April 25


Master The Art Of Arabica Coffee Preparation

By Hanson Cheng

April 25, 2023

In this comprehensive guide, readers will learn about the history, origins, and distinct features of Arabica coffee. Discover how to select, store, and properly prepare this beloved bean using various brewing methods and equipment. Gain insight into tasting techniques, flavor profiles, and popular Arabica coffee-based drinks, both hot and cold. From understanding the nuances of this specialty coffee to mastering its preparation, this article offers a complete education for coffee enthusiasts seeking the ultimate Arabica experience.

Arabica Coffee: Origins and Characteristics

History and Origins

Arabica coffee is considered one of the most sought-after coffee types in the world, accounting for approximately 60% of global coffee production. The history and origins of Arabica coffee can be traced back to the highlands of Ethiopia, where it was first discovered and cultivated thousands of years ago.

According to legend, a goat herder named Kaldi first observed the effects of coffee beans on his goats, who were grazing on the berries of the wild coffee trees. The energized behavior of the goats piqued Kaldi’s interest, leading him to try the cherries himself. The invigorating effects of the coffee beans led Kaldi to share his discovery with a local monastery. Eventually, knowledge of the stimulating effects of coffee beans spread across the Arabian Peninsula, reaching Yemen by the 15th century.

Yemeni traders then introduced coffee plants to the local environment and began cultivating the crop extensively. Initially, people used coffee for medicinal and religious purposes, and it was primarily consumed in the form of a beverage called qishr, made from the coffee cherry’s husk. As demand for coffee grew, trade networks expanded throughout the Arabian Peninsula and beyond, which led to the establishment of the famed coffee houses called qahveh khaneh.

From Yemen, coffee spread to other parts of the Islamic world, and its popularity grew across the continents. European explorers encountered coffee in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, which led to its introduction to Western countries. Over time, Arabica coffee became a global commodity, with plantations appearing in various parts of the world, particularly in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

Distinct Features of Arabica Coffee

Arabica coffee is known for its particular characteristics that set it apart from other types of coffee, such as Robusta. Some of the most prominent features include:

  1. Plant morphology: Arabica coffee plants are generally medium-sized shrubs with an open, spreading growth habit. The plants feature large, elongated, and wavy-edged leaves, which are glossy dark green in color. The branches of the plant grow horizontally but slightly drooping towards the ground.
  2. Altitude: Arabica coffee thrives at high altitudes, typically between 800 and 2,200 meters above sea level. These elevations provide cooler temperatures and ample rainfall for the growth of the plants, which contributes to the beans’ unique and complex flavors.
  3. Caffeine content: Arabica beans have a lower caffeine content when compared to Robusta beans – about 1-1.5%. This lower caffeine level contributes to the beans’ more delicate and complex flavor profiles.
  4. Bean shape and size: Arabica beans are generally larger and have a more elongated and oval shape compared to Robusta beans, which are usually smaller and more rounded.
  5. Flavor and acidity: Arabica coffee is known for its smooth and well-balanced flavors, which can range from sweet and fruity to nutty and chocolatey. Arabica beans exhibit higher acidity levels than Robusta beans, often described as a pleasant, wine-like acidity.

Arabica Coffee Varieties and Flavor Profiles

There are numerous Arabica varieties, each with its unique flavor profile and characteristics. Some popular Arabica varieties include:

  1. Typica: Typica is considered the original Arabica variety, from which many other varieties have developed. Typica coffee is characterized by a smooth and well-balanced flavor with mild acidity, notes of chocolate, and a hint of fruitiness.
  2. Bourbon: Bourbon is a natural mutation of the Typica variety, initially discovered on the island of Réunion (formerly named Île Bourbon). Bourbon beans have a higher yield and exhibit a well-rounded and fruity flavor profile with a bright acidity.
  3. Geisha: The Geisha variety originated in Ethiopia and rose to popularity in Panama. This variety is known for its delicate, jasmine-like aroma, fruity notes reminiscent of berries, and a bright, tea-like acidity.
  4. SL28 & SL34: These Kenyan varieties, developed by the Scott Laboratories, are known for their bright, wine-like acidity and fruity flavors, including notes of red currant, blackberry, and citrus.
  5. Caturra: Caturra is a mutation of the Bourbon variety, primarily grown in Central and South America. With a higher yield and resistance to diseases, Caturra beans are known for their bright acidity, medium body, and notes of citrus, caramel, and nuts.

The diversity in Arabica coffee varieties contributes to the endless possibilities of flavor profiles, making it a favorite among coffee enthusiasts and professionals alike. With its rich history, distinct characteristics, and complex flavors, Arabica coffee continues to maintain its reputation as one of the world’s most loved and sought-after coffee types.

Selection and Storage of Arabica Coffee Beans

Choosing the Right Beans

In order to enjoy the best possible cup of Arabica coffee, begin by selecting high-quality beans. There are several factors to consider when choosing the right beans, such as the origin, roast level, and freshness. Beans from different coffee-producing countries, such as Ethiopia, Colombia, or Brazil, will exhibit distinctive flavors and characteristics. Research the flavor profiles and tasting notes from various origins to determine your preferences.

Roast levels are categorized as light, medium, or dark, with each having a different impact on the taste of the coffee. Light roasts retain more of the beans’ origin flavors while dark roasts carry stronger and bolder flavors that are often chocolate, smoky or caramel-like. Medium roasts strike a balance, offering a combination of origin and roast flavors. Experiment with different roast levels to determine your personal preference.

Freshness plays a critical role in the quality of your coffee. Ideally, purchase beans that have been roasted within the last two to four weeks, and avoid beans that have been sitting on the shelf for an extended period. Furthermore, opt for whole beans rather than pre-ground coffee because whole beans have a longer shelf life and preserve the aromatics better.

Storing the Beans to Preserve Freshness

Proper storage of your coffee beans can significantly impact their freshness, flavor, and aroma. To maintain the quality of your beans, follow these guidelines:

1. Store beans in an airtight container: An airtight container will prevent the beans from being exposed to oxygen, which can cause them to go stale. A vacuum-sealed container or one with a one-way valve is ideal.

2. Keep the container in a cool, dark place: Heat, light, and humidity can all negatively affect the beans. Store the container in a pantry or cupboard, away from sunlight and heat sources like the oven, stovetop, or refrigerator.

3. Avoid freezing your beans: Although freezing might seem like an effective way to preserve freshness, the thawing process can cause condensation, which will negatively impact the overall quality of the beans.

Equipment Needed for Arabica Coffee Preparation

Grinders and Grind Size

A consistent and uniform grind is essential for extracting the best flavor from your coffee beans. Invest in a high-quality grinder to achieve consistency in grind size. Burr grinders are preferred over blade grinders because they provide a more even grind, resulting in a better extraction process.

The appropriate grind size is determined by the brewing method you will be using. For example, a coarse grind is required for a French press, while a fine grind is necessary for espresso. It is essential to adjust your grinder according to your chosen brewing method.

Manual Brewing Equipment

There are numerous manual brewing techniques that you can utilize to make your perfect cup of Arabica coffee. Some popular options include:

– Pour-Over Drippers: This method uses a filter and a cone-shaped dripper to allow hot water to pass through the coffee grounds evenly. Brands such as Hario V60 and Chemex are popular for this method.

– French Press: This classic brewing device uses a plunger and metal filter to steep the coffee grounds in hot water, then separate the liquid from the grounds.

– Aeropress: A compact and portable device that uses pressure to extract coffee, similar to espresso machines. It requires a shorter brewing time and can produce a strong, flavorful cup of coffee.

Automatic Brewing Equipment

Automatic brewing machines offer a more convenient way of preparing coffee for those short on time. Some options include:

– Drip Coffee Makers: These machines heat water and distribute it evenly over grounded coffee, which then drips through a filter into a carafe. Drip coffee makers are suitable for making large quantities of coffee quickly.

– Espresso Machines: Using pressure to force hot water through finely ground coffee, espresso machines can produce concentrated and intense coffee. Prices and complexity vary, ranging from affordable stovetop moka pots to expensive, fully automated machines.

Other Essential Tools and Accessories

Additional items that can help elevate your coffee-brewing experience include:

– Scales: Weighing your coffee beans and water can improve consistency and allow you to brew a balanced and flavorful cup of coffee each time.

– Kettle: A gooseneck kettle allows you to control water flow and temperature more precisely, which is crucial for manual brewing methods such as pour-overs.

– Thermometer: Brewing your coffee at the ideal temperature (195°F to 205°F or 90°C to 96°C) can influence the extraction process, leading to a better-tasting cup.

– Timer: Keeping track of brewing time is essential to avoid over or under extracting your coffee.

Arabica Coffee Brewing Methods

Pour-Over Brewing Method

To brew Arabica coffee using a pour-over method, follow these steps:

1. Heat water to the ideal brewing temperature (between 195°F and 205°F, or 90°C to 96°C).

2. Weigh and grind your coffee beans to a medium-fine consistency, suitable for pour-over brewing.

3. Place your filter into the pour-over dripper and wet it with hot water. This will remove any paper taste and preheat the dripper.

4. Discard the hot water, then add your ground coffee to the filter, leveling the surface.

5. Place the dripper on a carafe or cup and tare the scale if using one.

6. Begin by slowly pouring hot water over the grounds, allowing them to bloom (expand and release gases) for about 30 seconds.

7. Continue pouring the water in a circular motion, making sure all grounds are evenly saturated, until you reach the desired water weight or level.

8. Wait for the water to pass through the filter, and once it is complete, enjoy your freshly brewed Arabica coffee.

French Press Brewing Method

Follow these steps to brew Arabica coffee using a French press:

1. Boil water and then let it cool to the ideal brewing temperature.

2. Weigh and coarsely grind the coffee beans, suitable for a French press.

3. Pour the coffee grounds into the French press carafe.

4. Add hot water, pouring slowly and evenly to saturate all grounds. Pour until you reach the desired water level or weight.

5. Stir the mixture gently, ensuring all grounds are submerged and evenly saturated.

6. Place the plunger and lid onto the carafe but do not press it down yet. Allow the coffee to steep for about 4 minutes.

7. After 4 minutes, slowly and steadily press the plunger down, separating the grounds from the coffee.

8. Pour your brewed Arabica coffee into a cup and enjoy it.

Aeropress Brewing Method

To brew Arabica coffee using an Aeropress, follow these steps:

1. Boil water and allow it to cool to the ideal brewing temperature.

2. Weigh and grind your coffee beans to a fine to medium-fine consistency, suitable for an Aeropress.

3. Place a filter in the Aeropress cap and rinse it with hot water.

4. Assemble the Aeropress by placing the plunger at the bottom section, then attaching the cap.

5. Add your ground coffee to the Aeropress chamber.

6. Pour hot water into the chamber until you reach the desired water level or weight.

7. Stir the mixture briefly and place the cap with the filter onto the Aeropress.

8. Position the Aeropress over a cup or container and press down firmly and steadily for about 20 seconds, until the coffee filters through.

9. Enjoy your freshly brewed Arabica coffee.

Popular Arabica Coffee-Based Drinks and Recipes

Arabica coffee beans are acclaimed for their smooth, slightly sweet and acidic flavor profiles, making them a popular choice for a wide range of coffee drinks.

Classic Espresso-Based Drinks


The foundation for many coffee drinks, espresso is prepared by forcing a small amount of hot water through finely ground Arabica coffee beans. A well-pulled espresso shot should be around 25-30ml, have a rich crema on top, and an intense yet balanced flavor.

– Grind 18-20 grams of Arabica coffee beans very finely.
– Tamp the coffee grounds evenly in the portafilter.
– Attach the portafilter to the espresso machine and start the extraction process, aiming for a 25-30ml shot extracted within 25-30 seconds.


This popular drink is comprised of a shot of espresso diluted with hot water, resulting in a similar strength to brewed coffee but with the distinctive flavors of espresso.

– Prepare a shot of espresso as mentioned above.
– Pour 120-180ml of hot water into a cup.
– Add the espresso shot to the hot water.


Creamy and smooth, a cappuccino combines equal amounts of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam, perfectly balancing the flavors of Arabica coffee with sweetness from the milk.

– Prepare a shot of espresso as mentioned above.
– Steam about 120ml of milk, creating a velvety microfoam.
– Pour the steamed milk over the espresso shot while holding back the foam.
– Finally, spoon the milk foam on top of the drink.


Similar to cappuccino but with more milk, a latte has a milder taste and is perfect for those who prefer a creamier coffee experience.

– Prepare a shot of espresso as mentioned above.
– Steam about 240ml of milk, creating a small amount of microfoam.
– Pour the steamed milk over the espresso shot, allowing a small dollop of milk foam to form on top.

Specialty Coffee Recipes

Cafe Mocha:

A delicious combination of espresso, chocolate, and steamed milk, cafe mocha is perfect for those who love a touch of sweetness in their coffee.

– Prepare a shot of espresso as mentioned above.
– Combine the espresso shot with 30ml of chocolate syrup or melted chocolate.
– Steam about 240ml of milk, creating a small amount of microfoam.
– Pour the steamed milk over the chocolate-espresso mixture, stirring to combine.
– Optionally, garnish with whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate syrup.


This simple yet elegant coffee drink is created by serving a shot of espresso with a dollop of milk foam on top, allowing the creamy foam to contrast with the intense flavors of the espresso.

– Prepare a shot of espresso as mentioned above.
– Steam a small amount of milk, creating a thick milk foam.
– Gently spoon a dollop of milk foam on top of the espresso shot.

Cold Brew and Iced Arabica Coffee Options

Cold Brew Coffee:

This method involves steeping coarsely ground Arabica coffee beans in cold water for an extended period of time, resulting in a smooth, less acidic coffee concentrate that can be served over ice or mixed with milk.

– Coarsely grind 100g of Arabica coffee beans.
– Combine the ground coffee with 1 liter of cold water in a large container.
– Stir the mixture well and refrigerate it for 16-24 hours.
– Strain the coffee concentrate through a fine mesh filter or cheesecloth.
– Serve the cold brew concentrate over ice, diluting it with water or milk as desired.

Iced Latte:

A refreshing coffee drink perfect for warm weather, the iced latte combines espresso with cold milk and ice to create a smooth and creamy beverage.

– Prepare a shot of espresso as mentioned above.
– Allow the espresso shot to cool slightly, then pour it over a glass filled with ice.
– Add 240ml of cold milk, stirring gently to combine.

Arabica Coffee Preparation – FAQs

1. What are the ideal brewing methods for Arabica coffee beans?

Arabica coffee beans are best suited for manual brewing methods such as pour-over, French press, and Aeropress. These methods allow for control over extraction, emphasizing the delicate flavors and bright acidity that characterize Arabica beans (Perfect Daily Grind, 2020).

2. What is the optimal grind size for brewing Arabica coffee?

The ideal grind size for Arabica coffee depends on the chosen brewing method. For French press, use a coarse grind; for pour-over, opt for a medium-fine grind; and for Aeropress, use a fine grind. Matching grind size to brewing method ensures proper extraction of flavors (Specialty Coffee Association, n.d.).

3. How should I store Arabica coffee beans for maximum freshness?

For maximum freshness, store Arabica coffee beans in an airtight container away from light, heat, and moisture. Keep the container in a cool, dark location, such as a pantry. Avoid storing coffee beans in the refrigerator or freezer, as the fluctuating temperatures can negatively impact the beans’ flavor (National Coffee Association, n.d.).

4. What is the recommended coffee-to-water ratio for preparing Arabica coffee?

A general recommendation for Arabica coffee preparation is a 1:15 to 1:18 coffee-to-water ratio. This means, for example, using 20 grams of coffee for 300-360 grams of water. Experiment with this range for personal preference and to account for differences in bean density and grind size (Specialty Coffee Association, 2015).

5. What water temperature is best for brewing Arabica coffee?

The ideal brewing temperature for Arabica coffee is between 195°F (91°C) and 205°F (96°C). This temperature range promotes proper extraction of flavors and prevents under- or over-extraction, which can cause either weak, sour, or bitter tastes (Specialty Coffee Association, n.d.).

6. How long should Arabica coffee beans be roasted for optimal flavor?

Arabica beans are typically roasted between 9-12 minutes, depending on the desired roast level. Lighter roasts emphasize fruity, acidic notes, while darker roasts develop richer, bolder flavors. A medium roast, around 10 minutes, strikes a balance between acidity and body (Perfect Daily Grind, 2018).

Hanson Cheng

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