Your Ultimate Guide to Coffee Beans

Welcome, coffee devotees, to the captivating realm of San Francisco Bay Coffee beans! Prepare to be spellbound as we journey through the rich tapestry of flavours, aromas, and origins that these exceptional beans have to offer. Together, we'll navigate the enchanting world of coffee, unveiling the hidden treasures that lie within each bean. So, gather your curiosity, ignite your senses, and let's embark on this delightful quest to unravel the captivating secrets of our beloved coffee beans. 

What is a coffee bean?

Green beans.

First and foremost, what is a coffee bean? It's a question that has perplexed many a coffee lover. Simply put, a coffee bean is the seed of the Coffea plant's fruit. The fruit, often called a coffee cherry, contains two beans nestled cosily within. Sometimes, you may come across a single, rounded bean known as a peaberry. These beans are then harvested, processed, roasted, ground, and brewed to create that delicious liquid gold we can't live without.

Before roasting, coffee beans are green in colour and have a grassy aroma. The roasting process transforms these humble seeds into the familiar brown beans, releasing a myriad of flavours and aromas. Coffee beans contain various compounds, including caffeine, oils, acids, and sugars, that contribute to their unique taste profiles. Factors such as roast level, grind size, and brewing method can all influence the final taste of your coffee.

Where do coffee beans come from?

Coffee beans are grown in over 70 countries around the world, primarily in the lush, tropical regions along the equator. These areas, known as the "Bean Belt," span from Central and South America to Africa and Asia. The Coffee plant thrives in these regions due to their ideal combination of temperature, rainfall, and altitude.

Each region boasts its unique flavour profiles, shaped by the climate, soil, and altitude. For instance, coffee beans from Central and South America often exhibit bright acidity, medium body, and flavours ranging from fruity to chocolatey. African coffees, on the other hand, are known for their complex, fruity, and sometimes floral notes. Asian coffees tend to have a heavier body, lower acidity, and earthy or spicy flavours.

Map of the bean belt.

The journey of a coffee bean from seed to cup is a fascinating one, involving the dedicated efforts of farmers, processors, roasters, and baristas. Each step along the way has a profound impact on the final taste and quality of your coffee. So whether you fancy a fruity Ethiopian blend or a bold Colombian roast, there's a coffee origin to suit your palate. Next time you sip on your favourite brew, take a moment to appreciate the remarkable journey that each coffee bean has undertaken to bring you that perfect cup of liquid gold.


Types of Coffee Beans

Let's explore the fantastic world of coffee bean varieties! With so many types to choose from, there's a bean for every occasion and taste preference.

Arabica (Coffea arabica)

Flowering Cosecha coffee bloom.

Arabica beans reign supreme as the most widely consumed coffee beans globally, responsible for approximately 60% of all coffee production. These beloved beans are renowned for their mild, delicate, and nuanced flavours, boasting a delightful medley of fruity, floral, and even nutty notes.  Their renowned flavour and intensity is why San Francisco Bay Coffee Co. exclusively uses arabica beans in their luscious brews. Grown predominantly in Latin America, East Africa, and certain parts of Asia, Arabica beans flourish at high elevations of 2,000 to 6,000 feet above sea level. Due to their sensitive nature, these beans demand a significant amount of attention and care, solidifying their status as the regal princes and princesses of the coffee world. From the bright, acidic taste of a Kenyan blend to the smooth, chocolatey notes of a Colombian roast, Arabica beans are incredibly diverse, ensuring there's a flavour profile to suit every palate.

Robusta (Coffea canephora)

Enter the robust world of Robusta beans, the tough and sturdy cousins of Arabica. These beans make up about 40% of coffee production, primarily grown in Africa, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Robusta beans are typically less expensive due to their hardy nature and ability to withstand harsher growing conditions, such as lower elevations and greater resistance to pests and diseases. If you're craving a bold, strong cup of coffee with a punchy caffeine kick, Robusta beans are your go-to choice. Often characterized by their earthy, woody flavours and higher bitterness, these beans are frequently used in espresso blends and instant coffee, lending a powerful and intense taste that true coffee aficionados will appreciate.

Liberica (Coffea liberica)

Liberica beans, native to West Africa, particularly Liberia, are a rare and unique breed in the coffee kingdom. With a distinctively bold, smoky, and sometimes even slightly fruity flavour profile, these beans cater to the more adventurous coffee aficionado. Liberica accounts for only a small percentage of global coffee production, with the Philippines being one of its most significant producers. The beans themselves are larger and more irregularly shaped than their Arabica and Robusta counterparts, adding to their exotic allure.

Excelsa (Coffea excelsa)

Though technically a member of the Liberica family, Excelsa beans boast their distinct characteristics, making them worthy of a separate mention. These beans, primarily grown in Southeast Asia, particularly in the Philippines and Indonesia, are known for their tart, fruity notes, and light body. They're often used in blends to add complexity and depth to the overall flavour profile. Excelsa beans possess a unique flavour, often described as a combination of light citrus notes and darker, toasty undertones. This intriguing duality sets Excelsa apart from other coffee varieties and makes it a sought-after component in specialty blends.

Each coffee bean type brings its unique flavours and characteristics to the table. Arabica is the gentle and nuanced royalty, while Robusta stands strong and bold, providing a powerful kick. Liberica caters to the daring coffee lovers who seek the road less traveled, and Excelsa adds a touch of complexity to elevate coffee blends. No matter your coffee preferences, there's a world of beans waiting to be discovered, each offering a distinct and delicious experience that will undoubtedly awaken your senses and delight your taste buds. So, embark on this flavourful journey, explore the diverse range of coffee beans, and find the perfect blend that speaks to your soul.

How much caffeine is in a coffee bean?

Caffeine content varies between coffee bean types, with Robusta beans packing the most significant punch. On average, an 8 oz cup of coffee has around 95mg of caffeine. However, the caffeine content of your coffee depends on many factors, including the roast level, grind size, and brewing method. So, when choosing your beans, remember to balance your desired caffeine intake with your preferred flavour profile.

French Roast coffee beans.

How To Choose the Best Coffee Beans

Now that you're well-versed in the world of coffee beans, let's discuss how to choose the best beans for your brewing pleasure.

      • Know your preference: Start by determining your taste preferences. Do you prefer a bright, fruity cup of coffee or a bold, dark roast with chocolatey notes? Understanding your palate will help you select the perfect coffee bean variety.

      • Consider the origin: The origin of a coffee bean plays a significant role in its flavour profile. Beans from Central and South America tend to be balanced and mild, while African beans can be more fruity and floral. Asian beans often exhibit earthy and spicy characteristics. Use these generalizations as a starting point, but don't be afraid to experiment with beans from different regions to find your favourite.

      • Pay attention to the roast: The roast level of your coffee beans will also influence the taste. Light roasts showcase the bean's natural flavours and tend to be more acidic, while medium roasts strike a balance between the bean's inherent characteristics and the roasting process. Dark roasts feature bold, smoky flavours that can mask the bean's origin. Choose a roast that complements your taste preferences and desired flavour profile.

      • Try single-origin and blends: Single-origin coffee is sourced from a specific region, offering a unique taste that represents the area's characteristics. Blends, on the other hand, are a combination of beans from multiple regions, creating a harmonious flavour profile. Both single-origin and blends have their merits, so don't shy away from trying both to discover your preference.

      • Experiment, experiment, experiment: The world of coffee beans is vast, and the best way to find your ideal match is through experimentation. Try various beans, origins, roasts, and brewing methods to uncover the perfect combination for your taste buds.

At San Francisco Bay Coffee, we're passionate about providing you with the finest coffee beans sourced from around the world. Our mission is to help you explore the incredible variety of flavours and aromas that coffee has to offer. So, why not embark on a coffee bean adventure with us and unlock the secrets to your perfect cup? Happy brewing!