Cool Beans!

Hey everybody, hope you are all looking forward to your weekend ahead!

This week I thought we could talk about the science behind the actual coffee beans – it’s easy to forget these days with your instant coffee and self-foaming drinks that once that your coffee was a little green bean thousands of miles away.


The coffee plant (a tropical evergreen shrub, genus Coffea) started off  being grown in Africa and is now mainly grown in The Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. If like me, you have no idea where that is then this picture should help.

There are two main types of coffee beans that are used in commercial drinks and these are the Arabica and Robusta beans.

The Arabica plant has dark green leaves and is quite large. It takes around 7-9 months to be able to pick the cherries (where the beans live), which contain two seeds on average.


Arabica Plant

In contrast the Robusta plant is a small tree which grows to about 10 metres. It takes the beans around 10-11 months to mature in this species. The beans are also more oval and smaller than Arabica.


Robusta Plant

The overall trend for these beans is that the robusta is far more outgoing than the Arabica. Robusta can handle hotter temperatures (24-30°C vs 15-24°C) and are easier to grow and maintain. One reason for this is the level of caffeine you find inside.

The Robusta beans have about double the amount of caffeine. This is thought to be a safety mechanism as the bitter flavour deters insects from biting into their delicious flesh. This is why Arabica does better at higher altitudes as there are less pesky bugs hanging out there.

There is also an effect on the flavour as well.

Here are some quick-fire differences between the beans.



  • Stronger, harsher taste.
  • Twice as much caffeine but are a lower quality.
  • If good quality though they are good in espressos for their crema and flavour.
  • Easier to grow – less likely to get attacked by pests or the weather.
  • Produce more beans.

Although Arabica is the preferred bean to have in your coffee, a lot of places will put Robusta beans into their blends to reduce the cost, as these beans are way cheaper to produce.

Hope you enjoyed learning about the different types of beans in your coffee – now you can check what type you are having when you buy.

Have a good weekend and see you on Sunday!



Photos sourced from: 




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