Previously known as a genus of the Liberica coffee bean, the variety was later named Excelsa to reflect its unique traits while remaining part of the Liberica species. In recent years it has seen a slight expansion throughout the modern coffee market and has worked its way into a handful of coffee shops and home machines at a steady rate.
What Is Excelsa Coffee?
The countries where people primarily consume Excelsa is Asia and Africa. These are also the locations where the beans are mainly grown. While Excelsa derives from the Liberica species, a few nuances make them each unique in their own way.
Liberica is a type of coffee that occupies an oval shape that is long and narrow. However, the Excelsa bean takes on the form of a small circle. Furthermore, the taste that many people associate with Liberica is primarily floral with fruit and wood accents. You’ll find with Excelsa that you only have the fruit taste.
In addition to the taste and shape, Liberica has a small percentage of higher caffeine content. It is also more widely distributed than Excelsa. While many feel that the two are the same, there are specific differences in their internal makeup that allow them to be unique in their own right.
Unfortunately, while Excelsa is experiencing growth in the global market, it isn’t as prominent as other coffee beans. The production of the Excelsa coffee bean isn’t at the same level as its counterparts, and the relative newness of the strand leaves many wondering about its quality.
Origins of Excelsa Coffee
There’s a lot of confusion regarding the origins of Excelsa coffee. While it is known to be part of the Liberica family, those in the coffee industry are mostly unaware of how it came to be. What information is known is that it is grown and consumed in Africa and Asia, with most production in Southeast Asia.
Founded in the early 1900s in the region of Chad, which is within the continent of Africa, this coffee bean is now being grown in many other areas but less widely than Arabica and Robusta coffee. The overall distribution rate for Excelsa comes in at less than 10% globally. There is neither any established commodity market nor a standardized price. It is frequently blended with the Arabica instead of being sold separately.
Additionally, while there are slight differences in the beans, some nations and coffee distributors still consider Excelsa and Liberica to be the same. The difference in opinion leads to a lower growth rate of Excelsa when it’s packaged with another type of coffee.
While predominantly known as Excelsa, you will also hear of it as Coffea dewevrei or dewevrei at times, a name it shares with Liberica. This name speaks directly to the plant species that the coffee belongs to in nature.
Challenges of Growing Excelsa Coffee
When producing Excelsa coffee, farmers are up against several challenges. The first and most significant issue is the size of the Excelsa trees producing the beans. These trees can grow up to 49 feet in height, so it takes a great deal of effort to pick the beans for production.
Furthermore, the canopy of the tree can extend to 23 feet wide. This wide width gives the tree ample room for growing the Excelsa beans. The Hardiness zone classification is 5b (-10 to 15 Deg F)
However, various conditions limit the expansion of the bean in the global market. For instance, the rapidity at which the Excelsa bean trees grow requires that farmers perform frequent maintenance to keep the production level optimal.
To manage continuous pruning and maintenance, extra labor is necessary. For those who hire employees to complete the work, this means additional funds need to get spent.
Lastly, the growth period for Excelsa bean trees is much more extended than others. The average duration for these specific trees is around one year. Therefore, it’s a challenge to incorporate proper cultivation techniques when an exact timeframe isn’t available.
Classification of Excelsa Coffee
Accurately classifying Excelsa coffee is problematic since some label it Liberica, whereas others see the differences between them. The lack of a complete history behind the production of the plants makes it hard to understand their origins and classification.
The shape of both Excelsa and Liberica have slight differences. Whereas Excelsa is small and round, Liberica possesses a longer oval shape. Liberica additionally has a higher level of caffeine than Excelsa.
Experts in the field routinely perform tests to uncover the internal makeup of both beans. In the results, scientists share that the genetics of both Liberica and Excelsa is vastly different. In addition, Excelsa can resist common diseases that plague coffee plants worldwide, like coffee leaf rust, while Liberica doesn’t possess the same trait.
Because of the information that has come into existence, many firmly believe that Excelsa should have its own classification as a separate coffee species. However, not everyone is in favor of the move. As such, there have yet to be any official moves to make the change.
Taste Profile of Excelsa Coffee
There are various impressions about the taste profile of Excelsa coffee. While specific segments of the coffee-drinking population feel that the taste and strength are weak, others notice that the bean gives a fruity flavor that comes across as more tart than other selections.
The bean’s primary growing location is in Southeast Asia, so it benefits from the high heat. However, the lengthy growth period associated with Excelsa means that farmers often harvest the beans before they are ready, making for a less-than-perfect taste when made into a cup of coffee.
One of the unique attributes of Excelsa comes in the fact that the bean possesses qualities that resonate with both light and dark coffee blends. Therefore, placing it in a specific roast category is complicated because of the characteristics that speak to each type.
With the larger scale of coffee blends containing Arabica and Robusta beans, it can be challenging to adapt to a different bean style. Excelsa isn’t popular on the global market. Therefore when people have an opportunity to try it, the experience isn’t always great because it’s instantly compared to the more popular choices available.
While coffee isn’t considered the top drink in the world (although many might argue otherwise), it is trendy in many countries. As you travel around, you will notice various blends and unique drinks. However, some coffee styles, like Excelsa, aren’t as big on the global market.
Although Excelsa has many similarities to Liberica, several differences make the coffee bean unique. However, Excelsa is a complex plant to cultivate due to its individual needs and long growing period. Because of that, it’s not often seen in coffee shops, although its popularity is rising.
Have you tried Excelsa? If so, let us know what you think in the comments!