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Whether you are new to coffee or been drinking coffee your whole life, you might notice some of your coffee beans labeled as Arabica or Robusta.
Did you know that there are over 100 species of coffee available? Arabica and Robusta are just two different species of coffee which are the most commonly cultivated beans for coffee lovers.
Today we will compare the two favorite types of coffee beans: Arabica and Robusta.
Arabica vs Robusta: A quick introduction
Before we provide you with a breakdown of the beans here is some brief information on each of the varieties.
The shape of Arabica coffee beans is oval and flat and their taste is lighter, smoother, and sweeter. More oils exist in the beans themselves allowing them to pack more zesty, fruity, and sweet flavors. Out of all coffee produced in the world about 75% of the beans are Arabica but these are relatively expensive to purchase.
Robusta beans are smaller and rounder while packing is stronger, bitter, and powerful taste. Robusta beans are not full of oil and they often have more natural, and heavier flavors. 25% of the coffee found in the market is Robusta but they are inexpensive compared to Arabica beans.
Let’s try to understand the reasons why coffee drinkers, like yourself, have a preference.
The reason is pretty damn simple and all boil down to taste.
The higher caffeine content, lack of sweetness, tendency to taste stronger, bitter and have earthy, nutty and woody overtones make Robusta Beans perfect for espresso to add a lot of kick and flavor to every cup of coffee.
Arabica beans, on the other hand, tend to taste sweeter and fruitier compared to Robusta making them more popular than their counterparts.
However, it really depends on your mood, your day, your take on how you want your coffee to taste, at that very moment. High-quality Robusta beans can taste just as good as Arabica beans and in some cases, many will enjoy having it more than a high-quality Arabica bean.
Robusta beans may have earned a reputation of being lower in quality as compared to Arabica beans but that certainly isn’t the case. Both beans bring unique flavors to the table. They can be considered suitable for coffee drinkers who prefer some extra caffeine along with a stronger taste but it would be an injustice to claim they are low-quality as it would be closer to the truth.
Plants, cultivation, and cost
For most coffee drinkers, Arabica coffee bean is considered as the most popular because of its smoother, lighter and softer taste which is easy for people to enjoy. Brazil and Latin America is currently the largest producer of Arabica coffee while Vietnam is leading the way for Robusta coffee.
A higher attitude is preferred for growing these beans which are more vulnerable to pests and are generally difficult to nurture and harvest. The plants grow to around 15 feet and do not provide high yields. For these reasons, it requires more harvesting on the part of the producer to get the desired amount of coffee needed to brew.
Robusta beans are not as popular or consumed like Arabica beans due to the bitter taste they have. They are cultivated at a lower altitude and are popularly grown in the Eastern Hemisphere in countries like Africa, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Vietnam produces the highest number of Robusta plants.
Robusta is easier to cultivate as the plants themselves are not susceptible to pests and diseases. They can grow 20 feet tall without requiring constant attention and care like the plants of Arabica beans. Robusta plants also provides a higher yield making them more efficient to cultivate.
What is more expensive?
Arabica coffee beans fetch a higher price than the Robusta coffee beans. This is largely due to the difficulties growing and harvesting as well as the demand for Arabica beans. Think of Mcdonalds serving their coffee to millions of people, and they use Arabica.
Apart from the differences between the plants and the cultivation Arabica and Robusta beans contain different levels of minerals and chemical compounds.
For example, the caffeine content in Robusta beans is higher than in Arabica beans. The caffeine content in Robusta beans is 2.7% as compared to 1.5% in Arabica beans. This will make you understand why Robusta is tailor-made for people who love a hearty boost of caffeine first thing in the morning.
The caffeine content between the two is not the only difference among the beans. Arabica beans have 60% more lipids and approximately double the number of natural sugars as compared to Robusta. This can have an impact on the taste of coffee which will be discussed later in this article.
Many people are aware that coffee in general packs contains many healthy antioxidants. However not many are aware that the antioxidants can vary between different coffee species. Arabica beans only have about 5.5-8% Chlorogenic acid while the content of CGA in Robusta beans is 7 to 10%.
As can be seen, the chemical makeup of these coffees and the results they can give us is quite distinct from each other.
Where are the beans used?
If you begin reading the fine print of the beans you find in your local coffee shop you will notice that most of them are Arabica coffee. Many coffee roasters are boasting that their beans are 100% Arabica, as if it is a badge of honor.
Arabica is the most popular variety of bean used in coffee but it does not indicate that Robusta beans haven’t made a place for themselves in the coffee world. You are likely to find a mixture of both Arabica and Robusta beans in many espresso shops, especially Italian roasts. Robusta beans can also be found in coffee which is higher in caffeine content.
Robusta beans are exclusively used in the production of instant coffee. Instant coffee is readily available caffeine fix helpful for users who are not concerned about favor making Robusta the instant go-to beans.
Arabica and Robusta both bring something unique to the world of coffee and should be recognized accordingly. If you’re a coffee lover looking forward to expanding your palate it would be worthwhile to give both beans a try.
Consider these primary characteristics when you drink either of them.