23 Asian coffee beans and brews to fuel your daily grind
From Sulawesi to Batangas, Asia offers a rich blend of coffee flavours to savour and experience. Coffee lovers, this one's for you.
Around the 9th century, coffee cultivation started in Ethiopia. Asia was charmed by these beans by the 16th century when it reached the Middle East. And so the earliest types of Asian coffee were born and developed into a rich blend of flavour that's inspired generations of coffee lovers.
Coffee beans have traveled a long way from Ethiopia. Now, coffee is well loved by people worldwide. No matter where you are from, chances are that you or a majority of the people you know enjoys a good cup of coffee at least once a day.
More than just a morning pick-me-up, it can be an energy booster, and mood lifter throughout the day. Not to mention, it offers a culinary experience all on its own.
Below are some of the types of Asian coffee that you can try and facts that you ought to know about coffee. Make your next coffee session interesting by knowing what’s in your coffee cup!
23 Types of Asian Coffee Beans and Brews
Coffee beans differ on several aspects including bean morphology (structure), organoleptic properties (full sensory experience), and chemical composition. However, the quality of the coffee beverage is usually dependent on the proportion of both varieties in the blend.
4 Species of Coffee
This coffee species is dominantly cultivated worldwide (60% of the world’s coffee production) for the best-tasting, diffused with rich, subtle flavour of coffee. Also, it has a fruity and floral flavour that we all love and are familiar with, as most coffee shops use Arabica.
Vietnam is known to produce the most significant Robusta. This type of coffee has been found to have a higher caffeine content than Arabica. Because it has 2.7% caffeine content, it is stronger than other types of Asian coffee. However, it is less acidic. In terms of affordability, Robusta is much cheaper than Arabica.
Liberica hails from Southeast Asia (Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia). Of the varieties of coffee, Liberica has larger coffee beans that possess a smoky and nutty taste when roasted and brewed. Certainly, this is one of the types of Asian coffee you must try.
Excelsa grows mostly in Southeast Asia and makes up 7% of the world’s coffee circulation. And it is mainly used to give your coffee blend an extra boost of flavour and complexity. Though it is considered a member of the Liberica family, some coffee aficionados consider it to be a variety all on its own.
Aside from coffee species, there are also more distinct types of coffee...
Considered as a high-quality coffee bean, Typica (typical) is known for its sweetness and good *cup quality. Is this name familiar? This is because you have likely seen this name on the tag of most commercial coffee brands across Asia!
*Coffee cupping (coffee tasting) is the act of observing coffee's taste and aroma.
Often called as the “King of Coffee in Sumatra”, Sidikalang derives its name from the capital city in District Dairi, North Sumatra. However, its flavour and aroma are at par with that of the soft and nutty Brazilian coffee.
7. Bergendal/Sumatra Typica
This coffee variety is highly susceptible to coffee leaf rust disease and it also needs coffee shade trees*. However, Bergendal has an excellent flavour profile and is known for its fruity and herbal taste.
*Coffee leaf rust is a plant disease caused by the fungi, Hemileia vastatrix. It infects susceptible coffee plants which cause the decrease to its quantity and quality properties which may lead to the plant's removal.
This type of Asian coffee is called “Tim Tim or Bor Bor” in Indonesia. This coffee bean is a hybrid of Arabica and Robusta, which was cultivated because of its resistance to coffee leaf rust and was first grown on the island of Timor around the 1940s.
The French first planted coffee on the island of Bourbon (Reunion) in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Since then, it has widely grown wild in Rwanda for a hundred years now. Bourbon is known for its rich, deep-chocolatey flavour with hints of butter and light fruit overtones.
10. Laos Naga
Laos Naga is a variety of Arabica, which is traditionally grown by the local Laven (Lao) tribe of Laos for a century now. This coffee plant has an earthy and a bit of spice notes, particularly when enjoyed hot.
Those who have tried Cattura note its acidity, less clarity, sweetness and lemony taste. This is one of the types of Asian coffee that's a breed of Bourbon. Since Cattura is highly susceptible to coffee leaf rust, farmers tend to grow them in cold areas.
Catimor is a hybrid of Caturra and Timor, which is a robusta from Indonesia. It is called “Cauvery” in India. Catimor gives out a herbal and fruity flavor. Also, it has a low acidity content and can be quite bitter.
Java is from the island of Java in Indonesia which was first introduced by the Dutch in the 1600s. Its taste is quite basic and flat. As a result, coffee experts blend it with other components to make a more complex concoction.
Fun fact: This coffee variety was once widely traded that "java" eventually caught on as a widely used slang word for coffee.
Mocha is a coffee bean harvested from Mocha, Yemen. It is a very small, hard, round and irregular bean with an olive green to pale yellow colour.
*Note: This is different from the choco-flavoured caffe latte that you usually order!
Its local variety name is Jember. This coffee variety is created by crossing Kent and S288. It has a few notes of caramel for taste and has a great cupping profile.
Sarchimor has a touch of the Timor variety, which makes it resistant to coffee leaf rust. What's more, it has a brown-sugary sweetness and a few citrus notes. Farmers grow them in Costa Rica as well as in India.
17. Selection 9
This coffee plant is a cross between Tafarikela and Timor. Those who produce this coffee plant, which is typically cultivated in India, take pride in its superior cup quality traits.
Sulawesi is a variety of Jember and is grown in the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia. It has a rich, full body.
What's more, it has a well-balanced acidity. Of all the types of Sulawesi coffee, the most prominent is Toraja, which is also known as Celebes coffee.
19. Sumatra Mandheling
Those who have tried this Asian coffee tout its smooth taste and heavy body. Mandheling often gives off an intensely sweet flavour of chocolate, herbal notes (cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom).
What's more, it even gives off some licorice hints, which makes its flavour quite interesting!
20. Sumatra Lintong
Lintong coffee is sweet in taste and low in acid. Also, it has a distinct cedar and spiced flavor, which distinguishes it from other types of Asian coffee. Yes, it somehow has a dark chocolate taste which can make your coffee cup intriguing!
21. Kapeng Barako
This is a coffee variety grown in Batangas and Cavite, Philippines. Kapeng Barako is a variety of Liberica.
This bold-tasting, aromatic coffee derives its name from the Spanish word “varraco”, which means wild boar---an animal fond of eating its leaves and berries.
22. Vietnamese coffee
Vietnamese coffee is almost always Robusta and is obtained by drip which makes it very thick. The makers of this coffee intentionally over-roast it, making it quite bitter.
The traditional way to enjoy this coffee is with milk and ice. You can find this beverage at many hawker stalls and coffee shops along the streets of Vietnam.
23. Kopi Luwak
Kopi Luwak*, which is also called civet coffee or kape motit by Filipinos, is mainly produced on the islands of Sumatra, Java, Bali, and Sulawesi in Indonesia and some farms in the Philippines.
This type of coffee collected from the coffee cherries eaten and defecated by the Asian Palm Civet. Yes, it may be from dung, but people describe it as quite pleasant-tasting, smooth and less bitter than regular coffee.
Fun fact: Kopi Luwak is a form of processing rather than a variety of coffee and is one of the most expensive coffees in the world with a retail price reaching about $700 per kilogram!
Which of these types of Asian coffee is your favourite? Make it today!