Know the difference between Robusta or Arabica?
There´s no point in having an excellent bean to cup coffee machine without some excellent coffee beans to go in it. As with most things in life, if you put good ingredients in, you´ll get a good result. It´s the same with coffee, don’t skimp on the beans and you´ll ensure a most outstanding cup of coffee.
Coffee Beans – A bean isn’t just a bean
Buying coffee beans sounds like it might be a straightforward process, after all, you’ve seen them in the supermarket so you just go a grab a packet right? Yes and no.
Coffee is not just coffee and no two types of beans taste the same. While almost all coffee beans are either Robusta or Arabica, they differ so much more than their variety. Coffee beans have a taste that depends on soil type, weather conditions, roasting processes and many other factors.
Do you want Guatemalan coffee? Colombian? Indonesia? Peruvian? How strong do you want them? How much caffeine? Do you want it smooth? Rich? Deep? Light? Oh the endless choices.
Getting a great bag of beans can mean the difference between a nice coffee and an outstanding coffee and really, if you’re going to spend money on it, which would you prefer? Different coffees can be enjoyed at different times of the day and when you have dinner parties or special occasions or just a lazy Sunday, having a phenomenal specialty coffee to enjoy is the cherry of top.
Read on to discover some incredible beans from around the world…but first a bit about type.
Robusta Coffee Beans
There are lots of species of coffee but the two most commonly sold are Robusta and Arabica.
Robusta is easier to grow, more resistant to pests and has higher yields rates than Arabica. As a result, it’s significantly cheaper to buy than Arabica. It also has a higher caffeine content than Arabica, almost twice the amount and while it might keep you awake more, all that caffeine negatively affects the taste, lending it a much more bitter flavour.
Robusta is used in many instant coffees and in blended coffees – this is because mixing it in with Arabica brings the cost to produce the bag of coffee down. Unfortunately, this brings the taste down too.
Arabica Coffee Beans
Arabica coffee only grows at altitudes greater than 600m and this makes it considerably harder to grow and harvest than Robusta. Nevertheless, with its lower caffeine content, smoother taste and higher sugar content, Arabica tastes much better.
While Arabica in general tastes better than Robusta, there are still many factors involved and you can get a wide range of quality from Arabica beans, from low end to high end.
Mass produced coffee suffers in taste due to large batch roasting and economic restrictions. You can get some tasty bulk batch coffee beans but the most delicious coffees tend to be made from boutique coffee growers and roasters who have higher prices to enable them to create the most mesmerising coffee you’ve ever tasted.
Because we at Blackheart’s Coffee approve of quality over quantity and enjoyment over necking a hot beverage, here is a list of some of the best coffee beans around without crying over your bank statement.
Marley Coffee Organic Lively Up Espresso Roast Whole Bean Coffee Bag 227g
Who better to kick off our coffee bean listing than a member of the Marley family? If you’re looking to liven up your morning coffee then it’s time you turned away from supermarket beans and looked to Rohan Marley, Bob Marley’s son.
These beans are 100% organic Arabica beans, certified by the Soil Association and have won taste awards to boot. They’re roasted and packaged in the U.K. and have absolutely rave reviews.
While not being particularly strong, these Marley beans have bags of flavour and are a great roast to try in your grinder or bean to cup coffee machine. If you’re a fan (and I think you will be), there are other flavours to try.
Rohan produces several different bags of Marley coffee beans but this Lively Up Espresso Roast Whole Bean Coffee will knock your socks off and it’s an amazing price. With a hint of fruitiness, this coffee provides a great crema once it’s gone through your espresso machine and you will be a life long fan.
Rave Coffee is a British artisanal roasting company and this Swiss Water blend is roasted in the rolling hills of the Cotswolds. It has something particularly interesting up its sleeve as well – These Rave coffee beans are actually decaffeinated. Didn’t know you could get decaff whole coffee beans? Well you can, but they are mighty hard to come across, especially ones tasting this good.
You may not want the caffeine in your coffee but you sure as hell want the rich flavour right? Well-decaffeinated beans are notorious for having poor flavour but these beans are something else entirely and you won’t be disappointed. All this is thanks to the Swiss Water decaffeination method.
Swiss Water is a company who take high quality coffee beans from all over the world, hydrate them with pure water then add their innovative Green Coffee Extract to the water. Caffeine moves out of the coffee bean by itself until there are the same levels in the water as there are remaining in the bean. The extract is them refreshed to drawn more caffeine from the beans.
The process is eco and bean friendly and allows the coffee to retain its rich, deep flavour. The decaffeinated beans (99.9% of caffeine removed) are then shipped to the roasters, in this case, Rave Coffee. Without using harsh chemicals in the decaffeination process, Rave Coffee Sparkling Water Blend Decaffeinated Fresh Roasted Coffee Beans are filled to the brim with flavour.
For this price you’ll be hard pressed to find a better tasting bag of decaf coffee beans and you’ll receive these soon after they’ve been roasted (if you live in the UK) – meaning that the flavour is to die for. If you become a fan of Rave then you give their caffeinated coffee a try too – these guys know how to roast a good bean. – Rave Coffee – Seasonal Decaf – 1kg Fresh Roasted Coffee Beans
Lavazza Super Crema Coffee Beans
Well it was only a matter of time until we came to Lavazza coffee and indeed, what list would be complete without it? Lavazza is enjoyed all over the world, especially in Europe and double especially in Italy where it rules the roast (sorry).
Lavazza’s Super Crema Coffee Beans kinda do what they say on the tin, they create a phenomenal crema and your espresso. Grind on a fine setting and you’ll be on your second espresso before your partner can say, ‘need some energy?’
These beans will produce excellent tasting coffee with a rich and aromatic flavour and will suit any time of day. Buying these in bulk might put some people off but if you store them in a cool, dry place then the flavour should stay.
However, if you really want to strive for unique and mind blowing coffee flavours then the general rule means that the more freshly roasted the beans are, the better the flavour.
Roasted in the UK, these coffee beans are grown in the tiny British South Atlantic island of St Helena and are a very particular type of Arabica. Sent to the U.K. for roasting, this Knightsbridge boutique coffee company turns fantastic beans into a simply delicious product.
The care taken during harvesting and processing is evident when you taste the coffee made from this bean, it’s really something for the coffee obsessed. Coffee is no longer a drink, it’s like wine, it should be savoured and tasted.
Understandably pricey, this Sea Island Coffee St Helena South Atlantic Rare Coffee Whole Bean Tin Set may not be something you buy every time you run out but it’s most certainly something to try. And who knows, you might just realise what you’ve been missing all this time and become a coffee connoisseur.
Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee has a bit of a reputation and if you’ve ever been on holiday to the Caribbean, you may just have sampled a cup and fallen quite quickly in love.
Grown and roasted in Jamaica, this coffee has a global reputation for being some of the best in the world. It’s a difficult title to hold in this day and age, where boutique and artisanal coffee roasters are springing up everywhere doing new and unique things. But really, Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee must be tried by anyone who enjoyed good coffee.
From the moment you open the bag to the moment your bean to cup coffee machine pours it into your espresso cup, you’ll be in coffee paradise. This really is an astounding coffee that has all its own nuances in flavours and texture.
When you compare the price to the cost of heading to your local coffee shop…well, it’s kind of a no brainer. Choose world-renowned coffee or the dubious Robusta blend your local coffee house is probably serving to keep costs down? There are many fantastic coffees out there but time and time again, people come to the Jamaica Blue Mountain and just go, ‘ahhhhh.’
This dark roast (strength 5) Sumatran coffee is Fairtrade, an important consideration for many coffee buyers. Certified organic, the Suma coffee beans produce a deep and rich flavour that’s not going to go unnoticed, that’s for sure.
A distinctive flavour, this coffee has got a huge following behind it and it’s obvious why. With a very smooth texture and a depth of flavour that is notable, this organic Sumatran Gaya Highlands coffee is up there with some of the best.
It works well in bean to cup coffee machines as well as separate grinders and then espresso machines and will surprise you with its aroma. The airtight seal on the bag is a good design and should allow you to store the beans in-bag without letting them go stale over the time it takes you to get through them.
Hawaiian Kona Whole Bean Coffee 125g – from the Greenwell Private Reserve Estate in the Kona District of Hawaii
These Hawaiian Kona coffee beans have a pretty solid reputation behind them are single origin beans, no blending to be found here! 100% Arabica, these beans are absolutely bursting with completely unique flavours that meld to create an unforgettable coffee experience.
The price of these coffee beans may make your eyes water slightly but we’re not suggesting you buy this every week. For anyone who really treasures the taste of some of the world’s best coffee though, you absolutely have to try this. Nowhere else will you drink anything like it and it will give you a better understanding of what greatness tastes like.
Truly artisanal coffee, you can tell that experts have worked on these coffee beans for years, honing their processes to be absolutely flawless. The unique qualities of Hawaiian soil and climate all add to these beans to make them exquisite in every way.
Even if you only ever buy one bag, do buy one – these beans aren’t for show, they’re for adoration.
Death Wish Coffee, The World’s Strongest Coffee, Whole Bean, Fair Trade, Organic, Shade Grown, 16 oz. Bag
Death Wish Coffee is an American brand (can you tell?) but despite its name and marketing technique, it’s actually immensely delicious, smooth and rich in flavour. This is a no marketing gimmick and corners haven’t been cut to just chuck extra caffeine in there.
The coffee beans are grown in the shade, a technique traditionally used and now gaining in popularity again. This means that coffee bushes are grown under the canopies of existing forests or deliberately grown trees that will offer enough shade. The quality of beans that are shade grown is higher than those that have been bred to be sun resistant and it can be a significantly more ecologically farming practice. Coffee grown in the sun also requires heavy use of pesticides whereas shade grown coffee either needs very little, or none at all.
As a cautionary note though, remember that caffeine is a powerful drug and you don’t want to be chugging this three times a day.
This is pretty much the world’s most unique coffee and it’s really an extraordinary product to even be in existence. The Indonesian Civet cat has a bit of a thing for coffee cherries and spends its nights chomping down on plantation coffee plants.
Because these cats (more like raccoons really) can’t digest the stone (the coffee bean) inside, the bean travels through the stomach and digestion system and is…well…it comes out the other end. The beans are collected, processed and sold – a unique flavour indeed.
Kopi Luwak reached the west and Indonesia soon struggled to keep up. As a result, civet cats were caged and kept in horrific conditions, forced fed coffee cherries to produce this incredible Kopi Luwak. Numerous campaigns by individuals, the Rainforest Alliance and huge companies such as Harrods have all since banned caged Kopi Luwak coffee. There are now a growing number of wild producers and this coffee comes from one.
Because the coffee plantation that Wild Kopi Luwak comes from farms and sells regular coffee, they can also spend the time hand collecting wild civet cat droppings – and thus the beans. The farmers never come into contact with the wild animals and great lengths are gone to, ensuring that the animals remain free and wild.
With a smooth, almost smoky flavour, these coffee beans produce exquisite coffee than is really unlike anything else in the world. It’s worth trying for the experience but really, you might find yourself pleasantly surprised and wondering how much a flight out to Sumatra costs to see this incredible plantation yourself.
This coffee comes highly recommended but if you end up looking at buying other Kopi Luwak, you must look into its manufacture and ensure that the beans are collected from truly wild animals.
Bulletproof Coffee – heard of it? Of course you have, how could you not? This coffee has created its own corner of the coffee market – the bio hacking corner. Bulletproof coffee doesn’t just want to give you a nice tasting coffee; it wants to make you a faster, more efficient person while doing it.
This starter kit contains a bag of Upgraded™ whole coffee beans plus a bottle of Brain Octane™ oil to add to your coffee. With the addition of some grass-fed unsalted butter (that you supply yourself), you’ll have yourself a thoroughly bulletproof coffee.
The coffee beans themselves are harvested and processed in Guatemala to a high standard and create a delicious coffee alone. The Brain Octane™ oil is medium chain triglyceride (MCT oil), which aims to provide easily broken down fuel for your body. Grass-fed unsalted butter should also be blended in to produce long-standing fuel to see you perform at your peak throughout the day.
Does it taste awesome? Yes.
Will you want to drink it all the time? Probably. Is it good for you? I don’t know. Bulletproof has started a small ball rolling in an endless snowfield and it shows no sign of stopping. This starter kit is great value to see how Bulletproof coffee can fit into your life and why not give it a try?