Types of Coffee

What are the Most Popular Types of Coffee?

Are you one of those people that can’t function on a morning until you have had a cup of coffee or three?  Do you use a steady stream of coffee to get through the day?  Or do you enjoy trying different types of coffee?  Whatever your relationship with coffee, many of us have a strong one.  We also tend to have favourites, preferences and types of coffee that we default to.  But there are a surprising amount of variations to experiment with!

Coffee stats

According to stats from 2017, Finland topped the charts for coffee consumption with Fins getting through an impressive 12kg a year.  Other Scandinavian countries were high on the list along with Netherlands, Switzerland and Belgium.  Here in the UK, we only ranked 26th on the list, which is a little surprising.

Another interesting set of stats is where coffee is produced.  Brazil tops the list of coffee producers with some 5.7 billion pounds being exported each year.  And most impressively, the country has topped the list for the most production of coffee for 150 years!  Next is Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia and Ethiopia.

Types of coffee beans

The first thing to understand about coffee is that while there are lots of types of coffee there are only two main categories of coffee beans.  Arabica are said to be the better quality of the two because they have low acidity and a delicate flavour.  They come from higher altitudes and therefore are harder to grow and more expensive to buy.

Robusta is the more acidic and harsher flavour of coffee and also has higher levels of caffeine.  It comes from a tougher plant that grows at lower altitudes, hotter climates and needs less water.  Most of the mass market commercial beans are Robusta because costs can be kept down.

Coffee from around the world

Learn more about where around the world does your coffee bean come from?

Coffee roasts

As well as being two main types of beans, there are four main types of roasts.  That’s because coffee beans are green when they are picked and are stored that way, so they stay fresh before being roasted.  The roasting process is what brings out the aroma and the taste that all coffee lovers recognise, causing chemical changes in the bean.  The four roasts are:

  • Light roasts – these have the mildest, more subtler flavours.  The outer surface is dry, and the roasting process is short enough that the bean doesn’t break down.  Common names include cinnamon, light, half city and New England
  • Medium roasts – stronger flavour and a medium brown colour with a dry surface to the bean.  These have a bright and crisp flavour that is fuller.  This type of bean is a favourite in the UK and US with examples including breakfast, regular, city and medium
  • Medium-dark roasts – slightly oily surface to the bean and dark colour with a rich body and a sweet taste.  Examples including full city, continental, Viennese and light espresso
  • Dark roasts – bittersweet in flavour with black, shiny appearance.  The beans are low in acidity and come in a wide variety including French, Italian, Spanish and Neapolitan

You can also get blends which add together two or more roasting levels to create a new, more complex flavour that is different to any of the single roasts.

Got the beans – start making coffee!

Learn how to start making coffee from fresh beans and what you need to do it

Storing coffee

Once you start branching out and trying different types of coffee, it is a good idea to understand how to store the types of coffee beans.  Plus there’s the questions of different grinds to learn (but let’s not get too complex!)

Whole beans are always the freshest and it is best to grind these just before you want to make the coffee.  Grinding leads to oxidation and this can make the beans bitter or flat so leave it until the last minute.  It also pays not to buy too much coffee as you should aim to drink it within two weeks of purchase while the beans are at their best.

Air causes deterioration so airtight containers are important to store your coffee.  Sometimes the bag they come in are okay if they have a strong seal but otherwise, proper coffee storage pots with a seal are important.  Then put the container somewhere cool and dark.

Health benefits of drinking coffee

One of the big things that has surfaced in recent years is that there are health benefits associated with coffee drinks.  Yes, we’ve all turned to coffee to wake us up in the morning or to get through a tired spell during the day.  But there are also health benefits to consider.

Fat burning

Caffeine is a natural fat burner and that’s why it features in so many different supplements to help lose weight.  Of course drinking a load of coffee isn’t going to magically make you thin but it can help the natural process when combined with other good practices.

Contains nutrients

The body needs a host of different nutrients to thrive and coffee offers quite a few.  These include Riboflavin, Vitamin B5, Manganese, Potassium and Vitamin B3.  While the amounts are small per cup, how many of us just drink one cup of coffee a day?  Coffee also contains loads of antioxidants – and many of us get more of this good stuff from coffee than from fruit and vegetables.

Reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s

There’s no cure for the neurodegenerative disease but studies have shown that coffee drinkers have as much as 65% less chance of getting it than those who don’t drink it.  There are also studies showing a reduction in risk of Parkinson’s, another neurodegenerative condition.

Protects the liver

There are a few diseases that affect the liver and many lead to something called cirrhosis.  Drinking four or more cups of coffee a day can lower the risk of this by as much as 80% in some people.

Helps extend lifespan

Finally, drinking coffee can help you live longer!  Two large studies showed a 20% lower death rate in men and 26% lower death rate in women over a period of up to 25 years when they drank coffee.  it also had a strong benefit for people with Type 2 diabetes, showing a 30% lower risk of death from the condition during the coffee.

Find your perfect cup

One of the great things about coffee is that there’s so many different types of coffee you can get.  From arabica coffee beans to blended roasts, there are loads of different options and you can always make a drink just how you like it.  Then there are all the types of coffee drinks including cappuccinos, espressos and all the menu you see at Starbucks – but we’ll take a look at them another day!