Coffee Bean Types, Origins, Roast Profiles, & Flavors


Coffee Bean Types, Origins, Roast Profiles, & Flavors

When it comes to planning your new coffee brand, it all comes down to crafting a great-tasting brew. After all, drinking your coffee should be an expe

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When it comes to planning your new coffee brand, it all comes down to crafting a great-tasting brew. After all, drinking your coffee should be an experience coffee lovers want to revisit over and over again. The perfect cup of joe starts with finding the perfect coffee beans.

Buying coffee beans may seem straightforward, but there’s a lot involved when selecting beans. From different roasts to coffee origins, a lot goes into creating a seemingly simple cup of coffee. All these variables affect your coffee’s aroma and flavor.

If you’re looking for the right beans and flavors for your coffee business, keep reading. There are a few choices you’ll be needing to make soon.

Different Types of Coffee Beans

Whether you’re a chain of retail stores or an online entrepreneur, better coffee beans bring you one step closer to serving the best coffee around. Choosing from among the different types of coffee beans available is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your journey to creating the best private label coffee brand.

Here are some of the terms you’ll encounter when it comes to choosing coffee beans and selecting a roasting process.

Arabica vs. Robusta

Today’s coffee beans are either arabica or robusta. While both have strong benefits, one is likely better for your business than the other:

  • Arabica beans: Arabica beans account for 70% of worldwide coffee bean production. They’re long, thin, and have a higher acidity content that creates a sweet, sugary, and sometimes fruit-like taste. They are considered a delicacy and cost more to source.
  • Robusta beans: Robusta beans are easy for farmers to grow in many regions, which makes them a reliable, affordable option. They have a strong flavor with hints of grains or nuts, making them ideal for frothy espresso brews.

Coffee Origins

Farmers across the globe produce coffee beans using their region’s unique growing conditions. Single-origin coffee refers to the part of the world where your coffee beans were grown. Geographic location plays a huge role in the way your coffee beans taste, as each region has its own distinct flavors and characteristics. Elevation, sunlight exposure, soil quality, and even the farmer’s growing methods can change your beans’ flavor profile.

Elevation, in particular, plays a crucial role in the bean’s density, taste, and appearance. The higher the elevation, the more complex the bean, since elevated growing conditions are more challenging and slow the beans’ maturation process. The result is a hard coffee bean with concentrated flavors.

Elevation also impacts the beans’ growing temperature. Arabica beans flourish in cooler climates at high elevations, while robusta beans do well in warmer, lower regions. Higher elevations create nuttier, deeper flavors, sometimes with hints of chocolate or fruit, while lower elevations produce low-acid beans that take on their regions’ earthy flavors.

Coffee beans can also come from blended origins. These types of beans may be from a few regions or one general region, such as Central America. The flavor tends to be more balanced in coffee with blended origins.

Central America

Most of Central America’s coffee beans — all of which are arabica beans — are grown in volcanic soil at high altitudes, meaning concentrated coffee bean flavors and cooler air for a hard, flavorful bean.

Popular coffee-producing regions here include:

  • Mexico: As a large global supplier, Mexican coffee has tastes reminiscent of green grapes, chocolate, and citrus.
  • Guatemala: Guatemalan coffee beans taste like chocolate, apple, and cherry and come from mountainous, volcanic regions. Some beans are large enough to be called elephant beans.
  • Honduras: Honduran coffee beans produce a brew full of honey, almond, and chocolate flavors with steady acidity. Beans here are grown in multiple elevations and conditions.
  • Nicaragua: Coffee beans hail from northern and central Nicaragua and produce a nutty, apple, and pear taste.

South America

South American beans range in flavors, often complemented by the warm sun and dedicated farming techniques:

  • Brazil: Brazil achieves its nutty and chocolatey flavors through the dry method, which dries coffee beans in the sun to bring out concentrated flavors.
  • Colombia: Colombian coffee beans are full-bodied and full of flavors like grapefruit, oak, and brazil nut.
  • Peru: Coffee from Peru is aromatic and medium-bodied, with notes of chocolate, honey, and black tea.


African coffee is distinctive and easily recognizable for its floral, fruity flavors that come from the region’s mineral-rich soil:

  • Ethiopia: Many consider Ethiopia the birthplace of coffee. The region uses the washed process to create complex flavors with strawberry, blueberry, and chocolate notes.
  • Uganda: Ugandan beans taste like red berry, plum, and peach. The region is known for its robusta offerings, but arabica beans are becoming more available.
Many Consider Ethiopia the Birthplace of Coffee


Southeast Asia is a large coffee supplier, with popular beans coming from:

  • Papua New Guinea: Papua New Guinea’s balanced beans offer a complex, unique flavor profile of cedar, bell pepper, and lemony acidity.
  • Sumatra: Sumatra beans are known worldwide for their spicy, woody, and earthy flavors.

Single-Origin vs. Multiple Origin Blends

Single-origin beans come from a single region, typically a single farm, and offer a flavor-forward taste that tells a story of the bean’s production and growing region. Bean taste and availability vary, depending on the season and changing growing conditions, like soil nutrients, sunlight exposure, and moisture levels. No two brews of a single-origin coffee will ever taste the same. Single-origin coffee produces a one-of-a-kind cup that many brand owners and specialty coffee enthusiasts seek.

Multiple origin blends combine the best flavors from your favorite bean-producing regions to create a truly unique and consistent flavor, with the best of each region highlighted in the brew. They come from different farms and regions, and you can tailor the blend to contain flavors that complement each other in new ways. Multiple origin blends are easier to reproduce year round if consistency is important to your brand.

Roast Profiles

Coffee Bean Roast Profiles

The amount of time that your coffee beans spend in the roaster, and the way in which heat is applied during the process, will have a tremendous impact on the flavor of your coffee. Here are the main roast profiles to choose from.

Light Roast

Light roast beans produce a milder-tasting coffee with low acid. The beans are not roasted for as long — until the first crack — so the color is much lighter with no surface oil. Light roast coffee is slightly more caffeinated than darker roasts and retains a lot of the bean’s original flavors.

Medium Roast

This roast takes the flavor up a notch and may be the roast you’re most familiar with, as standard brands choose medium roast for their beans. The beans are a medium-brown color with minimal or no noticeable surface oils. The aromatic flavor is more acidic and strikes a balance between retaining the bean’s original flavor and adapting some of the roast flavors the bean absorbs until it’s pulled just before the second crack.

Medium-Dark Roast

Medium-dark coffee beans have a darker color, with some oil beginning to show on their surface. The heavy body flavor is much richer than light roast coffee, and the brew is richer than medium roast but not quite as bold and deep as a dark roast.

Dark Roast

You can recognize dark roast beans by their dark brown or blackish shiny surface and oily texture. These beans are perfect for robust coffee flavors and make exceptional espresso, thanks to their bold, deep, and smooth flavor with minimal acid. Dark roast beans roast until the end of the second crack, infusing them with a smokier flavor.

Flavored Coffees

Flavored coffee is coated with delicious flavor compounds that enhance its natural taste. Added flavor can also help extend the shelf life of your coffee beans. Flavored coffee is great as an after-dinner refreshment and is often used for holidays and special occasions.

Roasters add flavor to the bean by spraying a specially formulated flavored oil to the mixture after the beans are done roasting. These manufactured flavors, like cinnamon or chocolate cake, soak into the beans and complement the existing natural flavors, like cherry or almond notes. The end result is a delicious blend you can tailor to match the seasons, holidays, and other customer wants.

Today, coffee can be produced with almost any flavor imaginable. Some of the most popular gourmet flavored coffees include:

  • Hazelnut
  • French vanilla
  • Salted caramel
  • Pumpkin spice
  • Peppermint
  • Creme brulee
  • Chocolate
  • Coconut
  • Berry
  • Butterscotch
  • Gingerbread
  • Maple
  • Marshmallow
  • Cookies, cakes and pastries
  • Rum
  • Eggnog
  • Nut butter
  • Pistachio

Putting It All Together — How to Choose Coffee Beans for Customers

Think about the flavor of coffee you want to achieve — is it something bold, smokey, and unique? Maybe something light, sweet and fruity? Once you have a general idea of the end product you want to create, work your way through each of the above categories to tweak the combination until you reach your ideal taste.

One way to start your search is to narrow your bean type down to a specific region, depending on the flavor profile you want. For example, if you know you want deep notes of chocolate or nuts, you might begin sampling beans from Brazil or Honduras.

If you find the flavor you love in one of these regions, dive even further by sampling individual farmers’ offerings until you find the perfect single-origin brew.

Can’t decide between regions? Consider sourcing your top contenders from different areas for a one-of-a-kind blend your customers won’t find anywhere else.

Sourcing From Different Areas

Once you’ve chosen your bean blend, determine what roast level your customers will enjoy most and use that to customize the roasting length and temperature. If you’re aiming for a light roast, the roaster will pull the beans earlier than if you want a dark, oily bean.

How to Create the Best Coffee Blend for Your Customer

You know how to pick coffee beans and put it all together for your brand’s ideal brew, but how do you know what your customers will line the aisles for? Consider the following:

  • Identify your customers: Who are your target customers? What do they value? Maybe they are sourcing coffee to offer their local family-run cafe or servicing individual shoppers at big box stores looking for a tasty morning brew. If you know who your customers are — and who their target customers are — you can tailor each part of the creation process to appeal to their wants, needs and budget.
  • Know your competitors: You know you have the best coffee around, but how do you grab customers’ attention? Look closely at what your competitors are doing. Where do they source their beans? Look at their best sellers and which roasts they offer. Strike a balance between meeting the standards and expectations your competitors have created in the market while offering something unique that no one else has available.
  • Attend coffee tastings: Find the perfect coffee blend by attending tastings at each level of the process. For example, many coffee bean farms or processing facilities in different countries have samples available for tasting so you can get better acquainted with their flavors. You can then attend tastings at your roaster’s facility to find the ideal balance between flavor, roast and blend.
  • Get feedback: Get feedback from your target customers by sending out surveys and getting a better look at what they love about your product and what areas you can continue improving to win their loyalty and offer the best possible bean.

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