What is the difference between Arabica coffee and Robusta coffee?

by Dania
(Fort Mill, SC)

Robusta Coffee Cherries

Robusta Coffee Cherries


QUESTION:


Hi. I’m learning about how to make decent coffee at home. At first I thought this would be easy, but it seems there is a ton to learn! One of the things I want to get my head around right now is the difference between Arabica and Robusta coffees.

Am I right in thinking these are two species of coffee? And what’s the difference between them? And why do some companies boast about offering 100% Arabica beans? Does this mean they are better?

Thanks,

Dania


ANSWER:

Dania…thanks for the question. Or should I say questions?!

Yes, these are two species of coffee.

You see companies claiming 100% Arabica for the reason you mentioned. Arabica coffee tastes better. That’s the bottom line. They offer a far wider range of flavors. The entire specialty coffee industry is based on the superior taste profile of Arabica beans. Without them there would be no Peets, no Starbucks and no local specialty roaster.

So why do people bother to grow and sell Robusta coffee beans?

Plenty of reasons.

Robusta beans are easier to grow, are more resistant to pests and disease, and can be grown at much lower altitudes. They also deliver more pounds of coffee beans per acre. In other words, they’re easier to grow and cheaper to produce.

100% Robusta coffee doesn’t make for a very enjoyable cup of coffee. But it can be used as part of a blend, to add extra body to an Arabica coffee. In fact, plenty of blends created to make espresso include Robusta beans for that very reason…for the extra body.

That said, while Robusta coffee is sometimes included in a blend to improve the overall quality of the coffee, it is more often used to create a cheap coffee.

If you look at the cheapest coffees in your local superstore, you’ll often see the claim “100% Coffee”, rather than “100% Arabica Coffee”. This is because increasing the percentage of Robusta beans allows the company to sell cheaper coffee and still make a profit.

The trouble is, the greater the proportion of Robusta beans in a blend, the worse the coffee tastes.

One final fact…Robusta coffee beans contain a lot more caffeine than Arabica beans. So if you’re pulling an all-nighter, you might want to go for the inferior taste but bigger buzz you get with Robusta.

Best wishes,

Nick

Comments for What is the difference between Arabica coffee and Robusta coffee?

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Dec 30, 2013
Cafe Interruptus !
by: pistachio

well,,, thank God we are finally off the Yuban Filibuster that has dominated this site for I think now about two years.......

Finding a decent store bought brand of coffee is far more difficult than ever before.....so,, making good coffee at home is not such an easy task....

I have noticed a lowering of quality of all of the brands that once were pretty good...... Maxwell House and Folgers used to be tasty - now - not so much.

I have had good experience with A&P Pure Columbian.

It is unfortunate that to find a good flavor you may have to go to a Coffee Store and that means about triple the prices of the good ol supermarket brands.

I have found that near the coffee in the supermarket or in the Latin or Import section you may find brick-pacs of Latin Coffee / you may find these better by far than the typical canned coffees. They are ground finer and they will say espresso but Expresso they are not,, they brew a much stronger coffee but not expresso black and I have found then Never Bitter but with a richer and deeper flavor than common American label coffee. A name that may be easire to find is Cafe Bustelo, and also Caribe proved to be very good.

If you find that the grind is too fine then I suggest that you add a bit of typical coarser ground coffee to increase porosity so the coffee maker does not back up.....

Good luck,,,, Coffee is a great adventure....and coffee is one of the greatest pleasures in my life.....

pistachio




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