Coffee has travelled a long distance from its place of discovery in Abyssinia to the Arabian Peninsula across the sea where it was first cultivated for trade and thereby to European countries gradually before it began to be available in every departmental store and inspired the concept of cafes across the world. While there are many different varieties of coffee available in the market today, there are two major species of the coffee plant, Coffee Arabica and Coffee Robusta which are most widely produced for mass consumption and trade. There may be hundreds of more sub species within the Arabica & Robusta but these two remain the parent genus for all varieties of coffee that are there in the world. Coffee Arabica, native to the Arab peninsula is the original coffee bean that travelled gradually to other parts of the world. Renowned for its decadent taste and many nuances it adds to every sip, Arabica gets its name from its place of origin and is the more prized of the two and consequently more expensive. Robusta derives its nomenclature from the ability of its shrub to be withstanding extreme weather condition, thereby imparting a robust flavour with a bold aroma to the brew. Unlike Arabica it is flatter and lacking the layers in taste than the former is famed for.
Now while the average coffee lover need not be an expert on coffee beans and their varieties, acquiring new knowledge can never be harmful. Knowing your bean gives you the leverage of being able to pick your favourites from the numerous on exhibit and the liberty to make your own blends to pinpoint one’s taste requirements. While the Arabica bush is grown all over the world at present, beans from different territories differ in taste of their resulting brew and this effect is most pronounced in varieties of Arabica bean from within the Arabian Peninsula. Like all other crops produced from commercial cultivation, the texture of the coffee beans is also influenced by the topography, weather and soil conditions. Ethiopian Arabica beans are known for a smooth, easy flavour with a floral finish that they impart to the brew while Kenyan Arabica beans have a more bitter taste. The world’s favourite Arabica beans are grown in Colombia. With the average bean growing up to the size of a walnut, they are known to impart a rich dark texture to the brew with a bold aroma. Some of the best known Arabica coffee beans are from Brazil and Costa Rica which impart a decadent cocoa flavour to the coffee with a nutty smell. With acquired skill and expertise almost every garden produces a distinctly different variety of the Arabica, both in appearance of the bean and the taste of the resulting brew.
The Robusta beans are cultivated all over the world but predominantly in Asia. The Canephor or the Robusta bean contains more caffeine and less oil than the Arabica and thus it has a bitter, flatter taste without any layers in taste. It is a cheaper and less exotic version of coffee and hence finds widespread use in expensive roasts made for espresso machines as well as packaged blended coffee available in supermarkets and stores. Due to its significantly higher caffeine content it has found a new foothold amongst young executives and professionals who utilize the burst of energy that it gives to give them a competitive edge. Although considered a poor cousin of the exotic Arabica and lacking a delicious taste, the Robusta finds use in making some of the best roasts for espresso machine brews. Some of the best Robusta beans which are roasted into exquisite coffees, such as Java and Kona are sourced from Sumatra and Komodo in Indonesia. These gourmet coffees are exceptionally flavoured and come at a premium price but coffee lovers do not find that an impediment to their morning coffee.