Coffee from Liberia


Liberica coffee is one of the world’s rarest and most distinct coffee beans. Liberica coffee is largely overshadowed by Arabica and Robusta beans, accounting for only 2% of all beans consumed globally.

With such small quantities, it’s not surprising that Liberica beans are on the verge of extinction. Many coffee enthusiasts are eager to try the brew, but few are aware of the plant’s long history.

The Origins of Liberica Coffee

Liberica coffee beans originated on Africa’s western coast, in the Republic of Liberia, as the name implies. With a hot, equatorial climate, the majority of fruit-producing plants were grown on the country’s western side, along the Atlantic coast.

This coffee plant reached its peak of popularity in 1880. Farmers in Liberia also grew Robusta beans, and 10,000 metric tons of Liberian beans were harvested and dried for consumption by the country’s 3.5 million people.

As a hardier plant, it has resisted many of the diseases that Arabica and Robusta are susceptible to. The outbreak of coffee rust in 1890 halted harvests all over the world. While the Liberica plants remained alive, the rust began its global spread.

Rust on coffee

Coffee rust, also known as coffee leaf rust, is caused by Hemileia vastatrix, a fungus that can decimate an entire coffee crop in a short period of time. Much of the world’s coffee crops had been wiped out by the fungus by the early 1890s.

The coffee rot begins on the plant’s leaves. It’s a brown, powdery substance that looks like metal rust. The fungus rapidly consumes vegetation, causing devastation in its wake.

Farmers and merchants began to realize, however, that the Liberica bean had not been wiped out. They started making plans to restore their coffee crops. Liberica coffee was sent to different parts of the world in the hopes that it could be re-cultivated, helping to keep the coffee trade from completely failing.

Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia

Liberian coffee made its way to the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia via this route. But it shone brightest in the Philippines. During the re-cultivation, the Philippines was a United States province that profited from the coffee trade.

The Philippines, on the other hand, gained independence from the US shortly after WWII. To prevent smaller countries from monopolizing the coffee trade, the United States imposed stringent export restrictions, effectively halting the spread of Liberica coffee.

As a result, Malaysia has become one of the world’s largest coffee exporters. Malaysia is still the leading producer of the Liberica bean, followed by the Philippines, Indonesia, and Liberia.

Liberian Coffee Plantation

Liberica coffee is distinct not only because of its history, but also because of its distinct characteristics when compared to its more common counterparts. First and foremost, the Liberica plant is significantly larger and taller than the Arabica or Robusta plants. It is one of the world’s tallest coffee plants, standing 20 meters tall.

Not only is the plant itself enormous, but so are the cherries. Liberica’s beans are nearly double the size of Arabica and Robusta and have an asymmetrical shape.


Liberica coffee is thought to have one of the most unique and intriguing flavors available. It has a bold, woody mouthfeel with a bit of a kick to it. The complex notes are woodsy, smokey, and sweet at the same time. Surprisingly, most experts believe that the majority of the flavor is in the aftertaste.

Because of its smoky sweetness, the boldness of the flavor is often compared to liquid tobacco. Many Phillipean harvesters refer to it as “Kape Barako,” which translates roughly to “Manly Coffee.”

Liberica beans are also less bitter than their two counterparts. Liberica also has less caffeine. With only 1.23 grams of caffeine per 100 grams of beans, Liberica coffee is closer to tea in terms of caffeine content.


This coffee’s aroma stands in stark contrast to its flavor. It has a light floral aroma rather than the bold, earthy aroma you might expect. Some users even describe it as having a fruity scent.

Liberica emits a delicate chocolate-like aroma when brewed. This is where you’ll notice nutty notes and woody, deep notes that will be echoed in the flavor. All of the scents combine to make a very unique cup, but many people believe it is an acquired taste.

Liberica Varieties Introduced

Following the Philippines’ independence from the United States, the impending restrictions on coffee beans (specifically, Liberica coffee) made it difficult for them to maintain a sustainable market position. Despite the fact that the restrictions were lifted in the 1950s, the damage had already been done. Liberica coffee was rare. However, that was only the beginning. Liberica beans, like most coffee plants, require specific elevations, temperatures, and humidity levels in order to thrive. Because of climate change and deforestation, the areas where it is harvested have shrunk significantly.

All four countries, however, continue to produce Liberica coffee on a smaller scale. The majority of the harvest is kept for domestic use. It keeps the beans from becoming extinct while also keeping them rare.