Opening a coffee shop: knowing the types of coffee
“Knowing what you sell” is the first rule of a successful business that can be applied in every field, including coffee.
Opening a coffee shop means, first of all, being extremely passionate about this beverage, which offers intense moments of taste, either alone or in the company of others.
This passion must go hand in hand with in-depth knowledge of the raw material: in order to present the coffee served in your café, establishment or coffee shop in the best possible way and to form a trusting relationship with your customers, it is essential to stand out from the competition, using quality blends such as Attibassi’s, and be able to fully master technical know-how regarding coffee, starting with the types of plants found in nature.
Coffee suppliers to cafés must be very well-trained and ready to give their customers all the necessary information so that, with their expertise, they can achieve excellent sales results.
The coffee plant (Coffea) belongs to the Dicotyledon group, which, in turn, belongs to the Phanerogam group. It is an evergreen shrub that can grow up to 10 metres high (from a botanical point of view, it is classified as a tree) and is widespread in all tropical regions. What we generally call a “coffee bean” is nothing more than the seed contained in the drupe, the fruit of the plant: red in colour, it looks and is shaped like a cherry.
While there are many coffee species around the world (more than 50), only two, Arabica and Robusta, are generally used for commercial production.
They are the ones produced and marketed by Attibassi, with its many years of experience.
Types of coffee beans
A brief analysis of coffee beans reveals that they can be divided into three types depending on the stage of processing and production:
– “Cherry“, when the coffee bean has been freshly harvested, with its characteristic red colour.
– We talk about “Parchment suka”, instead, after being harvested and once the seed and skin have been separated, coffee beans have a covering called parchment, which helps to preserve them well and is removed prior to roasting.
– Finally, we talk about “Block Beans” when coffee has just been washed and is therefore still wet.
Arabica is the most popular species and blend, which has been grown and selected for several centuries: it is the finest species of coffee and accounts for 75% of global coffee production. Originating in the mountainous regions of Ethiopia, Arabica coffee types have a very mellow taste, are slightly acidic and hints of chocolate can often be detected.
They have an intense aroma and a hazelnut-coloured cream with reddish hues and a pleasant bitter note.
Arabica grows well in mineral-rich soils, especially those of volcanic origin.
This plant is very sensitive to heat and humidity: it grows at altitudes between 900 and 2,000 metres above sea level and the climate must not exceed 20°C. The higher the altitude of cultivation, the better the organoleptic properties of the roasted beans.
Arabica beans have an elongated shape, with a slightly S-shaped groove. They are copper green in colour, more or less intense, with shades that veer towards light blue: the amount of caffeine contained varies from 1.2% to 1.7%.
The most well-known Arabica variety is called “Moka”, which is grown mainly in Yemen, Arabia. It gets its name from the flourishing port city of Mocha, which exported coffee between the 15th and 19th centuries: it is characterised by small beans and a strong aroma. Other varieties are, for example, “Typica”, the one widespread in Brazil, and “Bourbon” and “Maragogipe”, characterised by very large beans.
Robusta is characterised, as the name suggests, by a higher dose of caffeine: almost twice as much stimulating substance as Arabica.
Those who choose it prefer it due to its more intense and slightly more bitter taste. Robusta-based coffees are “sharper”, more astringent, less fragrant and more bitter, with a brown cream tending towards grey. In addition, its name also refers to the resistance of this plant to hot climates and pests, which, for example, destroyed hectares of Arabica crops in the 19th century, forcing local populations to cultivate other species.
Widespread in tropical lowlands, it grows at altitudes ranging from 200 to 600 metres. Similar to the Arabica plant, its branches bend downwards in the shape of an umbrella, continuously flowering throughout the year. The Robusta plant also grows on plains. Discovered in the Congo, it was immediately appreciated for its high production in relation to the lower cost of planting, and for its resistance to diseases and suboptimal conditions.
Robusta beans are more rounded, with a very straight groove, pale green in colour with grey nuances: the caffeine content is higher and varies between 1.6% and 3.2%. Roasting releases a stronger aroma than Arabica.
Some varieties obtained by crossing Robusta varieties are very common in India, West Africa, Uganda and Indonesia. There is also an Arabusta variety, a cross between the Arabica and Robusta varieties.