May 31, 2023 6 min read

What are the Different Types of Coffee Beans?

Does browsing the shelves of the coffee aisle leave you feeling more jittery than had you taken a shot of espresso?

With different roasts (light, medium, and dark roast), a multitude of flavor options (vanilla, caramel, hazelnut), and both single-origin and select coffee blends to choose from, the sheer amount of choice can be daunting —especially to those coffee drinkers usually restricted to the limited options of a café menu.

From Arabica coffee beans to Robusta coffee beans to Liberica coffee beans to Excelsa coffee beans, consumers are spoiled for choice, considering you can select your coffee beans according to theplace of origin, the roast type, and whether the coffee bean is single-origin coffee or a coffee blend.

Yet, time and time again, research shows that choice overload can lead to customer dissatisfaction and even choice paralysis. In some cases, choice overload can even breed skepticism in shoppers.

If decision fatigue has left you needing a caffeine boost, start by educating yourself on the different types of coffee beans. That way, terms like "light roast" or "single-origin" won't leave you feeling dizzied or deceived by coffee brands seemingly trying to sell the same coffee beans under a different name.

These Four Types of Coffee Beans Out There (And Their Taste Profiles)

Ask any resident coffee drinker, and they'll tell you there can be too much of a good thing (significantly if you exceed the recommended daily limit of six shots of espresso or 400 milligrams of caffeine). The "too much of a good thing" principle doesn't just apply to caffeine intake but to coffee bean options, too.

To a beginner coffee drinker's untrained eye, the visual differences between an arabica, robusta, and liberica coffee bean may be indiscernible. Besides subtle differences in shape (oblong vs. round coffee beans) and varying shades of darkness, robusta coffee beans and excelsa coffee beans, for example, may appear virtually identical.

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While it may be tempting to write off the different types of coffee beans available (e.g., light-roast coffee beans vs. dark-roast beans) as yet another ploy of clever grocery stories looking to hike up sales and create theillusion of choice, factors like the place of origin, altitude, climate, and roasting methodsdohave a noticeable impact on flavor, aroma, and caffeine levels.

But there are more differences than what meets the eye. These four different types of coffee beans — Arabica beans, Robusta beans, Liberica beans, and Excelsa coffee beans — vary in quality, flavor profile, and caffeine content.

Type #1: Arabica

Arabica beans are the most sought-after beans globally, mainly grown in regions with high altitudes, such as Latin America, East Africa, and Asia.

Arabica beans are known for their delicate, nuanced flavor profile of sweetness, acidity, and complexity. When brewed, Arabica beans produce a smooth and well-balanced cup of coffee with notes of caramel, chocolate, fruit, and floral undertones.

Arabica coffee is perfect for coffee drinkers who appreciate a subtle and refined flavor profile and those sensitive to the bitter taste of caffeine. Compared to other coffee varieties, arabica coffee beans have lower caffeine content.

Type #2: Robusta

Aptly named, Robusta coffee is known for its strength and boldness, sure to energize the earliest of early birds. Primarily grown in areas such as Africa and Southeast Asia, Robusta beans thrive in warm climates and at lower altitudes.

When it comes to the taste of robusta coffee, its bitter, earthy flavor profile and nutty undertones distinguish it from other coffee bean types. This flavor profile makes robusta coffee beans a popular choice for those who love a strong cup of coffee in the morning that can jumpstart their day with an energy boost that lasts for hours.

Renowned for their rich, full-bodied flavor and earthy notes of chocolate and nuts, Robusta beans are also known to have a higher caffeine content than Arabica beans. Due to their strong taste and high caffeine content, Robusta beans are often used in espresso blends or mixed with other beans for an added caffeine kick.

Type #3: Liberica

Liberica coffee beans, a rare variety of coffee, are grown primarily in Southeast Asia, specifically in countries such as the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

Liberica coffee's intense, smoky flavor, reminiscent of dark chocolate and sometimes even tobacco, makes it a fan-favorite among those looking for a full-bodied taste with slightly woody and earthy undertones.

This coffee bean is perfect for those who prefer a bold and robust coffee taste. With their unique flavor profile, Liberica beans are undoubtedly worth a try for adventurous coffee drinkers who want to explore different coffee varieties.

Looking for variety in your iced coffee or piping hot cup of joe? Consider stocking up on Liberia beans.

Type #4: Excelsa

If you're a coffee enthusiast, you won't want to miss out on the Excelsa coffee bean. Sourced from Southeast Asia, these beans are often grown in countries like Vietnam and the Philippines.

The Excelsa bean is a mysterious breed of coffee bean that's gained rapid popularity in recent years. What sets Excelsa coffee apart is its unique flavor profile. Known for its complex, fruity taste with a hint of tartness, and notes of dark chocolate and cinnamon, it's a unique bean with a distinct aroma.

Light Roast vs. Medium Roast vs. Dark Roast Coffee Beans

Any coffee lover will know various available roast options, including light, medium, and dark. But for the beginner, it's important to note that the roast of a coffee bean (light roast vs. medium roast vs. dark roast) doesn't refer to the type of coffee bean, only its production process.

Light, medium, and dark roast coffees all begin their journeys similarly. A coffee cherry containing the beans (Arabica beans, Robusta beans, Liberica beans, or Excelsa beans) is harvested from a coffee plant. Initially, the coffee beans extracted from the layer of sweet pulp are green in color before roasting.

As the name implies, a light roast coffee bean is lightly roasted and is exposed to a less intense heat than a dark roast bean. Unlike light roasts, dark roast beans generally longer roasting times, exposing them to higher temperatures. Medium roast beans strike a happy medium with a well-balanced, less acidic, and slightly nutty taste.

The roasting process influences a bean's taste, aroma, flavor, and caffeine content. As a bean is roasted longer, it loses moisture and expands in size. The result? A cup of fresh dark roast beans will weigh less, have less caffeine but bolder and richer flavors than the punch-packing light-roast beans. 

What About Single Origin Beans vs. Coffee Blends

Aside from roast, coffee beans can also be classified into single-origin and blends. The term "single origin" is very versatile, as it can refer to a bean sourced from asingle producer, crop, or region in the country. "Single-origin" can even imply that a coffee sourced was from one particular farm, mill, or cooperative.

Now, how might that affect your decision as a consumer?

Regarding single-origin vs. coffee blends, coffee enthusiasts shouldn't expect higher quality from either single-origin coffee or coffee blends. While some argue traceability correlates with quality, substantive data doesn't support that claim. If a coffee blend contains beans from more than one region or producer, it doesn't mean they're not high-quality.

Specialty coffee brewers like Mystic Monk produce a full line of high-quality coffee blends that promise the same high quality and traceability as single-origin coffees. But if you prefer something more straightforward, fear not: Mystic Monk also offers single-origin coffees for those who still prefer the distinct flavor profiles of a specific region!


Educating oneself on the different types of coffee beans can make it easier to understand the terms used to describe them, such as "light roast" or "single-origin." The four main types of coffee beans, Arabica, Robusta, Liberica, and Excelsa, each have their unique flavor profile, caffeine content, and quality.

Arabica beans are known for their delicate and nuanced flavor, while Robusta beans are appreciated for their boldness and strength. The Liberica coffee bean has a strong, smoky taste, while Excelsa coffee beans have a distinct fruity flavor.

If you want to explore the different flavors of coffee beans, you can try Mystic Monk Coffee. This coffee brand offers a range of blends and single-origin options to satisfy your curiosity.

Take the time to appreciate the flavors and the experience, and allow yourself to indulge in this little pleasure. Shop Mystic Monk today!