What's the difference between Arabica and Robusta beans?
At first glance, it may seem as if coffee beans are the same and produce identical flavours. But with over 100 different species of coffee, and a world of difference between each type, it is important that you know your beans. Arabica and Robusta remain as the two most commonly consumed coffee beans in the world. While both offering up a cup of coffee, the differences in their profiles can make a huge difference in the blend you want.
Although they are the top two, there still seems to be a strong bias towards one. According to recent research, Arabica beans make up around 75% of the coffee market while Robusta only makes about 25%. This difference could be attributed to the latter’s more bitter taste. Grown in lower altitudes, Robusta beans are a lot easier to harvest and are less susceptible to pests or disease. The plants produce a higher yield and contain much more caffeine than Arabica. This gives the beans a more nutty and earthy overtone. The harsher and more woody flavours are ideal for espresso when wanting to add a kick of flavour. However Robusta beans are most commonly used in instant coffee as it produces a higher caffeine intake and those drinking instant are usually more concerned about their energy than the actual flavour.
On the other hand, the more popular Arabica is known for its sweeter and more likeable taste. Arabica is generally grown at a higher altitude, which means they are more vulnerable to pests and diseases but can display a brighter acidity. With the plant producing a lower yield, they are also more difficult to cultivate, and the development time is longer. These beans almost double in the amount of natural sugars, providing its fruitier and softer taste. With the increased oils, they are able to pack more of these sweet flavours. As a result of this, Arabica has become the popular option and is more commonly seen in café’s.
Arabica and Robusta beans each have their own unique taste and appeal, being suited towards different kinds of brews. From variances as small as bean shape, to its flavour, understanding the differences between the beans is crucial in choosing the right one for you.