Types of Coffee Beans
The most commonly used and widely available bean, Arabica accounts for 60 percent of the world's coffee production. Originating hundreds of years ago in the highlands of Ethiopia, and likely popularized in 7th Century Arabia (hence the name), it's actually quite delicate and difficult to grow — meaning its prevalence doesn't necessarily translate to commodity prices. Often found under gourmet labels, high-quality Arabica is smooth and complex, with a notable lack of bitterness.
The second most popular bean, Robusta is hearty and disease resistant (which also accounts for the name). It originated in sub-Saharan Africa, which continues to be one of the primary growers, along with Indonesia. A more budget-friendly choice, instant coffee is generally comprised of 100 percent Robusta. The high-in-caffeine bean can have harsher, more bitter qualities, which is why it's also often found in blends, especially in Vietnam.
Rarely found in North American and European markets (accounting for a mere two percent of the world's coffee supply), Liberica is almost exclusively produced in Malaysia, and especially favored in the Philippines. It is known for having an inconsistent flavor; sometimes smoky and woody, sometimes floral, with a rather harsh finish.