Arabica Coffee vs. Robusta: The Complete Guide
One day, a goat herder found that his goats became so energetic that they could hardly sleep at night after eating certain berries. Soon, people made a brew using these berries, and it managed to keep them awake and energetic throughout the night. Quickly, the marvelous drink became extremely popular across the globe. But was the first coffee Arabica coffee or Robusta? And what are the differences between Arabica coffee vs. Robusta?
Coffee cultivation and trade began in Arabia, but today the best coffee in the world comes from Ethiopia, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Colombia. When you buy coffee, you will find that the tag on the bag reads that it’s made of 100% Arabica or a mix of Arabica and Robusta.
In our Arabica coffee vs. Robusta coffee comparison, we’ll tell you about the differences between these two types of coffee beans.
Arabica Coffee vs. Robusta
All coffee beans look the same once they’re roasted. However, they won’t taste the same, and avid coffee lovers need to understand the differences between the beans before they go shopping for coffee.
These are the 2 main types of coffee beans that are used around the world. Arabica coffee is the most common type but might be sold in pure form or mixed with Robusta.
These 2 coffee beans belong to the same family but have different flavors and growing conditions. Arabica coffee beans have 2 varieties, Typica and Bourbon, while Robusta beans are also known as Canephora.
Both types of coffee beans are delicious and can be used to prepare several drinks, but there are several differences between the 2 types. Let’s go over the differences between Arabica coffee vs. Robusta.
1. Growing Conditions
Arabica is grown in different parts of the world, including Africa and Papua New Guinea, but it’s grown dominantly in Latin America. Some countries like Colombia produce only Arabica coffee beans, while other countries like Brazil and India produce several types of coffee beans, including Arabica and Robusta. Brazil is the world’s number 1 producer of Arabica coffee beans.
Arabica coffee beans take more time to reach maturity, and this makes them harder to grow. The plants are more prone to pests and require more attention. Each plant eventually reaches a height of about 15 feet, producing flat and more oval beans.
Robusta coffee beans are grown in other parts of the world, where Vietnam produces most of the world’s Robusta beans. Although only 25% of the world’s coffee is made of Robusta beans, Vietnam has witnessed an expansion in coffee production from 6000 tons to 2 million tons within 30 years.
Robusta beans are grown at lower altitudes and are less prone to pests. They grow faster and produce more yield per year, so they’re less expensive. The higher caffeine content protects the beans from pests, so the plants are easier to attend to. Each plant usually reaches a height of about 20 feet, producing beans that look smaller and rounder than Arabica coffee beans.
The difference in taste is probably the most distinctive feature that sets these 2 types of coffee beans apart. Arabica beans are known to have a sweet fruity taste. They usually have a softer taste that resembles wine. They taste less acidic, so they work in several types of drinks.
Robusta coffee beans are known to be stronger. They have a more acidic and bitter taste, so they work better for espresso. High-quality Robusta coffee beans have more nutty and earthy flavors and aren’t as sweet.
Arabica coffee beans also contain more lipids and sugars that make them sweeter and milder. They contain about 60% more lipids and almost double the amount of sugar found in the Robusta coffee beans.
However, in most cases, people don’t prefer to drink pure Robusta coffee beans as they might taste too strong, especially if the beans are dark roasted. There’s a misconception that Robusta beans have a burned flavor, but high-quality beans can taste as good as or even better than Arabica coffee.
As a matter of fact, some people prefer the taste of Robusta coffee beans because they like the stronger flavor. High-quality Robusta coffee beans are still desirable because they taste nutty.
75% of the coffee produced worldwide is made of Arabica coffee beans. This is why you would typically find coffee houses marketing their coffee as made exclusively of Arabica coffee beans because they tend to be of higher quality. They can be used in several types of drinks, mostly if you prefer floral and fruity flavors.
Nevertheless, Robusta coffee beans also have their fans who prefer their stronger taste. Instant coffee and espresso blends are usually made of Robusta coffee beans that provide the needed caffeine kick and bold flavor. They’re also used in drinks where milk is added because the strong taste of coffee is neutralized by the creaminess of the milk.
Blends of both beans are also available because they combine the best of both worlds. These are versatile and can be used to prepare several types of drinks.
4. Caffeine Content
Each type of beans contains a different amount of caffeine, where Robusta beans have almost double the amount of caffeine found in Arabica beans. Both coffee beans are made up differently and will deliver different tastes accordingly.
Robusta coffee beans have about 2.7% caffeine content, which is almost double the caffeine content of 1.5%, which is found in the Arabica coffee beans. Robusta coffee is more suitable for those who need a strong wake-me-up drink in the morning because the caffeine level is higher. However, if you don’t prefer the bitter taste, these beans can be too strong for you.
Chlorogenic acid or CGA is another compound found in coffee and has the properties of an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and hypoglycemic. Robusta coffee beans contain between 7% and 10% CGA, while Arabica coffee beans contain between 5.5% and 8%.
Arabica coffee beans are typically more expensive than Robusta coffee beans. They’re more difficult to grow, take more time to mature, are more prone to pests, and are in higher demand in general. High-quality beans are somehow difficult to find and will almost cost double the price of Robusta coffee beans.
Because they’re less desirable due to their relatively strong taste, Robusta beans are more affordable. To some coffee lovers and experts, Robusta coffee beans are usually considered of inferior quality. However, high-quality Robusta beans taste good and are also as desirable because of their high caffeine content.
In most cases, Arabica coffee beans are sold at specialty stores and expensive coffee houses where avid coffee lovers head to get their high-quality coffee. Robusta beans are mainly used in supermarket blends because they’re more affordable and easier to obtain.
To create an affordable mix, most coffee blends are a mix of both types of beans. The Robusta coffee beans are used to reduce the overall cost, while the Arabica coffee beans are used to enhance the taste.
Nevertheless, the percentage of Robusta to Arabica depends on the taste. For some people, the Arabica beans’ floral and fruity flavors can be too sweet or even undesirable. For others, the strong flavor of the Robusta beans might be too strong or too bitter. You might need to experiment with several blends to find the perfect ratio or even prepare your own mix for the best results.
Which Coffee Beans to Choose
Choosing your coffee beans is a matter of personal choice. It depends on your preferences regarding the taste and the types of drinks you’re willing to prepare. Both beans can be roasted to different degrees to deliver various tastes, and you can pick yours at the supermarket or at a specialty coffee house.
It’s always a better idea to buy your roasted coffee beans and grind them at home. This will guarantee the purity of your ground coffee and will help you enjoy fresh coffee every time. Ground coffee is easier to use but might not be as fresh or as strong. Moreover, you won’t have control over the composition of the blend.
In most cases, you can buy blends of Arabica and Robusta beans that combine both types of beans together to deliver a balanced taste. You can pick more Arabica beans if you’re a fan of the sweet fruity flavors. These beans are less acidic and generally taste milder.
For those who need strong coffee, you should go for a blend that contains more Robusta beans. Robusta beans are not inferior, although they might be more affordable. They actually taste stronger and would work for those who need a bolder taste and more caffeine.
Arabica coffee beans and Robusta coffee beans are the most popular coffee beans in the world. Each type of bean has a distinctive taste and several characteristics that make it desirable.
Arabica coffee beans are milder, more fruity, sweeter, and more expensive. These coffee beans are more difficult to grow but will deliver a less acidic taste.
Robusta coffee beans are stronger with higher caffeine content. They can be added to Arabica coffee beans to create a more affordable blend.
Although some people think of them as of inferior quality, this isn’t true. These beans are suitable for those who prefer nutty and earthy intense flavors and are mainly used to prepare tasty espresso.
Stay caffeinated friends!