Arabica vs. Robusta Coffee Plants
In the coffee world, there are primarily two species of coffee that is sold around the world: Arabica and Canephora, also known as Robusta.
Even without looking for it, you have seen this all over coffee bags and pods in the grocery store. You may notice that these items have "100% Arabica" on them.
As a consumer, we see percentages thrown around all the time. Here are a few examples:
Sanitizer: Kills 99.99% of all bacteria
Fruit: 100% Organic
Chocolate: 70% Cocoa
But, when it comes to coffee, what exactly does it mean that our coffee is 100% Arabica?
It may be easy to assume that 100% Arabica is automatically a preferable choice considering the heavy emphasis that is placed onto the labeling of the coffee packaging. Does it invoke a certain consumer response? Does it make you trust the product more, even though you may not know what it means?
What is less known to the world of coffee is the Robusta species. The question remains, why isn't the Robusta coffee species more prevalent in grocery stores and if it is, why is it not advertised as heavily on the label?
Perceptions Around Robusta Coffee
In the coffee industry, there are common perceptions about Robusta that may indicate why it is less known.
1. Flavor Difference
Common Arabica coffees tend to have more potent flavor notes than Robusta coffees. For example, a Tanzanian pea berry coffee bean may have flavor notes of citrus, along with other fruits. Fruity flavor notes are less common in Robusta and you tend to get more Earthy flavor notes.
Although Robusta coffee beans may provide less of a fruity taste, it is not fair to right them off because of it. Many blends rely on the addition of Robusta beans to balance out fruity flavors.
Additionally, it is incredibly generalist to explain Robusta beans as being Earthy. Each different Robusta bean type, processing method, farm location, and other variables can produce different flavor notes.
Robusta coffee has a higher caffeine content than Arabica coffee. Many attribute the higher caffeine content to a stronger, more bitter taste.
Although it may have a higher caffeine content, it makes it a perfect bean to add to any coffee that you may want an extra caffeine boost. For many, a simple cup of 100% Arabica may not get the job done and they find themselves having to drink 3-5 cups of coffee a day! Just to stay awake!
It is important to monitor your caffeine intake, so when electing Robusta coffee over Arabica, be sure to keep the caffeine content in mind.
3. Natural Conditions
Arabica coffee is grown best at higher altitudes than Robusta. Common altitudes for Arabica range from 750m all the way to 1,800m! The higher conditions for Arabica allow the plant to be developed for longer due to the cooler temperatures, yet abundant access to sunlight. The plant is also subject to an ideal temperature and humidity range.
Contrastingly, Robusta coffee plants can be grown in altitudes less than 700m. Keeping a low altitude means keeping a higher average climate. These plants require a warmer and tropical climate to develop into a mature bean. Because these plants do not need to formulate macromolecules that will give fruity, aromatic components like Arabica plants, they have a shorter maturation period.
The difference between high and low altitude farming is completely dependent on the plant. However, many may think that the higher is better, regardless of bean type. This may be why people choose Arabica coffee over Robusta.
Giving Robusta Coffee A Try
While it is extremely uncommon that you will find yourself drinking a cup of coffee that is 100% Robusta, start looking out for blends and varieties that may include Robusta beans.
Because of the unique and more natural tasting flavor notes, it may make you pleasantly delighted that you tried it.
Additionally, if you know you will need to work those long nights, then a blend with Robusta is right for you.
Lucky for you, we are about to drop a new blend that has double the caffeine...
In the meantime, you can check out our freshly roasted single-origin coffee that has Arabica beans here. Or, you can see our Fall Blend that is currently on sale that has both Arabica and Robusta beans!