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Arabica vs. Robusta Coffee - What's the Difference?

When you choose your daily coffee, you probably don’t think a whole lot about the type of coffee beans used to produce it. Ultimately, you think that all coffee beans look the same when roasted. There are actually twenty-five different species of coffee beans in the world, with the two primary ones used for cultivation being Arabica and Robusta. There are key differences between the two, not just in terms of flavor, but also in characteristics and growing conditions. Since Arabica and Robusta are the most important coffee bean types, we’re here to help you gain a thorough understanding of those differences.

Arabica Coffee Beans

Arabica coffee accounts for about 75% of the world’s coffee production, because it is considered to be the most flavorful of the coffee species. Also known botanically as Coffea Arabica, this species of coffee is believed to have originated in Central Ethiopia. Delicate and susceptible to a variety of pests, diseases, as well as harsh weather conditions like drought and frost, Arabica coffee trees require a lot of care and attention in order to attain their full potential. Growth: Since they are well suited to warm, tropical climates, Arabica trees flourish when the air is heavy with humidity. Arabica coffee trees grow at altitudes as high as 7,000 ft. above sea level, and usually take up to 7 years to fully mature. These trees do best at temperatures of 59-75° F, and can yield anywhere from 1 pound to 11 pounds of coffee per growing season. Flavor: Arabicas generally have a range of tastes from soft and sweet, to fruity and zesty. There are actually different types of Arabica coffee beans called cultivars, all of which are known for their different flavors and attributes. Physical Characteristics: Arabica beans are flatter and more elongated, and are deep green, almost blue in color prior to roasting.  

Robusta Coffee Beans

After Arabica coffee, Robusta is the second most popular variety of coffee beans, accounting for about 15% of the world’s coffee consumption. These beans are botanically known as Coffea Canephora, and are believed to have originated in Sub-Saharan Africa. Unlike Arabica trees, Robusta coffee trees require less care and attention, and are resistant to most pests and diseases. Robusta beans are often considered much less superior to Arabica beans. Growth: In comparison with Arabica, Robusta trees can be grown in more flexible temperatures, but they are also best suited to humid, tropical climates. Robusta grow best at altitudes of 0-2,300 ft. above sea level and at temperatures of 75-86°F. While Robusta require more rainfall, they are cheaper to cultivate, as they do not require several cycles of pesticide and herbicide treatment, and produce higher yields.  Flavor: Robusta coffee is known for its strong, “robust”, earthy flavor, and its acidity. These coffee beans contain more acid and caffeine content than any Arabica. They are used as caffeine boosters as well as fillers to improve the taste of flat or weak tasting coffee. When Robusta is treated with the same amount of care given to Arabica coffee, it can attain better refinement to yield a milder flavor than usual. Physical Characteristics: Robusta beans are flat, but not as much as Arabica, and are more rounded. They are pale green with a bit of brown or grey prior to roasting.   Now that you are equipped with some handy coffee bean knowledge, you can use it to impress your friends and look like a true coffee expert! Have you grown tired of your boring brew? At CoffeeAM, we can easily give your coffee a wake-up call with our extensive selection of coffees. All of our coffees are Arabica varietals, and we are deeply committed to consistently bringing you the highest quality coffee.
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