Robusta Coffee vs. Arabica Coffee
I consider myself a bit of a coffee connoisseur, although my friends may call it snobby. I just find the world of coffee so fascinating and I love sharing my wealth of knowledge with anyone who will listen (or read!) One thing about coffee most people don’t think much about is that it doesn’t all stem from just one source. There are two main types of coffee: Robusta and Arabica.
What is the difference between Robusta and Arabica? Well, there are five main differences between the two.
- Taste. Robusta coffee beans are known for their oily and bitter taste, while Arabica beans are usually more smooth and acidic.
- Caffeine content. Robusta beans contain twice as much caffeine as Arabica beans.
- Price. Robusta beans are usually cheaper than Arabica beans.
- Growing Location. Robusta coffee beans are mostly grown in Africa and parts of Asia, while Arabica beans are mostly grown in Central and South America.
- Diversity. There are around 70 species of Robusta beans while there are only two main species of Arabica beans: coffee arabica and coffee canephora (sometimes known as coffee robusta).
So, how and why do they differ so much? We will dive into that within this article! I will also share why people tend to like one more than the other. After you’ve finished reading this article, you’ll be a coffee snob like me and even know which type is best for you!
The number one difference between Robusta and Arabica coffee is the taste. Robusta beans are known for their oily and bitter taste, while Arabica beans are usually more smooth and acidic.
The best Arabica beans are known for their unique fruity and flowery essence. I prefer Robusta for this reason because of its stronger flavor – but both have a place in my heart!
A few popular drinks that use Robusta beans are espresso, cappuccino, and French press. If you get your coffee from places like Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts, this is what they will usually use. I don’t think these drinks do the robusta beans justice because of how strong their flavor can be!
On the other hand, most people enjoy Arabica beans with their morning cup of coffee. Popular drinks that use Arabica beans are espresso, drip coffee, brewed coffee, and Turkish coffee.
Another big difference between Robusta and Arabica coffee is their caffeine content. Robusta beans contain twice as much caffeine as Arabica beans do. This is because of how the coffee plant evolved.
Arabica plants usually grow in areas where there are a lot of natural predators that might want to eat them, such as elephants and wildcats. As a result, they developed very bitter-tasting caffeine that would keep these predators away!
Robusta plants don’t have this problem because they are grown in parts of Africa and Asia where there aren’t as many big mammals to eat them. Because of this, they don’t need to produce as much caffeine. However, the downside is that they do taste a bit more bitter!
Whether you prefer Arabica or Robusta coffee beans probably depends on how much caffeine you want in your drink. I think that Robusta is perfect for early mornings and all other times when you know you’ll be awake for a long time since it has twice the caffeine!
Another difference between the two is the price. Robusta beans are usually cheaper than Arabica beans. However, this isn’t because of some type of strange conspiracy that coffee companies are trying to keep up – there’s a pretty good reason behind it.
As I mentioned before, Robusta beans are mostly grown in parts of Africa and Asia where there aren’t many natural predators to eat them! Because of this, farmers can grow them in abundance without much worry about keeping their crops safe.
The same cannot be said for Arabica beans (at least most of the time). Since coffee arabica grows in parts of Africa and South America, it has to be protected from many predators such as elephants, monkeys, squirrels, etc. This makes their growing process much more expensive.
This is why coffee companies tend to sell Robusta beans at much lower prices than Arabica beans. However, this doesn’t mean that you should ignore the high-quality Arabica beans!
For one thing, they’re much more flavorful and smooth. It just means that you might have to spend a bit more money if you want good quality coffee.
A big factor that makes these two beans so different is where there are grown. I’ve already touched on this earlier but just for a quick recap.
The arabica coffee plant grew in tropical areas, so often it had to be protected from many different types of natural predators. As a result, the growing process for this plant is much more difficult than that of Robusta beans.
On the other hand, Robusta grew mostly in areas where there weren’t as many predators so farmers didn’t have to worry as much. Because of this, they grew in abundance and were way cheaper than Arabica was!
In addition to where the plant grew, there’s also how it was processed after it was harvested. Coffee beans need to be separated from the rest of the coffee cherries that grow on the coffee plant.
This is usually done by a machine that picks the beans and separates them from the rest of the fruit. However, this process can also be done manually. Some people prefer doing it this way because they believe that it makes the beans taste more flavorful!
Arabica coffee beans are always processed manually, but Robusta sometimes has to be done by a machine, depending on where it was grown since some places might not have the land available.
This is a topic that doesn’t come up as often but it’s still something important to mention. Both Arabica and Robusta coffee have evolved into many different types of breeds over the past several years. Some of them are more mild or strong, others have been purposely modified to produce less caffeine, etc.
Here are just a few examples of coffee breeds that are out there!
- Caturra coffee (Robusta) is a breed that was developed in Brazil. It has plenty of sugar and less caffeine, so it’s perfect for people who want to have an afternoon pick-me-up without the jitters!
- Maragogype coffee (Arabica) is a rare breed named after the region it was first grown in. This bean has more caffeine and less sugar, making it perfect for those who love a strong cup of Joe.
- Typica coffee (Arabica) is another common coffee type that’s been around for many years.
- Bourbon coffee (Arabica) is a breed that was originally found in Réunion but it has since been exported to other places around the world. It’s a very mild and mellow bean perfect for those who don’t like strong coffee.
So, even though Robusta and Arabica are on opposite sides of the spectrum in terms of where they were grown, how they were processed, and taste, being on opposite sides doesn’t mean that one is better than the other.
How To Know If You Prefer Robusta?
Although both coffee types have their unique qualities, it’s impossible to tell whether you prefer one over the other without trying them both!
Here are just a few pointers that might help you decide what type of coffee is your favorite.
- If you like something that has more caffeine and less flavor, then Robusta is probably your ticket to happiness!
- You would like Robusta if you prefer a more bitter flavor of the coffee.
- You might want to try Robusta coffee if you drink your coffee on an empty stomach! Just like espresso, the high caffeine content in this type of bean is digested faster than other types of coffees.
How To Know If Arabica Is For You?
And here are a few things to note about Arabica coffee and if it’s right for you.
- If you’re looking to have a more full-bodied, flavorful cup of coffee then Arabica is the way to go.
- You might like Arabica coffee if you prefer a less bitter, more sweet cup of coffee.
- You would probably prefer Arabica coffee if you drink your coffee with food or after eating! This type of bean is digested much slower than Robusta so it’s perfect to pair with a meal or dessert.
Now that you know the difference between Robusta and Arabica you can make a more informed decision on what type of coffee will be the best fit for your tastes!
Are There Other Coffee Types?
Well, if you’ve made it this far, then you already know that there are two main types!
Coffee beans can also be classified by region, country, or even the altitude where they were grown. And as you saw in the above diversity section, there are many different blends. However, these all stem from the two main types first.
So, if you want to discover the best coffee type for your unique taste buds and preferences, then you’ll need to know a bit more about each one. Fortunately, we’ve already taken care of that for you! And now that you have that information, you can more easily choose which type of coffee is right for you.
And trust me – there are plenty of great things to love about both! So, what are you waiting for? Go and get your coffee and in the meantime, this article is here as a resource for you anytime!