Liberica coffee is a rare and unique coffee bean that is largely overshadowed by the more popular Arabica and Robusta beans. It is one of the four main coffee bean varieties grown for consumption out of the nearly 120 species of the coffee plant. Liberica beans make up only two percent of beans being consumed across the globe, which is why they are facing near extinction.
Despite its rarity, Liberica coffee has a rich history and unique flavors that make it worth trying. The coffee originated in Liberia, West Africa, but today it is mostly grown and consumed in Southeast Asia, namely the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia. In the Philippines alone, Liberica accounts for more than 70% of all grown coffee.
Liberica coffee has almond-shaped beans with an exceptional aroma, almost floral and fruity, while its flavor is full and slightly smokey. If you’ve never tasted Liberica coffee, you’re in for a treat. In this article, we will dive into the history, flavors, and brewing tips of Liberica coffee to help you appreciate this unique coffee bean.
What is Liberica Coffee?
Liberica coffee is a rare and unique coffee species that is grown and processed in its native home of Liberia. Today, it is mostly grown and consumed in Southeast Asia, specifically in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Liberica coffee is known for its bold flavor with intense aromas, providing an enjoyable cup for even the most discerning palates.
Also Read: Coffee Farming In Kenya
Liberica coffee originated in Liberia, West Africa. It was introduced to Southeast Asia in the late 19th century as a way to diversify the coffee industry. Today, it is mostly grown in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia, with the Philippines accounting for more than 70% of all Liberica coffee produced.
Liberica coffee has a distinct flavor profile that sets it apart from other coffee species. It is known for its bold, smoky, and woody taste with a floral and fruity aroma. Liberica coffee also has a low acidity level, making it a great option for those who experience acid reflux or heartburn after drinking coffee.
Because Liberica coffee is rare and not widely available, it is often more expensive than other coffee species. However, for those who appreciate its unique flavor profile, it is well worth the extra cost.
Liberica Coffee Production
Liberica coffee is grown in several countries, including the Philippines, Malaysia, and Liberia. It is a hardy plant that can grow in low-altitude regions with high humidity and rainfall. The plants are typically grown from seedlings and take around three to four years to mature. Liberica coffee trees can grow up to 18 meters tall and have large, leathery leaves.
Unlike other coffee varieties, Liberica is not widely cultivated due to its low yield and susceptibility to pests and diseases. However, some farmers are turning to Liberica as a way to diversify their crops and because it is less affected by climate change than other coffee varieties.
The coffee cherries of Liberica are harvested by hand when they are fully ripe. This is typically between December and March in the Philippines. The cherries are picked selectively, meaning only the ripest cherries are harvested. This can be a time-consuming process, but it ensures that the coffee beans are of the highest quality.
Harvesting Liberica coffee is often done by small-scale farmers who rely on family members or hired labor to pick the cherries. The cherries are then transported to processing facilities where they are sorted and prepared for roasting.
After the coffee cherries are harvested, they are processed to remove the outer layers and reveal the coffee beans. There are two common methods of processing Liberica coffee: the wet method and the dry method.
The wet method involves removing the outer layer of the cherries using machines and then soaking the beans in water to remove the remaining layers. The beans are then dried and sorted for quality.
The dry method, also known as the natural method, involves drying the cherries in the sun until they are completely dry. The outer layer is then removed, and the beans are sorted for quality. Once the coffee beans are processed, they are ready for roasting and brewing.
Also Read: Ruiru 11 Coffee Farming
Liberica Coffee vs. Other Coffee Types
Robusta coffee is known for its strong, bitter taste and high caffeine content. It is often used in espresso blends because of its ability to produce a thick crema. However, it is generally considered to be of lower quality than Arabica and Liberica coffee due to its harsher taste and lower acidity. Robusta coffee beans are smaller and more round than Liberica beans, and they have a higher yield per tree.
Arabica coffee is the most commonly consumed coffee in the world. It is known for its delicate, complex flavors and low acidity. Arabica beans are oval-shaped and smaller than Liberica beans. They are grown at higher altitudes than Robusta and Liberica beans, which gives them a more nuanced flavor profile. Arabica coffee is often more expensive than Robusta coffee due to its higher quality and lower yield per tree.
Liberica coffee is often compared to Robusta coffee because of its bold, distinctive flavor. However, Liberica coffee is generally considered to be of higher quality than Robusta coffee due to its smoother taste and lower bitterness. Liberica beans are larger and more irregularly shaped than Arabica and Robusta beans. They have a unique flavor profile that is often described as floral, fruity, and nutty.
When it comes to caffeine content, Liberica coffee falls somewhere between Robusta and Arabica coffee. Liberica beans have a caffeine content of around 1.5%, while Robusta beans have a caffeine content of around 2.7% and Arabica beans have a caffeine content of around 1.2%. However, the caffeine content of coffee can vary depending on factors such as brewing method and roast level.
Overall, Liberica coffee offers a unique flavor profile that sets it apart from other coffee types. While it may not be as widely consumed as Arabica and Robusta coffee, it is gaining popularity among coffee enthusiasts who appreciate its bold, complex taste.
Also Read: Batian Coffee Farming
Where to Find Liberica Coffee?
Liberica coffee is a rare and unique coffee variety that is not as widely available as other coffee beans such as Arabica or Robusta. However, it can still be found in several locations around the world. Here are some places where you can find Liberica coffee:
- The Philippines: The Philippines is one of the largest producers of Liberica coffee in the world. It is grown in several regions of the country, including Batangas, Cavite, and Bukidnon. You can find Liberica coffee in specialty coffee shops and online stores that specialize in Philippine coffee.
- Malaysia: Malaysia is another country that produces Liberica coffee, particularly in the state of Sabah. You can find Liberica coffee in local coffee shops and online stores that specialize in Malaysian coffee.
- Indonesia: Although Indonesia is primarily known for its production of Arabica and Robusta coffee, it also produces Liberica coffee in small quantities. You can find Liberica coffee in specialty coffee shops and online stores that specialize in Indonesian coffee.
- Thailand: Thailand is another country that produces Liberica coffee, particularly in the northern region of the country. You can find Liberica coffee in local coffee shops and online stores that specialize in Thai coffee.
It is important to note that Liberica coffee is not as widely available as other coffee varieties, and it may be more expensive due to its rarity. However, if you are a coffee enthusiast looking for a unique and flavorful coffee experience, Liberica coffee is definitely worth trying.
Liberica coffee is a rare and unique coffee bean that is worth trying for coffee enthusiasts. With its fruity and bold flavor profile, it offers a different taste experience compared to the more common Arabica and Robusta beans. While Liberica beans are facing near extinction, efforts to preserve and cultivate this coffee variety are ongoing.
One of the advantages of Liberica coffee is its resistance to coffee leaf rust, a disease that can devastate coffee crops. This makes it an attractive option for coffee growers in regions where Arabica struggles to grow. In addition, Liberica cherries have noticeably firmer skin, making them more difficult for pests to penetrate.
However, due to its rarity, Liberica beans can be more expensive than other coffee varieties. Consumers can expect to pay anywhere from $24 to $50 for a 17-ounce bag of these beans in the US. Nonetheless, for those who enjoy unique coffee flavors, Liberica coffee is worth the investment.
Overall, Liberica coffee is a fascinating and rare coffee variety that offers a distinct taste experience. While it may not be as widely available as Arabica or Robusta, it is worth seeking out for those who want to try something different. With ongoing efforts to preserve and cultivate Liberica beans, it is possible that this coffee variety will continue to be enjoyed by coffee enthusiasts for years to come.
Sources: Ismail, I., M. S. Anuar, and R. Shamsudin. “Physical properties of Liberica coffee (Coffea liberica) berries and beans.” Pertanika J Sci Technol 22 (2014): 65-79. Link: https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/153832646.pdf#page=75
Mubarak, Aidilla, et al. “Comparison of liberica and arabica coffee: Chlorogenic acid, caffeine, total phenolic and DPPH radical scavenging activity.” (2019). Link: https://ro.ecu.edu.au/ecuworkspost2013/6495/