Lots of people worldwide at least once had a question about what coffee is and where it comes from. One of the most well-known and popular legends about coffee is the first person who tried it. It tells about the Ethiopian goat herder Kaldi who saw a tree with unusual berries and decided to try them. The berries gave him some energy boost. After it, coffee started its journey to popularity and fame.

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Nowadays, coffee is one of the most popular drinks worldwide, as well as one of the most widely grown plants cultivated in more than 70 countries.

In this article, we will tell you everything that you need and want to know about coffee and coffee beans starting from beans’ shape and ending with a number of biological factors. 

What Is a Coffee Bean

It can be surprising, but the truth is that coffee beans aren’t actually beans. In fact, they are closer to fruit seeds than beans. There are coffee cherries that grow on the trees and coffee beans that we use to make coffee grow inside those cherries, which means that they are seeds.

Coffee cherries grow on trees that can be as high as 9 meters. However, most manufacturers prefer to prune and stump them to increase the harvesting potential of these plants. The reason is that smaller trees tend to produce more coffee cherries and, as a result, more beans. 

Usually, coffee plants need about three or even four years to produce cherries and the world’s best coffee beans. According to the data, an average tree produces approximately 10 lbs of coffee cherries annually. It means that you can get about 2 lbs of coffee beans from one tree every year. 

Of course, it varies depending on the type of coffee tree, as each separate type has its specific characteristics. 

Benefits of Coffee Beans

High-quality organic coffee beans have a variety of health benefits that make them especially valuable and popular.

Increase Mental Activity

Coffee beans contain plenty of caffeine that can increase the activity of your brain significantly. It makes your brain works faster and more effectively. Just brew a fresh cup of coffee with one of those powerful espresso makers and make your brain work all day long. 

Boost Energy

Benefits of Coffee Beans

Coffee is one of the most popular morning drinks as it can boost your energy significantly. It is a good option to start your day if you need to be active and energized.

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Help Burn Fat

Caffeine in coffee beans can increase your metabolism, which means that you can burn your body fat faster.

Protect From Various Diseases

It is a proven fact that regular coffee consumption can protect you from a number of diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer and Parkinson’s. 

How Do Coffee Beans Work

Coffee beans grow on evergreen trees that in the wild can grow pretty high. Usually, coffee trees grow in the so-called “Bean Belt.” It is an area along the equator that stretches from the Tropics of Capricon and to the Tropics of Cancer, including the Middle East, Central and South America, and Africa. 

Coffee cherries that grow on the plants help beans grow and develop, providing them with the required protection and nutrients. Each cherry usually contains two coffee beans or actually seeds.

As soon as the cherries become ripe enough, coffee farmers harvest them to extract the seeds that will become delicious coffee later. After it, cherries are dried and beans are extracted from them. Later, beans are roasted and sent to places where they will be packed or ground and later packed and delivered to stores, supermarkets, and coffee shops. 

Pros and Cons of Coffee Beans


  • Coffee beans can increase your physical performance.
  • Coffee beans increase metabolism that helps burn some body fat and lose weight.
  • Coffee beans can increase your concentration and help you stay focused.
  • Regular consumption of coffee reduces the risk of heart diseases and cancer.
  • Coffee can significantly reduce the risk of premature death.
  • Coffee consumption reduces the risk of diabetes, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.


  • Low quality or not, fresh coffee beans can be toxic.
  • Excessive coffee consumption can be dangerous and even may cause death.
  • Excessive coffee drinking can lead to insomnia and restlessness.
  • Coffee drinking is not good for pregnant women and children.
  • Coffee consumption is prohibited for people with a high cholesterol level.

Types of Coffee Beans

There are two main and most popular coffee bean types – Arabica and Robusta. They have a number of differences that you need to consider. First of all, they have different habitats and climate preferences. Also, they have different beans’ sizes as well as flavors and aromas. Below, you can learn more about each of these types. 


Types of Coffee Beans

This type of coffee mainly grows at high altitudes where the temperature reaches about 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Arabica is known for its small caffeine content that results in moderate acidity and small bitterness, perfect for an incredible cold brew coffee

These beans have an oval rather flat shape with a wavy crack in the middle. This type of coffee is rather delicate and requires lots of effort to be grown and cultivated. One other reason why it is so valuable and hard to grow is that it is highly susceptible to various diseases and pests.  


Robusta usually grows in lower altitudes and a bit higher temperature that reaches up to 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit. These beans have higher caffeine content than Arabica that makes them more bitter. Also, it is one of the main reasons why Robusta is considered less valuable than Arabica. Nevertheless, it is a very popular edition for blends designed for espressos and espresso-based drinks. It has a smoother texture and more smoky flavor that is great for delicious French roast coffee

Also, it is a great option for people who prefer stronger coffee and look for something that can provide them with more caffeine boost. 

Anatomy of a Coffee Bean

Have you ever thought about what the anatomy of a coffee bean is?  You can think that it is very simple – just cherry and a bean but actually, it is more complicated. The main parts of the coffee fruit are a coffee bean (seed): the silver Skin, Parchment, Pulp, and the outer skin or pericarp.

While a coffee bean itself is not so big, it actually contains lots of natural compounds such as fiber, amino acids or proteins, minerals, carbohydrates, pectin, caffeine, and antioxidants. 

Bean (Seed)

A coffee bean is a seed that is covered with red or rarely purple pulp and skin. Coffee fruits are similar to regular cherries and are known as stone fruit. 

Parchment (Endocarp)

Parchment or endocarp consists of 3-7 layers that cover the bean and protects it from damage. 

Mucilage (Mesocarp)

Mucilage or mesocarp is also known as the “flesh” of the coffee fruit. The main thing about this part of a coffee cherry is that it is very sweet due to the high sugar content and it has a great impact on the taste of the bean. 

Outer Skin (Exocarp)

Exocarp is the outer skin of the fruit that covers coffee cherries. When fruits only start to develop and grow, they have green skin, but when they mature, it turns yellow and eventually becomes red when the fruits are ripe. 

Silver Skin

The silver skin consists of a layer of cellulose that protects a bean inside a coffee cherry. 


The coffee bean itself consists of two parts or layers. The endosperm is the outer layer of a coffee bean. Actually, the endosperm is the main part of a bean that develops during the fertilization process.


The embryo is the second inner part of a coffee bean. Basically, it is a heart of a coffee bean. It grows and develops due to the nutrients that it gets from the endosperm that surrounds the embryo. 

Compounds of a Coffee Bean

Compounds of a Coffee Bean

As we mentioned before, coffee beans contain numerous compounds and nutrients. The most important thing is that those compounds are beneficial for our bodies. Below, you can find more information about those compounds that can be found in coffee. 

Amino Acids

It is a well-known fact that amino acids are important for protein building in the human body, but the same goes for coffee beans. Free amino acids disappear from coffee beans during the roasting process, but still, there are plenty of these acids in your coffee. It contains glycine, glutamic acid, and aspartic acid.


About 50% of a coffee bean – it os carbohydrates. This type of soluble sugars consists of sucrose, glucose, and fructose that become especially prominent after the roasting process. 


One of the nutrients that can be found in coffee is fibers. It can be found in brewed coffee and this nutrient is especially good when it comes to other nutrients absorption and cholesterol control. 


While the amount is rather small but still a variety of minerals can be found in coffee beans. The list includes such minerals as zinc, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, and potassium. Moreover, there are such vitamins as thiamin, folate, vitamin B-6, niacin, and riboflavin. 


According to numerous medical articles and publications, coffee beans contain lots of antioxidants. These compounds are very important as they can reduce the risks as well as effects of colon and liver cancer, diabetes type 2, cirrhosis of the liver, gall stones, Alzheimer and Parkinson’s diseases. 

Moreover, together with magnesium which contains in coffee, these antioxidants can significantly reduce sugar levels in your blood. 


The last but not the least compound of coffee beans are, of course, caffeine. The amount of caffeine in coffee beans depends on the type of beans. Actually, the weight of coffee beans depends on caffeine; the heavier the bean is, the higher the amount of caffeine in the bean.

Coffee Bean Rating Terms

If you check the package of coffee beans, you can see many different terms that identify the quality of your coffee. The list includes AA, Altura, Excelso, Hard Bean, SHB, SSB, and Supremo. Usually, these terms are used to identify the size of the beans, but they may be used for some other features. 


This abbreviation is used to designate the beans that are abnormally large and have some specific features. Some of them are so big that they cannot even be properly ground as they cannot penetrate grade sieves. Also, this term is related to the coffee aroma. 

Coffee Bean Rating Terms


Excelso coffee grade is mainly widely used in Colombia, but it is also rather popular in a number of other coffee regions. It is used to describe pretty large coffee beans; however, Excelso can penetrate through grade 16 sieves contrary to AA beans. Unlike AA, this term is also related to taste. 


While being widely used in numerous countries, the Supremo term is especially popular in Columbia to grade the size of coffee beans. Supremo coffee beans are usually much larger than Excelso beans. 

This term is used to describe beans that can penetrate a grade 18 sieve. The most important thing is that both Supremo and Excelso beans can grow on the same tree, but they are separated during the sorting process. As well as Excelso, Supremo is related to coffee taste. 


This term is used to describe coffee that is grown in mountain regions at high altitudes. The term itself comes from Spanish.

This type of coffee bean has a size that is either at a specialty level or below it. Also, it can be related to coffee anatomy especially such features as beans’ hardness or softness. When it comes to Altura grade, it refers not only to the size of the beans but also to a bunch of other features. 

Ranking Coffee Beans by Grades

The grading system presented below is mainly used by the Specialty Coffee Association of America. It is a separate system that is used to rank different types of coffee. It differs from all other systems because of the list of features that should be considered during the beans grading. 

Hard Bean (HB)

This term is used for coffee beans that grow at about 4000ft over sea level. Due to the altitude, this coffee has a longer maturity period which means that the fruit needs more time to ripe. It results in harder and heavier coffee beans. 

Considering all these factors, such beans are called Hard Beans or Hard Grown. They tend to be pretty expensive and have a very pleasant flavor. 

Strictly Hard Bean (SHB)

This type of beans grows at an altitude of 4500ft above sea level or higher. It is much similar to HB, but the maturation period of these beans is longer. As a result, they tend to be even harder and heavier. The main feature of these beans is a very pleasant taste that is especially popular among coffee lovers. 

One more important thing about this type of beans is that they are pretty expensive. SHB is also known as SHG, which means Strictly High Grown. 

Strictly Soft Bean (SSB)

This term is used for coffee beans grown at lower altitudes that are less than 4000ft above sea level. They have a rather short maturation period which results in a softer and denser bean structure. 

How to Determine a Coffee Bean Size

How to Determine a Coffee Bean Size

Most coffee manufacturers use the same screen sorting system to grade and categorize coffee beans depending on their size. This method is based on the idea that bigger coffee beans grow at higher altitudes.

This grading system is widely used worldwide and proves the concept that the size of the bean significantly depends on its weight and quality.

For the bean size screen sorting method, manufacturers use special metal stripes with holes of different sizes from 8 to 20. These stripes are called screens. The holes on the stripes correlate with the specific number over 64 and are inches.  In other words, if a coffee bean fits in a hole with the number 10, its size is 10/64 of an inch. Below, you can find the grading system for Arabica beans that are used all over the world.

Step 1 – Size 20

These are the largest coffee beans that are also known as elephants.

Step 2 – Size 18-16

These are pretty large beans that are also often called Superior Supremo or AA. The term itself varies from one region to another. 

Step 3 – Size 14

These beans are medium-sized ones. If you check some packages from different manufacturers, you can see that they are also called Segundos, Excelso, or AB. The name varies from one region to another.

Step 4 – Size 12

This size indicates small coffee beans. They are also often called Caracols.

Step 5 – Size 11-8

This size range includes only so-called shells. In simple words, it is peels and other parts of coffee cherries that aren’t suitable for coffee production. 


Do’s and Don’ts With Coffee Beans


  • Keep in mind that coffee grade influences its flavor and aroma.
  • Coffee has a bunch of benefits, but you need to consume it cautiously.
  • Pay attention to the altitude of the coffee growth as it impacts the taste.


  • Don’t forget that Robusta contains more caffeine.
  • Never forget to check coffee features before purchasing it.

FAQ About Coffee Beans

Are coffee beans actually beans?

Actually, coffee beans are not exactly the beans but seeds that grow inside coffee cherries. 

What are the best-rated coffee beans?

The best-rated coffee beans are Strictly Hard Beans and Altura beans. These are beans that are grown at high altitudes and have an especially pleasant flavor and aroma. Try to brew those beans using your premium portable coffee maker or make your coffee at the comfort of your home. By the way, you should consider trying a dual coffee maker that has multiple brew strengths.

Should coffee beans be dull or shiny?

In fact, it is not really good if coffee beans have shiny, oily surfaces. Such beans lose much flavor and tend to be stale have a flat aroma and taste. 

How long do coffee beans last?

Freshly roasted beans can be stored for about 2-3 weeks. However, this time reduces significantly and ground coffee lasts for about an hour when it comes to ground coffee. 

Why are my coffee beans so oily?

Coffee beans become oily due to a chemical reaction between coffee compounds and oxygen. Due to this process, the coffee loses its flavor. 

Do different coffee beans grind differently?

Coffee beans grind differently for sure due to their specific hardness level. Also, the grinding type depends on the roast level of coffee beans. 


As you can see, there are many things to know and consider when it comes to coffee beans. All these features and points have a significant impact on coffee flavor and aroma. All these aspects allow adding a flavor to your coffee. However, using our guide, you can easily identify the best type of coffee beans that can provide you with a delicious and rich brew. 

Photos from: DmitryPoch / depositphotos.com, sarymsakov / depositphotos.com, msk_nina / depositphotos.com, nimon_t / depositphotos.com, studioM / depositphotos.com and Patryk_Kosmider / depositphotos.com.

Love drinking great coffee? If you want a tasty, freshly roasted bean you can buy online, try something from LifeBoost and thank me later. Click here to check it out and save 50%.