Key Differences Between Robusta and Arabica Coffee

arabica coffee, arabica, robusta coffee, robusta, gourmet coffee, types of coffee beans

On several occasions, we have discussed how neither Arabica coffee nor Robusta coffee beans can be declared ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than the other. Both have the potential to produce an extraordinary cup of coffee, catering to the tastes and preferences of their own unique audiences. 

True gourmet coffee can be produced using either, or a combination of the two.

But when it comes to the physical properties of these two types of coffee beans, there are indeed significant differences. Not to mention, differences in how arabica coffee and Robusta coffee taste.

If you ever wondered what separates Robusta and arabica coffee beans beyond personal preferences alone, this is how these two types of coffee beans differ:

  1. There is a major difference in taste between Robusta beans and Arabica coffee beans, which can be picked up on with a single sip of a quality cup. Robusta is often described as having a much more intense or even burnt-tasting flavor than its counterpart. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, as it could be exactly what some people are looking for in their cup of coffee.
  2. In addition, Robusta coffee beans generally deliver a much more intense kick of caffeine. While the average caffeine content of Arabica coffee is up to 1.7%, Robusta beans step this up to a maximum of 3.5%. That’s approximately twice the hit of caffeine from the same cup of coffee, which again can sometimes be a good thing.
  3. The natural sugar content of these two types of coffee beans is also quite different, which may go some way to explain why Arabica is the preferred choice for most. Arabica coffee beans contain approximately twice the amount of natural sugar as Robusta beans, making for a sweeter and smoother overall flavor profile.
  4. Cultivating Robusta beans is not only easier, but results in a much more prolific harvest when the cherries are ripe. On average, a mature Arabica coffee tree will grow to around 2.5 to 3.5 meters in height. By contrast, a mature Robusta coffee tree can easily reach 6 meters in height. The bigger the tree, the more coffee cherries it produces and the higher the output of the farm.
  5. You can also spot the difference between arabica coffee beans and Robusta coffee beans at a glance. Arabica coffee beans tend to have the more characteristic ‘coffee bean’ shape, which is slightly oval. A Robusta bean is usually notable by its more circular shape, though is of course no less attractive.
  6. Last up, Arabica is the gourmet coffee choice for most, so today’s coffee production sector focuses a bit more on Arabica cultivation. In fact, 60% of the world’s coffee production is Arabica, with the remaining 40% going the way of Robusta.

Once again, outright distinctions cannot be drawn between these two types of coffee beans by way of quality or enjoyment. They both have unique properties and cater to entirely different audiences, though can be just as delicious as one another.

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