Most people around the world will agree, a cup of freshly-brewed coffee is the best way to start the day. However, for a few of you out there, words like latte or espresso are just not enough. A true coffee connoisseur wants to know precisely what goes into their cup.
Well, why not start with the age-old comparison of Arabica vs Colombian? If you want to know more about the distinctions between them, this post will cover them all.
Arabica vs Colombian: What Are They?
Before getting into the more subtle differences between the two beans, a brief overview of them is vital. The reason why these beans tend to confuse even coffee enthusiasts is that they are pretty similar. Both Arabica and Colombian are specialty coffee beans with high market demand.
As their names imply, the main distinction between them lies in their place of origin. While the Arabica coffee plant originates in Arabia, Colombian beans grow in, you guessed it, Colombia!
A noteworthy aspect of these two beans is that they come from the same species, the Coffee Arabica plant. However, due to climate differences, the Colombian variant of this plant is slightly different than usual. In Colombia, the tropical climate keeps the Arabica plant from growing to its typical height.
The key takeaway here is that people may cultivate Arabica beans in various countries around the world. However, Colombian bean cultivation takes place only within Colombia itself.
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While there is a significant difference between the Arabica and Columbian plant, the average coffee lover worries more about taste. The size of the plant or the soil variety is the least of their concerns. So let us consider the flavor profile of the two beans in a bit more detail.
As the two beans come from the same plant species, some may have the misconception that they taste similar. However, the soil in which the beans grow affects the taste far more than you may realize. Also, let us not overlook the role of climate.
A little fun fact to remember is that coffee newbies tend to interchange notes and flavors. For instance, since Arabica beans smell similar to blueberries, many expect them to taste that way too. However, that is not quite what you get.
With Arabica coffee beans, you can expect a fruity, almost berry-like tone. Quite naturally then, the taste is a blend between sweet and acidic. Depending on where it grows, it would not be surprising to find hints of vanilla or honey tones too!
Rich Colombian soil is the perfect geographic location for cultivating superior coffee beans. They are low in caffeine and acidic content, giving them a smoother flavor profile. Colombian coffee usually tastes sweet and chocolatey with a touch of fruity tones, like caramel, apple, or berries.
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The area of cultivation and characteristics of the plant do contribute significantly to the flavor profile. However, if you think the list ends there, think again. Another factor that plays a role in developing the taste of a coffee bean is its processing. Typically coffee beans undergo one of two kinds of processing: wet or dry processing.
Dry processing, the traditional method, involves picking the coffee fruit from the plant and drying it with the seed intact. Once entirely dried out, you remove the green beans from within. Arabica coffee beans typically undergo this form of processing once picked, giving them a robust flavor.
Colombian coffee beans, however, go through wet processing. Many also refer to this method as washing because that is, in fact, the additional step. After picking, a pulper mashes the coffee fruit leaving the pit coated in the pulp. So the next stage of processing involves washing this pulp off the cherry pit or the coffee bean.
The final stage in this process involves roasting the beans according to preference. So, wet processing requires quite a bit of skill. The method also enhances the exotic flavor of the Colombian coffee bean while reducing caffeine and acid content.
Nutritional value is one area where the Arabica and Colombian coffee beans are not that different. Here is an overview of the nutritional content you can expect from these two beans.
Antioxidants: Both these beans are pretty rich in antioxidant content, giving them anti-inflammatory properties. So consuming them means a lesser risk of chronic diseases.
Phytochemicals: These are plant compounds that have high chlorogenic and quinic acid content. Along with having a similar effect to antioxidants, these nutrients may also eradicate irregular cells to prevent cancer.
Vitamins And Minerals: You will find several minerals like manganese, riboflavin, niacin, and more in both coffee bean varieties.
Caffeine: Unlike other types of coffee, both Arabica and Colombian hold back on the caffeine. While not inherently bad, too much caffeine can be harmful as it causes insomnia and anxiety.
Do keep in mind that the nutritional content can vary a bit due to factors like rain, sun, and soil. That said, both these beans are some of the healthier varieties of coffee. So even if you suffer from some health issues, you can consume these blends without worrying.
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Which Costs More?
When it comes to Arabica and Colombian beans, you can expect to pay a pretty penny for both. The two may seem pricey compared to the average coffee bean, but you must factor in the quality. Both these beans offer a superior quality that reflects in their price. However, you may wonder which is costlier out of the two.
Well, to cut straight to the chase, it is the Colombian bean. Arabica coffee beans can differ quite a bit in price due to their cultivation around the world. That said, they are on the cheaper side in comparison to Colombian beans.
You may find this surprising since the two coffee beans are so similar to one another. However, price is another factor affected by processing besides flavor and aroma. Due to the extra step of washing, processing Colombian beans means investing more time and effort.
So without a doubt, Colombian coffee beans are worthy of the higher price tag. After all, these beans undergo an almost artisan process, with each bean getting special attention during processing. Not to mention, the method also requires a fair amount of skill.
Arabica coffee beans are likely the most popular variant in the United States. For this reason, they may make an appearance across various styles of brewing.
If a traditional Arabic brewing process is more your style, you will need the right kind of Arabica beans. These coffee beans should undergo authentic dry processing to give you that thick, strong cup of coffee. You may also supplement the coffee with flavors like cinnamon, cardamom, or saffron for a unique taste.
The key to preparing Arabica coffee is to remember that the process is similar to how you brew tea. So for this style of coffee, adding ingredients like sugar and milk boil down to personal preferences.
When prepared, let the coffee steep in a pot for a while so you can serve it warm. One thing to keep in mind is that the duration of brewing directly affects the coffee’s strength.
In much the same way, if you would prefer the Colombian style of brewing, try to use actual Colombian beans. For this method, you will need to boil the coffee beans in water to prepare a delicious cup. The most popular styles for brewing these coffee beans seem to be the AeroPress and the Espresso.
However, the list of brewing styles does not end there! You can take your pick from among the French Press, Siphon, Moka Pot, Chemex, cold brew, and the standard drip. Each style of brewing lends a different characteristic touch to your cuppa joe.
There is one more crucial difference to remember when it comes to brewing these two beans. You will have to brew Arabica beans, but Colombian beans are available as instant coffee. That means you can prepare these whole beans instantly for consumption!
Arabica Coffee Facts
A cup of Arabica coffee can be the perfect kickstart to your day with its almost heavenly flavor profile. The ideal blend that is rich, dark, and smooth, it packs the right punch of caffeine without being too bitter.
However, even those who drink a lot of this coffee tend to know little about it. Well, here are a few facts you might find interesting about this aromatic coffee bean.
The coffee beans are, in fact, seeds: You may know them as coffee beans, but in reality, they are seeds of the coffee fruit. They sit in the center of the coffee cherry, much like the pit in a plum. The coffee fruit itself is also edible and ripens to an orange or red color.
Arabica beans have forty-four chromosomes: While regular coffee beans have eleven chromosome pairs, Arabica beans have almost double the amount. Perhaps, it is this count of 44 chromosomes that lends the delicate flavor to these beans.
Cultivators harvest coffee plant cherries individually: Farmers have to be very particular when harvesting coffee cherries as they do not all ripen at once. It is this inspection of individual fruits that makes Arabica coffee beans as pricey as they are.
The beans come from up-high: The best region for cultivating Arabica coffee beans is at high altitudes of at least 2000-6000 ft. above sea level. Not only that, the coffee plants themselves can reach almost 40 ft. tall.
One pound of coffee from one plant: One coffee plant produces around 8,000 beans, which adds up to just a pound of coffee. If this does not already seem less to you, think about this: the Arabica plant matures in about seven years!
Colombian Coffee Facts
Colombian coffee beans are another favorite among coffee connoisseurs due to how rich and flavorful they are. The mild, well-balanced flavor of this coffee can be the perfect wake-up call for early mornings.
For many, though, these coffee beans are nothing more than a variant of the Arabica bean. So here are a few notable facts about Colombian beans that set them apart.
These beans grow in the perfect soil: Experts consider volcanic soil to be the best for cultivating coffee plants. Well, Colombian soil is just that, making it the most suitable place to grow coffee. Volcanic soil also means these beans have a full-bodied and distinct flavor profile that separates them from the rest.
Small farm production: Even though Colombia is one of the largest producers and exporters of coffee, it is yet to turn to mass production. Instead, the nation prides itself on its small farm coffee cultivation, where nearly every bean gets due attention.
Focus on one type of bean: Perhaps, one of the reasons Colombian coffee tastes so much better is that Columbia only grows Arabica beans. Despite the popularity of robusta coffee beans, Colombian farmers do not cultivate them. So there are fewer chances of mixing beans to prepare a cup of coffee.
Harvesting style: Colombian farmers follow the practice of cherry-picking, where each coffee fruit goes through hand-picking. For this reason, Colombian beans tend to be of the highest quality. Other coffee beans that undergo machine-picking cannot boast the same quality because machines cannot tell ripe fruits from unripe ones.
Premium harvest: For many, Colombian coffee beans are a superior variant, so they even have a premium harvest. These beans undergo a more specific picking and constitute only 5-15% of the mix. However, their flavor profile is unparalleled and just irresistible.
Arabica vs Colombian Coffee – Which One Should You Get?
Ultimately, the choice of a coffee bean is a personal one. However, if the nuances of coffee flavor profiles are new to you, we will break them down.
In simple terms, the Arabica coffee bean will be more to your liking if you enjoy a strong cup of coffee. However, if you prefer a milder dose, settling for the Colombian bean might be ideal.
The key takeaway from this is to let your taste buds approve of your coffee blend, depending on flavor!