Robusta vs Arabica Coffee Beans what are the differences and their benefits?
Did you know that coffee is a member of the Rubiaceae family of flowering plants? This family contains over 500 Genera (the biological groups into which a family is divided) and approximately 6000 species. One of these is the coffee bean (Coffea in scientific terms)! The coffee we drink is primarily from Arabica and Canephora, also known as Robusta. So what is the distinction between Arabica and Robusta beans?
Robusta vs Arabica Coffee Beans
Typical and Bourbon are the two main varieties of Arabica, and we drink the Robusta variety in Canephora. As a result, the term Robusta is common to this entire variety of coffee. Arabica and Robusta are the two wide varieties of coffee in the world. Aside from being different species of the same plant family, the main distinction is in the flavor and characteristics of the actual bean.
1. Different Characteristics
Remember that the quality and flavour of even a single type of bean or variety can vary. Growing conditions and processing methods are frequently unpredictable, resulting in a varying flavour profile in the resulting cup.
The coffee called Kona is a prime example of this. While the bean itself is of the Arabica type, these coffee beans are grown in Kona only, a district of Hawaii’s Big Island. The unique qualities of Kona beans are due to the specific environmental conditions of the island, and the same goes for Robusta vs Arabica coffee beans. Growing conditions and terroir can cause significant differences in flavor and quality.
Arabica coffee beans can have single-origin coffee forms or coffee blends. 100% single origin Robusta coffee beans is rarely found. Robusta works as fillers in espresso coffee for mass-produced coffee. Robusta is primarily used in instant coffee as well. Robusta coffee beans is used in espresso mixtures because it contains more caffeine and is more creamy than the arabica beans. By creamy, we mean the creamy layer found at the foamy layer on an expresso shot.
Robusta coffee beans are of good quality, and roasting Robusta coffee also requires care; you can get a cup of espresso that is as chocolatey and dense with a deep flavor as Arabica. There are many types of research going on globally by coffee producers and scientists. They are trying to grow a coffee capable of withstanding harsh weather conditions and still being tasty. They should be pleasant and produce the complex and incredible flavors of good coffee. However, no success in engineering such a plant has come yet.
Robusta Coffee Beans
Robusta coffee is prepared from the plant’s beans we know as the canephora plant. Robusta is a plant that originated in central and western Sub-Saharan Africa. It is the world’s second most popular coffee, accounting for 40% of global coffee production. It is only second to Arabica (from the Coffea arabica plant), accounting for the remaining 60 percent (or more) of global coffee production.
Arabica Coffee Beans
Arabica coffee is a coffee that is made from the beans of the Coffea arabica plant. Arabica originated in Ethiopia’s southwestern highlands and is the most popular type of coffee globally, accounting for 60 percent or more of global coffee production. Robusta coffee, made from the beans of the Coffea canephora plant, is the most popular after Arabica. The great flavor it generates makes it the most popular coffee in the world. Imagine being the first choice of coffee for over 60% of the world’s population.
Robusta coffee comes 2nd after Arabica coffee in terms of popularity. Robusta is derived from the beans of the Coffea Canephora plant. Arabica coffee, the most popular coffee in the world, apparently got its name because, during the 7th century, the beans were taken from Ethiopia to the lower part of Arabia. The origin of Arabica coffee is not in Arabia, but they hail from Ethiopia. Strange terminology, isn’t it!? No, it isn’t! Let us go through why arabica coffee is called so despite being first grown in Ethiopia.
The Oromo tribe of Ethiopia consumed the beans crushed and mixed with fat as a stimulant. But it wasn’t until they arrived in Arabia that the term “coffee” was coined. Arab scholars wrote about it as a brewed beverage for the first time, claiming that it helped them extend their working hours. Coffee spread throughout the world from there. Coffee beans were first brewed into a delicious beverage in Arabia; it’s easy to see why it’s known as arabica coffee, as well as Arabian coffee.
Where is Robusta coffee beans are grown?
Robusta coffee is grown mainly in Africa, Indonesia, and other south-eastern countries, and Vietnam is the largest producer. Coffea robusta is now considered another name for Coffee canephora, with C. c. robusta and C. c. Uganda. Robusta coffee is the common name for these two plants of coffee, and it’s frequently found in instant coffee and espresso blends.
So, when it comes to making coffee at home, espresso is the method to bring out the best in robusta beans.
Taste of Robusta Coffee Beans
Robusta coffee has an earthen flavour and is often described as having a slightly bitter, rubbery taste with an aftertaste described as peanutty. Doesn’t that sound unappealing? However, these flavors are not always present, and even if they are, they are not always unpleasant. It could be influenced majorly by the bean quality of the coffee and how they are roasted.
When brewed, it is reduced to the consistency of molasses. It had a bitter flavour, but bitter isn’t always a bad thing, especially if you like bitter dark chocolate, which I detected in this coffee. Robusta coffee beans contain more caffeine and less sugar than arabica coffee beans and thus taste stronger and harsher.
Also Read: What is the difference between latte and mocha?
Is Robusta coffee beans good to drink?
If you’re wondering if Robusta tastes good, high-quality Robusta is said to add depth of flavour to an arabica/robusta blend, as well as a nice crema to espresso blends. High-quality Robusta is much sought after because of the crema and taste of the espresso. So, if
you prefer a harsher and more earthy flavor, a small quantity of robusta coffee might be an excellent addition to your blend of coffee. If you like a nice thick layer of crema on your espresso coffee, high-quality Robusta will fulfill the desired necessity. Just make sure the coffee is high-quality robusta coffee.
Does the Arabica Coffee Beans Good in Taste?
A good arabica coffee should have a slightly sweet taste with chocolate, nuts, and caramel hints. They can also taste good with fruit and berries. There will be a slight/pleasant acidity as well as a slight bitterness. Cold coffee can help deliver even more of the sweet flavors of arabica coffee. The roast you choose will influence how much you notice the flavors.
The area and soil composition in which the beans are grown can also impact the balance of the above flavors. Storing coffee beans correctly to keep them nice and fresh is a great way to help preserve those delicious flavour notes. Most coffee beans sold in grocery stores, markets, coffee shops, and cafes are arabica coffee.
Some brands, particularly espresso blends, will combine arabica and robusta coffee beans. The majority, however, is arabica coffee. So, all of those delicious coffee drinks at your local cafe are most likely Arabica. And if you wish to know how to make coffee at home, arabica coffee, indeed, will produce the best results.
The Robusta Coffee Plant
The robusta coffee plant is a tricky little thing. It can withstand high temperatures (30°C and above) and direct sunlight. It prefers to stay hydrated and needs a lot of water to stay happy and healthy. It grows at low altitudes – from sea level to 600 meters – and is insect and ailment resistant. It can reach a height of around ten meters in the wild, but when grown for commercial purposes, it is trimmed back to a height of approximately five meters to make harvesting easier.
The flowers are white and have a jasmine-like scent. The fruit of the robusta coffee plant ripens to a deep red color over 6 to 8 months. Like blueberries, the fruit does not all ripen simultaneously; ripe and unripe fruit can coexist on the same branch. Each “cherry,” or ripe berry, usually contains two coffee beans (seeds).
The Arabica Coffee plant
The Coffea arabica, or arabica coffee plant, prefers humid conditions and cannot tolerate frost. It prefers temperatures ranging from 15°C to 24°C (59°F to 75°F) and likes to be grown in the shade. It is typically produced at elevations of 1,900 feet (600 meters) or higher above sea level. It prefers hillside cultivation and matures at around seven years of age.
In the wild, the plant can reach 9-12 meters. It can grow to be about 5 meters tall when developed for commercial use, but it is usually kept at about 2 meters to aid in harvesting. The flowers are small and white, and they smell like jasmine flowers, and they are sweet and beautiful. The beans (which are actually seeds) grow inside the berries of this shrub-like plant. When the berries are “cherry” or deep-red/dark-purple, they are harvested; each berry usually contains two beans.
The fruit of the arabica coffee plant, like blueberries, does not ripen at at a same time so the berries are best picked by hand. If they are harvested before they are fully ripe, the resulting coffee is of poor quality. When the arabica coffee beans are extracted from the berries, a “parchment coat” and a “silver skin” must also be removed.
The Robusta vs Arabica coffee beans
1. Caffeine content in Arabica is lower than in Robusta. Arabica has a caffeine content of 1.5 percent, whereas Robusta has a caffeine content of 2.7 percent. This fact is something to think about if you’re worried about the adverse effects of too much caffeine. Arabica would be a better option for the particular situation. Caffeine has a bitter flavour, so Arabica is less bitter than Robusta.
2. Arabica has a higher sugar content than Robusta, and Arabica contains nearly twice as much sugar as Robusta. The bulk of people prefers sweet flavors over bitter flavors, which accounts for the disparity in popularity.
3. Arabica has a higher fatty acid profile than Robusta. There are approximately 60% more lipids (fats, oils, waxes, specific vitamins, hormones, etc.) than in Robusta coffee.
4. Arabica taste is more acidic than robusta flavour, which is comparable to the acidity that makes wine taste good. It enhances the flavors of fruit, chocolate, and nuts in arabica coffee. Robusta has a lower level of this quality, which contributes to the woody taste of burnt rubber flavour.
5. The taste is probably the most noticeable distinction between Arabica and Robusta coffees. Arabica and Robusta coffees are grown differently, resulting in different flavour profiles. Robusta has an “earthy” or “rubbery” flavour. Arabica, on the other hand, has a diverse flavour profile.
6. The conditions under which Arabica and Robusta coffees are grown are significant differences. Arabica coffee is grown at 600+ meters on mountain peaks and in tropical
environments, whereas Robusta coffee is grown from sea level to around 600 meters. Robusta coffees also produce more complex fruit, making them less vulnerable to pesky insects. On the other hand, Arabica is more delicate and susceptible to insect damage.
Also Read: Benefits of drinking coffee
The Bottom Line
We have gone through the many differences between Arabica and Robusta coffee. They are vastly different in how they taste, what their growing conditions have to be, etc. Which is brand of coffee has a better flavor and taste? After you have tasted both the brands, that answer can be provided only by you, the reader. However, arabica coffee dominates the world’s market in terms of consumption.
The qualities of arabica coffee are said to be better than that of robusta coffee. Robusta still has a lot of catching up to enjoy the popularity of arabica coffee. Ultimately, the taste speaks for itself. If I had to choose between the two types of coffee, I would opt for Arabica. I hope you liked reading this article as much as we enjoyed bringing it to you. Till our next work, happy coffee drinking!