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What is the Difference Between Arabica and Robusta Coffee Beans?

In this post hopefully, we’ll help clear up the whole arabica vs robusta coffee bean debate, and help you understand which one is best and why.

Do you know that the majority of coffee production in the world comes from two main varieties?

These two main coffee varieties are Arabica and Robusta.

Arabica vs Robusta Coffee Beans
Photo by Mark Daynes on Unsplash

While Arabica has gained a lot of reputation, Robusta seems to be a bit underrated.

In this article, we will be comparing these two coffee species and discuss which one is the best.

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You may have come across some coffee shops and coffee brands who call their coffee as “100% Arabica”.

This clearly indicates that Arabica has a significant reputation in the market. But what is the reason behind this hype?

Why there is no “100% Robusta” signboard outside a coffee shop?

Let’s discuss each and everything about your most favorite cup of goodness!

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What is Arabica Coffee?

Arabica is the most popular coffee variety in the world. Subsequently, It dominates, with a whopping 75% of the total coffee production across the globe.

Arabica is slightly more acidic and full of flavors. It is also sweeter and has tonnes of floral, fruity, nutty, and chocolate tones.

Arabica is very soft, delicate, and has special cultivation requirements such as climate, altitude, and temperature.

Due to this reason, it is more expensive than other coffee species.

Arabica beans are well-shaped oval beans with a defined, smooth crease at the center.

The size of these beans is larger than the Robusta beans.

What is Robusta Coffee?

Robusta is not as popular as Arabica, however, it still covers 25% of the total coffee production in the world, which is still a good figure.

Robusta beans are grown in the regions of South East Asia, West Africa, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

It is generally less acidic than Arabica meaning it is less sweet.

The simpler acidity and mild taste of Robusta is often compared with the tones of burnt rubber and wood.

The Robusta coffee is easier to grow and harvest, it doesn’t have any specific requirements, thus it is much cheaper than Arabica.

Moreover, it is loved by coffeeholics as it contains 25% more caffeine.

Coming to the Robusta coffee beans, they are small, slightly rough and circular in shape.

Now:

Let’s see how they differ.

Quick Comparison

Arabica BeansRobusta Beans
Shape:Oval, with ‘S’ center splitRounded, with straighter split
Taste:Soft-sweet to more intense.Raw peanuts, not as sweet.
Caffeine:0.8% to 1.5%1.7% to 3.5%
Sugar:Higher ContentLower Content
Cost:Higher CostLower Cost
Market:70%30%

Arabica Beans vs Robusta Beans.

There are two main varieties of Arabica, Bourbon, and Typica, where Robusta is an entire variety on its own.

In fact, all coffee beans are divided into these two broad categories: Arabica and Robusta.

The main differences lie in their taste, flavor, growing conditions, and of course the cost.

As we already discussed above, Arabica beans are bigger, smoother, and have a symmetrical crease at the center.

Robusta beans are small, circular, and don’t have a defined center crease.

Arabica is grown under specific conditions, therefore the beans are more flavorful than any other coffee variety.

Taste: Arabica Coffee vs Robusta Coffee.

Generally, the Arabicas have a wide variety of taste ranges which varies from soft-sweet to more intense and tangy.

The raw Arabica beans smell like fresh blueberries while the roasted beans have a more fruity and sweet smell.

On the other hand, the raw Robusta beans smell like raw peanuts. They have a slightly rough taste and are less sweet.

The taste is often compared to oatmeal.

Now we know why a majority of coffee drinkers prefer Arabica over Robusta. But the question is why their taste is so different from each other?

The answer is simple, Robusta beans have strong caffeine content and they also lack sugars.

This is the reason why they taste bitter, stronger. They usually constitute nutty, woody, and earthy undertones.

But these qualities are equally loved by the coffee junkies who like their daily cup to be more intense, strong, and full of kick.

Arabica coffee tastes very smooth, silky and sweet. It has perfect floral, fruity and tonnes of other undertones.

This is the reason, why most of the people prefer it over any other coffee varieties.

Also, note that some high-quality Robusta beans taste truly amazing and unbeatable. Some people enjoy it even more than the classic Arabica.

So, it shouldn’t be underrated.

Cultivation Requirements: Arabica Coffee vs Robusta Coffee.

Robusta beans are relatively easy to grow than the Arabica beans. They come from a strong plant that can withstand harsh growing conditions easily.

They don’t require much care and maintenance. The Robusta beans are grown in low altitudes ranging between 200-800 meters.

Also, they are not attacked by pests.

Arabica vs Robusta: Harvesting of Coffee Beans

Overall, they grow in abundance even on a small piece of land and requires very low production cost.

On the contrary, Arabica coffee beans are very delicate and require special growing conditions.

They can only be grown in cool and subtropical climates. They also require nutrient-rich soil, adequate moisture, sun, and shade.

Due to their fragility, they can be easily attacked by pests and will not withstand extreme temperatures either.

Furthermore, they are grown at a high altitudes ranging from 600-2000 meters.

Caffeine Content: Arabica Vs Robusta Coffee

Apart from the differences between their cultivation requirements, appearance, and flavors, both of these coffee species differ in terms of caffeine and the presence of other chemical compounds.

Robusta coffee is known for its strong caffeine content.

It contains 2.7% of caffeine which is way higher than the Arabica beans that only have 1.5% caffeine.

This is the reason why Robusta is preferred by the people who love to have a good dose of caffeine in order to start their days.

Moreover, caffeine is not the only content that differentiate these two species. They also differ in sugar and antioxidants content.

Arabica beans contain 60% more lipids as compared to Robusta.

We will discuss it in detail in the upcoming section.

Many of you may have already know that coffee is rich in antioxidants. However, the types and the content can vary between different species.

For instance, Arabica beans have about 5 to 8% of Chlorogenic acid and Robustas have 7 to 10% of antioxidants which is again better than Arabica.

As you can clearly see, both of these varieties differ in terms of their caffeine and other chemical contents.

Sugar Content: Arabica Vs Robusta Coffee

Let’s be honest here, most of us prefer sweeter and sugary beverages over bitter and sharp ones due to our sweet tooth.

If you’re one of those, then you will look no further than the Arabica. It has almost double the sugar content than Robusta – the reason why Robusta is ignored by most.

It has around 60% more lipid and sugar content.

But the good news is, both varieties have several health benefits. They are rich in powerful antioxidants that help you to fight harmful invaders in your body.

They also work great at reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

Cost Of The Beans: Arabica Vs Robusta

As you may have already got the idea till now, Arabica coffee beans are priced much higher than the Robusta beans.

This is because of the obvious reasons, their specific cultivation requirements, and maintenance. Moreover, the cost is also affected by the higher demand across the world.

Robusta is much cheaper than Arabica because it is easy to grow and requires less cost of production.

It is usually priced almost half the cost of Arabica. At present, the price of Robusta is around 98.25 US cents per pound, with Arabica priced at 163.44 US cents per pound.

You get what you pay for, so there is absolutely no rant over the high price of Arabica.

Where Are They Used?

If you go through the finest coffee shops and cafes, you are more likely to find Arabica coffee.

In fact, most of the coffee companies and elite cafés use “100% Arabica” signboard as a badge of honor.

So, you can say that Arabica is mostly served in coffee shops and is available exclusively.

Although it is popular in the world, it doesn’t mean Robusta is less deserving.

Robusta beans are widely used in Italian roasts, especially for making espresso.

This is because of their strong caffeine content. Moreover, Robusta coffee beans are widely used for the production of instant coffee.

In fact, most of the coffees you get at the stores are Robusta. Instant coffee is the go-to option to many, so Robusta is clearly a way to go and is no less than Arabica!

Arabica coffee beans are used mostly in coffee shops around the world.

Wrapping Up

Both Arabica and Robusta are unique and rule the world in terms of widely used coffee species.

Although Arabica is slightly more sweet and flavorful, Robusta is no less in terms of taste.

If you’re a coffee lover and want to explore more flavors and taste, then you should definitely try both of these coffees.

So, Arabica vs Robusta – which one is the winner?

Both are winners.

Both have their unique taste and characteristics. You should definitely expand your palate by tasting these amazing coffees.