The Difference Between Arabica and Robusta
Robusta coffee plants are more robust and insect resistant — they’re easier to grow and are more tolerant to changes in weather patterns. They also grow at lower altitudes. Robusta beans are grown almost exclusively in Africa and Indonesia, with Vietnam being a primary producer. In Brazil, Conilon, a Brazilian Robusta, is primarily grown in the state of Espirto Santo.
Arabica beans are grown at higher altitudes, yield less fruit per plant than Robusta, and generally don’t grow as tall. Arabica beans are primarily grown in Central and South America. In Brazil, most Arabica beans are grown in the state of Minas Gerais.
Due to the differences in their growth patterns and because Arabica beans are generally seen as superior to Robusta, Arabica beans are also more expensive.
It’s technically possible to differentiate between Robusta and Arabica beans simply by their shape. Arabica beans are elongated, and Robusta beans are more round.
Perhaps the most important difference between Robusta and Arabica beans is their taste and caffeine content — why else drink coffee except for that delicious boost of energy?
Arabica beans have a fruitier flavor with higher sugar and acidity levels. Robusta tends to be nuttier and more bitter. When it comes to caffeine content, however, Robusta takes the lead. At 2.7 percent, Robusta contains nearly double the 1.5 percent caffeine of Arabica.
Given this variance in levels of sugars and caffeine, it makes sense that the chemical makeup of the beans reacts differently in the roasting process, therefore yielding different flavors.
While consumers tend to prefer the flavor of Arabica beans, Robusta is often used in blends, especially for espresso, as it is said to boost the caffeine content, the crema, and also provide a deeper flavor.
Despite Robusta being seen as a generally inferior bean to Arabica, not all beans within their given category are created equal. High-quality Robusta beans can taste better — and cost more — than lower quality Arabica beans.
While Arabica seems to be the preferred bean of most coffee consumers, making up 70 percent of the world’s bean production, most coffees are a blend of the two.
Our Gourmet Coffee is 100% Arabica. Our Tradicional Espresso is a blend of the two.