Arabica Coffee & Robusta Coffee - What's the Difference?

Everyone has their preferences when it comes to coffee. Some people love finding fruity and floral notes in their coffees, others love the taste of cacao and nuts, and others look for that dark roast taste with just the right amount of grit. Coffee can get complex, but there are some simple ways of breaking down different kinds of coffees. One such way is to get an idea of what type of coffee you’re having, but let’s keep things simple with the two most popular ones: Arabica and Robusta.

Arabica is the coffee that the majority of people will have probably tried, considering it makes up for more than 60% of coffee produced in the world. It is typically grown in higher altitudes (1300 miles above sea level and above) and tends to fare better in cooler climates. Robusta, on the other hand, takes up a huge chunk of the remaining production, and typically has a distinct bitterness associated with it. Tasting harsher than Arabica, you’re very likely to find Robusta in 3-in-1 instant coffee packs, and at times in espresso blends looking to give customers a distinctly strong-tasting coffee.

How can these two coffee types differ so greatly in taste? Starting with caffeine content, there’s almost twice the amount of caffeine in Robusta as there is in Arabica. If you’re wondering what that has to do with taste, it’s because caffeine has a naturally bitter taste. Another reason for the bitterness in Robusta can be attributed to it only having half the amount of sugar that Arabica does.  

There’s a deeper science to explore between these two important coffee types, with vast flavors that have only begun to be explored, particularly on the robusta side. Arabica coffee has been the constant highlight in the world of specialty coffee, so it should come as no surprise that there are wheels upon wheels of different flavor charts to explore the depths of Arabica, while fine and specialty Robusta is really only coming to the surface now. That’s the great thing about coffee: there’s just so much more to find when it comes to the kinds of flavors that we have and have yet to discover.

Words & by Ryan Uy (@thenameisrye)

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