bean owes its name to the Bourbon Island in the African continent, although it later arrived in Guatemala and then in Mexico. At the same time, in Brazil there is the so-called yellow Bourbon, originally from that country. This type of coffee bean is of very high quality and is the most cultivated in Chiapas, Mexico.
  • Mundo Novo: this variety of coffee bean has its roots in Brazil, and is a natural mixture of other varieties of beans of very good quality.
  • Maragogipe: this coffee bean originating in Brazil has the particularity of being very large in size. Likewise, its stems, leaves, fruits and seeds are very large. However, it is not a very cultivated variety in Mexico.
  • Caturra: this variety of coffee bean also belongs originally to Brazil, since it is an alteration of the Bourbon variety. It has a greater resistance to the sun and therefore has been used to genetically improve other varieties of coffee beans such as Garnica and Catuaí.
  • Garnica: this variety does originate from Mexico. It was developed by the Mexican Coffee Institute in 1960 through genetic modification of the Bourbon bean. This variety is mostly cultivated in Veracruz.
  • Catuaí: this species, also genetically altered by crossing the Mundo Novo and Caturra varieties, originated in Brazil. Catuaí was developed by the Brazilian Agronomic Institute of Campinas in 1949. It is mostly produced in Chiapas and Puebla, Mexico.

 In Mexico, some varieties of coffee beans of the Robusta species are also cultivated. The Traditional Robusta and the Improved Romex are varieties of great resistance and size that can even be up to 4 times bigger than the Arabica varieties. However, their fruits are smaller, rounder and less productive.

How to make coffee beans?

Although there are many people who do not care about the difference between coffee beans and ground coffee, the reality is that there is a very important jump in quality between one and the other.

The most commercial form of coffee is the industrially ground format, which “saves” the step of grinding the coffee beans.

However, there are many things from the past that are worth recovering, and among them is coffee beans.

One of the main advantages of coffee beans is that they preserve their properties better and longer than ground coffee. Ground coffee, on the other hand, oxidizes more quickly and can lose its properties in a matter of hours.

As the coffee beans remain intact for a longer period of time, they also retain their aroma and taste fresh.

But, how to prepare coffee beans? The difficulty that this presents is that each grind varies according to the type of coffee maker that is used to prepare it. However, this also has the benefit that each person can grind it as they like and that it is not necessary to have a coffee maker to do so.

Below, we share a step-by-step guide to prepare coffee beans without a coffee maker:

  1. Grind the coffee
  2. Boil the water
  3. Pour the ground coffee into the empty jug in which the coffee will be prepared, ready to drink.
  4. Pour the boiling water into the decanter that holds the coffee
  5. Let it sit for 2 or 3 minutes without stirring the mixture.
  6. Use a spoon to stir everything and let it rest again.
  7. Strain the coffee
  8. Ready to drink!