The Key Differences Between Arabica Coffee and Robusta Coffee | Types of Coffee Beans

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


As soon as you begin taking coffee seriously, one of the first things you take notice of is the different types of coffee beans available. Specifically, the fact that the vast majority of beans on the market are split between Robusta coffee and Arabica coffee. In addition, you also immediately notice that most examples of gourmet coffee come from the Arabica coffee side of the fence.

But why is it that Arabica coffee is considered the gold standard of gourmet coffee on a global basis? What is it that separates Arabica coffee and Robusta coffee to such a significant extent?

The short answer… well, they’re two completely different types of coffee beans, for starters. But in terms of their individual properties and characteristics, some of the most defining differences between the two types of coffee beans include the following:

  1. First of all, Robusta coffee typically has a somewhat higher caffeine content than Arabica coffee. Not necessarily a disadvantage, though a higher caffeine content usually translates to a more bitter taste. While Arabica coffee typically contains about 1.5% caffeine, this increases to an average of 2.7% with Robusta coffee.
  2. In terms of the overall flavour profile, there’s really no comparison. In fact, some often compare the taste of low-quality Robusta coffee with burnt rubber or smoking tyres. Not the characteristic flavour profile of all Robusta coffee, but still.
  3. Another factor that significantly influences the flavour profile of Arabica coffee is its considerably higher concentration of sugar and lipids. All of which has a huge impact on the quality and flavour of your favourite gourmet coffee.
  4. Looking at things in terms of price alone, the average batch of Robusta coffee beans from the farm will typically set you back around 50% less than an equivalent batch of Arabica coffee. This is precisely why the former tends to make its way into the cheaper and less desirable generic coffees that find their way onto supermarket shelves.
  5. As for why Robusta coffee tends to be so much less expensive, it primarily comes down to the comparative simplicity of the cultivation and general production process. There’s far more of the stuff available in the first place, which in combination with its less exquisite flavour profile makes for a significantly cheaper product.
  6. If looking to identify the differences between the plants by visual cues alone, Robusta coffee trees can grow to a towering 6 metres, while their Arabica coffee counterparts don’t normally grow beyond around 4.5 metres.
  7. There are also differences between the coffee beans themselves. Arabica coffee beans present a more oval shape, while Robusta coffee beans are more circular in nature.
  8. Last but not least, while there are distinct differences in terms of the overall flavour profile, it’s not to say that Robusta coffee cannot be just as delicious as Arabica coffee. For example, compare premium quality Robusta coffee to low-grade Arabica coffee and there really is no comparison to speak of.

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