What is Arabica coffee actually? Why is it so loved by coffee buffs around the world? As coffee entrepreneurs, we should be able to answer those questions. Arabica coffee – also known as the Arabic coffee – is a type of coffee made from the beans of the Coffea arabica plant. Originating from Ethiopia, it is believed to be the first species of coffee discovered and cultivated. Arabica coffee is the largest produced in the world today, accounting for 60% of the world’s coffee production.
Arabica coffee plants thrive in tropical regions near the equator, with temperatures between 15°C and 24°C. Referred to as the coffee belt, the equatorial regions include countries like Ethiopia, Indonesia, India, Guatemala, Colombia, and Brazil – the world’s largest producer of Arabica coffee. Arabica coffee grows well at high altitudes, and is often grown on hillsides. Surrounded by numerous mountains, Indonesia’s Arabica coffee-producing regions are mainly located at an altitude of 900 to 2500 above sea level. Arabica plants grow up to 4.5 meters high, and the beans are oval shaped.
There are plenty of varieties and types of Arabica coffee. But the main and most popular types are Typica and Bourbon. Compared to Bourbon, Typica has more varieties. Typica beans are widely spread across Indonesia, whereas Bourbon is found only in several Indonesian plantations. The numbers are few compared to Typica.
Besides the question “what is Arabica coffee?”, most people would wonder, how does it taste? Because it all comes down to this, the taste. The flavors of Arabica coffee can vary depending on the region, type of bean, processing method, and roast level. But in general, the most common Arabica coffee has a slightly sweet flavor with hints of chocolate, caramel and nuts. A touch of fruit and berries may be present along with a light acidity and a little bitterness. The flavors of the coffee beans can be better preserved by storing the beans properly. On the other hand, cold brewing coffee can help bring out more sweet flavors. The aroma of arabica coffee is often described as a fragrance with fruity notes. The unroasted Arabica beans often smell like Blueberries.
In terms of bean processing methods, there are four ways to process Arabica coffee beans in Indonesia:
1. Washed (Wet Process)
This process, also known as Full Washed, has been widely used in various coffee-producing countries. The time required is also fast and efficient.
2. Semi Washed (Wet Hulled)
This process is widely used in Indonesia due to its wetter climate. It is often referred to as the ‘giling basah’ process by local people. Time requirements are also shorter than other methods of treatment. Wet hulled coffee beans are in high demand for export products due to their time and cost efficiency.
3. Natural (Dry Processed)
This process is part of the traditional method of coffee processing that is common in Ethiopia, the country where coffee originates. The Natural process is usually performed for the production of specialty Arabica coffee beans. For that reason, the dry processed coffee beans are generally more expensive because the processing time is longer, and it produces a more unique coffee profile.
4. Honey Process
This process is rarely performed unless there is a request. The honey process is a combination of both Washed and Natural processes.
So now, should someone ask you “what is Arabica coffee?”, you would be able to provide a general explanation, and therefore, inspire others to find out more about this amazing coffee bean.