Arabica Or Robusta - Philly's Guide to Coffee

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When buying coffee beans for your business or home, what you should be looking for?  Hopefully this guide will help you to understand the differences between the basic types of coffee, and bust the coffee jargon, so you can choose which variety will work for you.


You basically have two main varieties of coffee plants, arabica and robusta. Arabica originated from Ethiopia, whilst robusta came from Uganda. Both are now grown in several other regions throughout the world, and most coffee is labelled clearly to show which country and region it was grown in. Generally speaking, arabica is superior to robusta, with a much stronger and more distinct flavor- robusta can be bitter and weak-tasting- however the taste also varies depending on which region the coffee comes from, and the processes it is subjected to during growing, shipping, storing and brewing.

You will often find that coffee is described in terms similar to those you might find in wine tasting: the main three categories used are flavor (such as ‘sweet’ or ‘spicy’), aroma (such as ‘flowery’ or ‘chocolaty’), body (such as ‘medium-bodied’ or ‘full-bodied’) and acidity (which refers to how ‘sharp’ or ‘clean’ the coffee tastes, NOT to its pH).

When you buy coffee beans, you will probably buy them already roasted, however you can ‘home-roast’ them if you choose. Roasting unlocks the flavor from the bean, and the extent to which beans are roasted varies- for example, you can buy ‘medium roast’ beans, ‘Italian roast’ beans (‘Italian’ refers to the roast- it does not indicate that the beans came from Italy), and so on.

It is worth trying out different types of coffee, using the above points as a guide. You will be amazed at the range of flavors out there, and the more effort you make to try the different flavours, the more of an expert you will become.

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