Get To Know Your Coffee

Differences Between Arabica and Robusta Coffee

Junior Racine
June 11, 2019

Differences Between Arabica and Robusta Coffee

All over the world, we have coffee drinkers and coffee lovers. We have people who cannot go a single morning without first enjoying a steaming cup of this dark brown brew, be it a simple straight Americano or espresso. Coffee is a drink that is becoming more of a culture around the world. If you consider yourself in this category of people who live by this culture, then you should be intrigued to gain some knowledge and insight regarding this worldwide popular culture.

In the circles of coffee fanatics around the world, the words Arabica and Robusta are probably thrown around a lot. Other coffee-related words are commonly in use, but, Arabica and Robusta are the focus here. The Arabica and Robusta happen to be the 2 most popular species of coffee in the world. Although there is a rather wide variety of coffee species, these 2 actually top the charts and can easily be found almost everywhere in the world.

In as much as Arabica and the Robusta coffee are both quite popular, they have apparent differences in specific characteristics. Let us take a look at the differences between these species of coffee. We do, however, want to first understand a bit about the individual species of coffee before comparing them.

Robusta Coffee

The botanical name for this species of coffee is Coffea canephora, it currently makes up 40% of the entire coffee population of the world, and it comes second place among the most popular coffees in the world. Initially, the Robusta coffee is from the Western and Central parts of sub-Saharan Africa, but today, it is widely grown mainly in Indonesia and Africa; even though, we find that the world’s largest producers of Arabica coffee just happens to be Vietnam.

The Robusta plant is one that is resilient and heat resistant although, it grows best at low altitudes, and it requires quite a lot of water. The plant spots white flowers which have a jasmine-like smell. The fruits take about 6 – 8 months to mature, and the beans usually look small, round and thick.

Arabica Coffee

The botanical name for this species of coffee is Coffea Arabica; this is quite unlike the Robusta which does not popularly go by its actual name. This species of coffee makes up 60% of the entire coffee population of the world. Originally, the Arabica coffee is from the highlands of South-western Ethiopia. Even though it is native to Ethiopia, the Arabica coffee was, in fact, first widely discovered and even written about in Arabia. This was around the 7th century when the coffee beans traveled from Ethiopia down to Arabia. It was in Arabia that the Arabica coffee beans were first brewed into a drink. In Ethiopia, it was simply being crushed and eaten with fat as a stimulant, although this is often disputed. In essence, this is where the Arabica coffee gets its name from.

The Arabica plant is one that is quite delicate and grows best in high altitudes. It is grown in midrange temperatures, and it requires humidity and shade to grow well. The plant also spots white flowers which have a jasmine-like smell. The fruits actually take about 7 – 9 months to mature, and the beans usually look oval.

Difference Between Arabica Coffee and Robusta Coffee

The different tastes and flavours of wines can be attributed to the different growth conditions of the grapes used in producing them. This is the same when it comes to coffee. There are so many countries in the world providing different species or even the same species of coffee and all of these different conditions for growth have an influence on the taste and the flavour of the final coffee blend. We have seen earlier a bit of the difference of these species as a result of their origins now we want to see just how different the species of coffee are.

Growing Conditions

It is only fair that we start with the most obvious of the differences between them. The Arabica coffee is typically grown in shaded areas of high altitudes and humidity, and as a result of this, the plant is delicate and quite susceptible to pests, unlike the Robusta which is grown in low altitudes with lots of water and is also resistant to heat. Its growing conditions cause it to be resilient, non-susceptible to pests, and even to produce hard fruits.

Taste

We have agreed earlier that like wine, the different growing conditions of coffee plants affect the flavors and taste of the brew. Here are the reasons why. TheRobusta coffee has low oil and low sugar content, which gives it a bitter taste; plus, it also has more caffeine than the Arabica, which also contributes to its bitter taste. This also means that it is absolutely great for making espressos and for having that extra kick. The Arabica, however, contains more oils and more sugar than the Robusta. This gives it a sweeter and even smoother taste. It also contributes to the distinct aroma that the Arabica has.

The Content Level of Chlorogenic Acid (CGA)

First of all, Chlorogenic acid (CGA), is actually an antioxidant which is quite significant in coffee and is also a deterrent to insects. The Robusta coffee contains between 7 – 10% chlorogenic acid while the Arabica contains between 5.5 – 8% chlorogenic acid. The difference in these CGA levels could also be part of the reason why the Arabica is more prone to pest attacks than theRobusta.

Price and Use

The Robusta coffee is more widely grown and is a lot easier to grow than the Arabica. Even though the Arabica is the most popular coffee in the world, it is more expensive than re Robusta. As a matter of fact, the price of the Arabica coffee can very easily be said to be twice the price of the Robusta coffee in today’s market.

As a result of the various differences that these species of coffees possess they are much better to be used for different types of drinks. For instance, most instant coffees and espresso blends are usually all made of Robusta coffee; this is mainly due to the high caffeine content of Robusta as it offers that extra strength. The Arabica, however, has a more sweet, subtle, and aromatic flavour to it plus it has lower caffeine content. It is for this reason that Arabica coffee is much preferred when you want to enjoy a cup of coffee leisurely at home simply. 

In as much as these species are quite distinct and different, many times you would find that some bags of coffee are actually a mix of both or even a blend with some other species of coffee. This mix can also influence the taste and flavour of your brew.  

If you are a coffee drinker, a coffee lover, a budding coffee lover or even if you just like learning about coffee, now you know all about the 2 most popular coffee species in the entire world and this knowledge can help you make better-informed decisions when picking out your next bag of coffee depending on what you want it for.

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