What Is Liberica Coffee?

If you’re wondering what is Liberica Coffee, it’s a rare tasty bean.

Some coffee drinkers are fine with any type of coffee brew in the morning so long as the cup is hot and filled with caffeine. For others, good flavor and aroma are essential to every cup of coffee.

This latter group are coffee bean connoisseurs. Just taking extra care in brewing coffee isn’t always enough to make a truly excellent cup or espresso shot. They look for special coffee bean blends for particular tastes and aromas. Rare beans offer an exciting new world of flavor. Enter liberica coffee.

Liberica coffee is one type of bean that can’t be found on just any coffee shop shelf. It is rarer than most, and it may take some sleuthing to find.  

If you are a coffee aficionado who is looking for something new to try, and you enjoy a strong cup of coffee, then finding some liberica beans is certainly worth the extra effort.

Liberica Coffee 

Coffee does not come from just one plant. The numerous varieties generally stem from two major species: Coffea arabica (arabica coffee beans) and Coffea canephora (robusta coffee beans). There is also a less well-known variety call Coffea liberica (liberica beans).

This plant follows behind the other two in global production. Arabica makes up 75% of global coffee consumption, due to its reputation for making good espresso and drip coffee.

Robusta is known for producing superior crema (brown foam in an espresso shot) and comes in second at 20%.

Liberica, despite its distinctive and enticing nutty flavor, trails a very distant third with only 2% global consumption. It is mostly grown, processed, and enjoyed in Asia where the climate is suitable for production.

As it is produced overseas in small amounts, liberica coffee isn’t easy to find in North America.

The liberica coffee plant got its name from its place of origin, Liberia. The plant is substantially bigger than most coffee species and can grow up to 20 meters in height. Its beans are larger than other types. It offers a dark rich color, a bitter taste and high caffeine levels. 

Despite its attributes, the Western coffee world hasn’t adopted liberica yet, and it’s rare to find a cafe that offers it. As it is both hard to get and strong in taste it hasn’t cracked the market in any substantial way.

Yet it flourishes elsewhere not only as brewed coffee, but in an instant form for an affordable and customizable coffee beverage.

Regions Enjoying Liberica

Regions Enjoying Liberica

While liberica is a rare type of coffee in North America, it is enjoyed in many areas of Asia and South America. It has had a substantial impact in Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia.

This impact comes due to the huge devastating effect that these countries suffered in the late 19th century. The coffee crops of the time became infested with coffee rust disease. This fungus is a parasite that destroyed the existing coffee crops. 

To recover from the devastation, the liberica coffee plant was introduced to the region. It was resistant to coffee rust, and so liberica became the main coffee staple of the area since the others were unable to be grown locally.

These countries, unlike North America, are not immersed in a coffee culture that demands the typical coffee cafe menu. They enjoy the ability to have a cheap, mass grown and produced bean for a solid brewed coffee rather than worrying about fancy blends and roasts. 

Liberica Coffee – Smell and Taste

Liberica is closer in taste to robusta than arabica. It is strong, dark, earthy, and packs a punch. However, it is also distinct from robusta.

The aroma of brewed liberica can be off-putting for some. Ground coffee liberica has been described as having a nutty and smoky smell. The smoky smell translates into its taste as well.

Some compare it to liquid tobacco. Burnt overtones that are sometimes found in dark roasts of more conventional coffee are present. The important note is that each person may experience the taste differently.

As with mainstream coffee, people enjoy different blends and roasts according to their individual taste and with various extras like milk or syrups, so it is hard to say if people will find liberica off-putting or enjoyable. 

Finding the Elusive Liberica Coffee 

Finding the Elusive Liberica Coffee

Liberica, while rare, is not impossible to find. If you are interested in tasting it then there are some ways to track it down.

The internet makes the global market easier to traverse. Finding a rare product from overseas has never been easier. Internet marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay often carry it, but it comes and goes depending on availability of stock.

When making a purchase look for the place of import such as Malaysia so you are assured that it is authentic liberica coffee. 

Some websites that are home to coffee specialists may have it as well. They often have specializations such as coffee from Vietnam or Malaysia, which will include liberica.

It is important to check the source thoroughly to ensure the authenticity of the product, as when making any purchase.

The Final Word on Liberica Coffee

People have varying tastes. Some like spicey, others sweet and then there are those who like bland or softer tastes. This applies to coffee as well.

Coffee drinkers enjoy different blends, roasts and brews depending on their personal tastes and preferences. Finding that specific favourite takes some trial and error.

If you are a coffee drinker that is looking for a strong earthy taste and aroma, then why not seek out liberica. Liberica is a rare coffee bean that is perfect for an amateur barista looking for something a little different.


  • Aisling O'Connor

    Aisling is an Irish food and drinks writer and journalist fueled by coffee and herbal tea. She followed up her journalism degree with nutrition studies. Find Aisling on LinkedIn.