For some of us, coffee is more than just a drink — it’s a way of life. We don’t want to be bothered in the morning before our morning cup, and we rely on coffee to recharge in the afternoons. We sip it as we start our work day and we enjoy it while we relax on the weekends.
But when it comes to these sorts of coffee experiences, not all coffees are created equal. There are different types and flavors of coffee, and each of us may find that we prefer one or the other. To better appreciate your coffee options, you have to familiarize yourself with the different sorts of coffee available to you. Here’s a guide to get you started.
Arabica versus robusta, and other bean considerations
The first way we can divide coffee is by the types of beans that are used. And we can sort pretty much all coffee beans into just two major categories: arabica and robusta.
Robusta coffee tends to be more bitter than its arabica counterpart. But these two broad categories don’t tell the whole story when it comes to coffee beans. There are also varieties of coffee beans within the major species. Different varieties are often cultivated in different coffee-growing regions, lending each area of coffee production its own unique taste.
For instance, Colombian coffee is a form of arabica that is renowned for its flavor. The Colombian method of preparing the beans, which involves washing the beans, also affects the taste and experience of Colombian coffee.
The variety of bean used to create your coffee may influence the way your coffee tastes, but there is a still more important factor than that: the roast. Coffee beans aren’t raw when they’re used to make coffee. They have been roasted, and how much they’ve been roasted will change the flavor of your coffee.
Light roasts tend to be acidic and heavy on caffeine. But they retain the flavor of the coffee bean more than the flavor of the roasting process, making for a relatively mild coffee. Medium roasts are a moderate brown color and produce a coffee that’s balanced between coffee bean flavors and roasting flavors. Medium-dark roasts and dark roasts tend to emphasize the flavor of the roasting process. They can taste bitter and sometimes even smokey or spicey.
Types of coffee drinks
Coffee can differ quite a bit before you even begin to prepare your coffee drink. From there, your options open up even more.
From concentrated espresso drinks to typical American pour-over coffees, coffee drinks can vary in their intensity and bitterness thanks to the coffee-to-water ratio in the beverage. And then there are additives like milk and cream, as well as more involved coffee drinks like lattes.
The taste of your coffee drink will, of course, be significantly different depending on things like the presence of milk and other flavors. And even very similar sorts of coffee can take on different characteristics depending on how you prepare them: for instance, a coffee cold-brewed in a French Press will taste different than a coffee prepared from the same water and beans in a typical coffee machine.
Finding the right coffee for you
So which sort of coffee bean do you prefer? What is your favorite roast, and how would you like your coffee prepared? The only way to find out is to try different sorts of coffee in different forms until you happen upon one that really speaks to you. You could opt for a coffee subscription box to have a curated selection to choose from, or you could ask for recommendations at your local coffee shop. Keep experimenting, and find your favorite coffee!