We always see phrases such as “100% Arabica” or “made from the finest Arabica” on ads and posters, but most people, if asked, wouldn’t know what that means. In simple terms, Arabica and Robusta are just two of the 120+ different species of Coffee – Coffea genus – and they account for 98% of the coffee production in the world.What we need to know as coffee drinkers and lovers, is that there is a big difference between the two types in terms of flavor.
Once roasted, Robusta coffee beans will most likely result in a cup that is bitter, low in acidity, with heavy body and mouthfeel, earthy, wood and leather notes, and no subtle or exciting flavors. Arabica beans are considered of much higher quality displaying notes of fruits, nuts, herbs, spices, and chocolate; they have distinctive bodies and complex aromas depending on the variety, processing method and roasting technique. It’s now easy to see why most coffee roasters choose to use Arabica beans.
Robusta plants grow in hot tropical areas with high rainfall and humidity and at low altitude. As the name indicates, these plants are robust and resistant to harsh growing conditions, pests, and diseases. They also yield a lot more fruit per plant. That makes the beans cheaper and ideal for creating instant coffee.
Arabica plants grow at higher altitudes, between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, in rich and fertile, many times volcanic, free-draining soils. The yield per plant is much lower than the Robusta, and it varies according to the variety of Arabica. These plants also grow slower, allowing the fruit to develop all those characteristic flavors and aromas that we look for in specialty coffee.
Some interesting facts about Robusta coffee:
– It accounts for almost 40% of the world’s production.
– Vietnam is the country that grows the most amount of Robusta.
– Other countries that produce it are Brazil, India and some African countries.
– Robusta is not always a synonym of low quality, some farms grow it with great care, and a specialty industry is slowly emerging.
– Good quality robusta beans are sometimes used in Italian blends to give body and crema.
Some interesting facts about Arabica coffee:
– It accounts for almost 60% of the world’s production.
– It has less caffeine content than Robusta.
– Arabica contains nearly twice the concentration of sugar than Robusta.
– It can grow at an altitude of up to 2800 masl.
– Each continent produces distinctive profile characteristics.
– It originated in Ethiopia.
– Brazil is the biggest producer.
At Sipping Duck, we only use Arabica. Even our instant coffee “bludger’s edition” is made from Arabica beans.