Your Guide to the Coffee Bean: Types and Varieties

Americans love their coffee. In the United States, more than 450 million cups of coffee are consumed each day. As a coffee retailer, it’s important that you give your customers the best possible product. Most coffee producers offer more than one blend so that their customers can make a choice based on their personal preferences. But what is a blend? And what are the differences between the different types of coffee beans?

Stay with us as we break it down in this guide.

The Four Main Types of Coffee Beans

There are four main types of coffee beans that are grown in the Coffee Belt. This is the area along the equator where most coffee is grown because coffee needs a hot climate to grow. The best growing conditions differ for each bean. For example, some prefer more rain or more altitude. Let’s take a look at the characteristics of each of the four bean types.


The most commonly used coffee bean in the Arabica bean. This type of bean makes up the majority of the coffee consumed around the world. Roasts that use this type of bean are considered to be better quality and consequently, often come at a higher price. Most coffee shops use a blend prepared with this type of bean. Arabica beans can be grown in different areas of the Coffee Belt but most of them are grown in Latin America. Exactly where they are grown impacts their flavor. The Arabica plant is considered delicate and needs specific conditions to properly grow. Arabica beans are more acidic than the next most common bean time, the Robusta bean. The coffee produced is complex and sweet. There are many sub-species of Arabica that are called varieties. These include Bourbon, Cattura, and Typica, for example.


Robusta beans are the second most common type of coffee bean. While retailers do sell blends that contain Robusta and Arabica beans, most Americans purchase Robusta coffee beans for their home brewing needs. These beans are often found in instant coffee products and lower quality blends. However, they are also used in Italian espresso blends. Robusta beans actually have a different appearance than what we typically picture when we think of a coffee bean. These beans are not shaped like almonds. Instead, they look like small balls. They also contain twice as much caffeine as Arabica coffee beans. When roasted, Robusta beans have a more harsh and bitter flavor. They are often used to make espresso shots because of their flavor. If you like you like to add sugar and cream to your coffee, Robusta beans are for you. Their flavor holds up better when you add these sweeteners than Arabica beans do. The coffee produced has an intense and smoky flavor. Robusta beans are usually grown in Indonesia and Africa because they are easier to grow. They can grow at any altitude. The plant is preferred because of its ability to resist disease and pests.


This type of coffee bean is only grown in the Philippines. Less common, they have a floral and fruity smell but result in a coffee that is full-bodied. The coffee produced has a smoky, woody flavor. In 1890, the United States experienced a shortage of Arabica beans and had to import Liberica beans from the Philippines. This stopped when the Philippines claimed independence from the U.S. and traded was ceased. The coffee produced is not considered as tasty as it’s counterparts. In fact, it’s often used as grafting stock for pest resistance.


This type of bean is relatively rare, making up just a small portion of the world’s coffee supply. Exelsa coffee beans are similar to Liberica beans, but their flavor is more tart and fruity. They are grown in Southeast Aisa.

The Roasting Spectrum

Retail coffee producers usually offer a variety of coffee blends. These include light, medium, and dark roasts. How long you roast a bean for determines quite a few things about the coffee produced. These include how acidic the coffee is, how much caffeine it has, how much body it has, and how intense the flavor is. When it comes to choosing the right coffee beans for your preference, you have to consider where the coffee came from. The base flavors of coffee are determined by which coffee-growing region it came from. There are three regions to consider.

Latin America

Coffee produced in this region has chocolate and nutty tones. This coffee usually comes from Arabica beans.


Coffee from this region tends to be fruity and floral.


Coffee beans from this region include herbal, earthy, and spiced varieties. While Arabica beans can be grown in the second two regions, they are usually where Robusta beans are grown. Coffee is usually consumed in a blend containing beans from two or more countries and often more than one region. Each blend creates a coffee with a unique flavor and taste. The percentages and concentrations are what make each blend different. Drinking single-origin coffee allows for a more cultural coffee experience.

Purchasing Coffee Beans

Now that you know more about the types of coffee beans and how blends are made, you are ready to purchase your own. We sell wholesale green coffee beans from the best regions of the world. As a coffee retailer, your product is only as good as the beans you use to make it. Give your customers the best with our products or contact us today for more information.