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Top 10 Best Coffee Beans in 2023

There are four kinds of natural coffee trees – robusta, arabica, liberica and ekstselsa. The last two species are tasteless and have no nutritional value, but arabica and robusta rightly prevail on the coffee market. However, new coffee hybrids created recently to increase the crop volume and increase the plant’s resistance to disease are still significantly inferior to the classic pure varieties in terms of taste.

Arabica – the Queen of Coffee in the World

According to coffee-drinking statistics, the famous arabica accounts for 70% of all the coffee consumed worldwide. Its delicate flavor and the huge variety of characteristics associated with the geographical origin of the bean, the quality of its cleaning, the degree of roasting and other factors make arabica so expensive. General characteristics of taste – most noticeable is its sweetness and density. To a large extent, the plant’s fickleness and low resistance to disease and frost affect the price of arabica coffee (and it is quite expensive). Over a year, one coffee tree produces about 5 kg of fruit, but only 1 kg is finished grain. Arabica is distinguished by its high aromatic content (16-18%) and low caffeine content (1-1.5%). The grains of this variety are large, long and straight.

Robusta. Some Like it Stronger

The tart and sharp taste of robusta have far fewer fans than the delicate, sweet and aromatic arabica. Therefore, robusta you can buy it for much cheaper. Robusta is only 30% of the total volume of coffee produced in the world. The aroma of robusta coffee is not as impressive, but the drink’s strength is much greater. This is why robusta is used to produce successful original blends and produce instant coffee and espresso to create a dense, stable foam. The aromatic oils in robusta only make up 8-10% of the coffee, but caffeine can reach 4%. You can distinguish robusta beans by their minute size and rounded shape.

It is easy to distinguish robusta coffee from arabica by taste. Robusta coffee will have a characteristic sour and sharp bitterness in the flavor, while arabica coffee is much milder. At the same time, robusta is dense, full-bodied, and less watery than arabica.

Tell Me Where My Coffee is Grown. We Say, “What Does it Taste Like?”

Distinguishing the variety and types of coffee beans is enough for a coffee drinker who wants to buy a decent coffee. Still, true professionals value the beans also according to their geographical origin, which makes its own mark on the finished drink.

  1. Colombian Milds – Arabica, grown in Colombia, Tanzania and Kenya. These are the best coffee beans and are the most valuable and expensive variety. The cost of these beans dictates the pricing policy for the rest of the class. Almost always, these grains are used for mixing with stronger flavors.
  2. Other Milds – High-quality coffee grown in Mexico, Central America and some Asian regions. Valued lower than Colombian coffee beans but still create a high-quality aromatic drink.
  3. Brazil – Even cheaper grades of arabica grow in most of Brazil and other South American countries. You should not need to go with these relatively low-grade beans, because you can buy coffee beans from other, more elite categories.
  4. Robustas – A category that includes all kinds of robusta, regardless of origin. Compared with arabica, these are the cheapest coffee beans.

There needs to be more than separating them into four categories to convey all the subtleties and nuances of flavors. In addition, the fragrant composition of the finished beverage will also include a particular note formed due to the influence of high mountains, monsoons, volcanic soils and other climatic conditions, which affect the result in the rating of coffee beans:

  • Aromatic palette grains grown in Yemen, for example, can be discovered by their pronounced fruity undertones.
  • You will not mistake beans from Rwanda or Tanzania for any other. Their unique aroma and mild flavor will make you a long-time fan of this excellent coffee.
  • The taste of beans from India is attractive for their complexity and versatility. The soft tartness on the palate and easy drinkability gives it an easily recognizable flavor.
  • Coffee beans from the fruit grown in Hawaii have a long aftertaste. This variety is considered quite rare, so it is not cheap to buy. Note: the degree of roasting will substantially affect the finished drink: a light roast makes it ideal for adding milk or cream, too, while a strong roast will give off a heavenly scent, and the taste will have a nice bitterness.
  • Coffee from Costa Rica – Bitter, aromatic and full-bodied. If Latinos call Mexican coffee invigorating, they apply the epithet – burning for Costa Rican coffee. Likewise, Cuban coffee beans possess a hot temper.
  • Arabica, grown in Jamaica – a gourmet coffee bean, the most famous and expensive coffee, can be bought worldwide. More than 70% of the crop is purchased in Japan, which makes the cost of Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee beans almost inaccessible in the world market. Excellent acidity, nutty tones, clean delicate flavor, and a delicate bouquet – all these qualities explain why this variety has been unsurpassed for a long time.
  • Coffee grown in Bali has a surprisingly rich aroma, which notes of spices, including clove and allspice, can identify. The drink leaves a pleasantly fruity, sweet aftertaste.
  • Ethiopian coffee is lovely and unpredictable. Each new year’s harvest surprises consumers – it is difficult to buy the same coffee in different seasons. It can have a variety of flavors, including chocolate, hints of lemon, a flower taste, or a taste of wine.

Size matters

In the selection of coffee beans, there is a simple principle – the riper the berry is, the larger the bean extracted, and the higher grade the coffee will be considered. The largest grains provide an excellent and flavorful drink. Individual sieves with different mesh sizes are used to sort the wheat. A common general sorting system is used in all parts of the world:

  • 8 mm – huge grains
  • 7.543 mm – extra large
  • 7,146 mm – large grains
  • 6.352 mm – good grain
  • 5.955 mm – average grain size
  • 5.161 mm – small coffee beans

Despite the existence of such a classification, today, the world has yet to have a single official standard to allow you to determine the quality and grade of the grain accurately.

Coffee Bean Defects: Allowance for Demanding Customers

The process of selecting the best beans is essential. It occupies a place of pride among the rest of the stages of coffee making, as from the coffee plantation to the cup, even one rotten bean that has gotten into the package can completely spoil the drink’s taste. Many defects affect the quality of grain and, accordingly, reduce its value. Coffee trees and other plants are prone to various diseases, and exotic insects are not averse to eating ripe coffee berries. A short education on determining the quality of the bean does not make you an expert in this area. Definitely, it will allow you to learn to distinguish between elite and premium beans from low-grade.

  • Quality beans that have gone through the roasting process become a nearly black color. But they may turn black and rot due to disease. At the same time, if you mix multiple varieties in one bag and find a rotten bean, distinguishing between them is extremely difficult.
  • Even a non-standard form may be considered in finding defects. Swollen beans with asymmetric grooves or shrunken and shriveled grains indicate defects or severe lateness in the collection time.
  • Broken beans or chipped beans are evidence of problems in drying and primary processing.
  • Coffee beans that have been affected by worms or beetles will have one or more circular openings of about 1 mm.
  • If the fruit of the coffee tree was collected while it was still immature, green beans would acquire a characteristic grayish color with dark shades ranging from black to brown. Pale yellow blotches on the grains show their lower quality compared with healthy grains and lighter density.
  • “Stinky” is – term coffee specialists use to describe odorous, defective beans (from the English: Stinker-Skunk). Some beans overexposed in fermentation tanks or stuck in shelling machines can spoil the whole batch of raw beans.
  • Caracol (peaberry, snail, pea) is not considered a separate coffee species. They are obtained from fruit in which two beans have been pressed together instead of holding just one bean. They are selected from the total weight and sold separately.

The defects of coffee beans will play a significant role in determining their class and cost. For example, if an expensive product is positioned as a “selective bean extra class,” you should not notice a single seed with defects in a pack.

How to Determine the Freshness of the Coffee Beans

One of the main signs of fresh beans is their oily sheen. The surface of old coffee beans has a dull grayish tint. Irregularities and cracks on the surface of the coffee are another reason to doubt its freshness and compliance with the rules of transportation and storage. But the most important tip is to pay attention to the aroma. The proper, sealed bean packaging with a valve enables gases to disperse outwardly during coffee storage so the packaging does not get blown up. But if, having opened a pack of coffee beans, you smell a rancid odor, using the beans for coffee is not recommended.

So, when planning to buy coffee, pay attention to three parameters:

  • Lubricity grains
  • Smooth surface without cracks or plaque
  • Good flavor

After choosing good coffee beans, in any case, you can be sure you’re getting real, black, brewed coffee, not a substitute. Keep in mind the fact that quality coffee is never packed in plastic jars. It is usually sold in a sealed vacuum, in glass or containers, which must contain information about the roasting date. This is not enough if the pack only specifies the product’s shelf life. In most cases, a package without the date the coffee was roasted will be of cheaper quality or may even be expired.

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