When a coffee lover learns that there are different coffee beans, it opens up a whole new sphere of coffee appreciation, and there are over 100 different coffee species globally. The two biggest names of commercial coffee are Arabica and Robusta. The beans may look very similar, but they are very different from each other characteristically.
Arabica is more acidic than Robusta, and this acidity offers complexity to the flavor and aroma of coffee. The fruity, bright notes in Arabica provide excitement for the palate, and they help jumpstart your morning.
The word acidity has some negative connotations, but it gives coffee similarities to wine, especially with the berry notes common in Arabica blends.
This article hopes to uncover more differences between Arabica and Robusta and decipher which coffee is better.
What Is The Difference Between Robusta And Arabica Coffee Bean?
All beans tend to look the same when they’re roasted, but many factors set them apart. Since Arabica and Robusta are the two main coffee species coffee houses use, let’s consider the differences between the two:
Arabica beans have a subtler, more aromatic taste, whereas Robusta beans have grain-like overtones with a harsh, almost peanut aftertaste.
2. CAFFEINE LEVEL
Robusta is much higher in caffeine than Arabica, almost double the amount. Robusta contains around 200 milligrams of caffeine for every 6-ounce cup. If energy matters more to you than flavor, then Robusta is a perfect choice.
Arabica is more acidic than Robusta as Robusta lacks citric and phosphoric acid. Acidity gives Arabica its sweet, fruity flavor. If you suffer from acid reflux, the lack of acidity in Robusta is a good thing.
4. CHLOROGENIC ACID
CGAs comprise part of the acidity in coffee beans without contributing to the sweet flavor itself. Arabica. CGA differs from other acids because it isn’t resistant to heat; during the roasting process, they don’t affect the flavor of coffee too much.
Arabica beans contain only moderate amounts of CGA, making them more vulnerable to insects, as CGA is a natural insect repellent.
Robusta beans contain high amounts of CGA, which helps their robust-ness. CGA repels insects due to its bitterness. This explains why the Robusta bean is more bitter.
There are countless ways to prepare coffee, even using it in recipes, other than the beverage. Some people eat chocolate-dipped whole beans as a snack. Coffee beans can also become body scrubs and face masks.
As a coffee beverage, Arabica beans are the most popular coffee species to use, and it has been that way since the 1960s in America. Now Arabica beans make up most of all coffee products.
Robusta beans were popular at one point and used in affordable coffee blends until consumers became more aware of the Arabica bean. Very few companies use Robusta beans exclusively in their coffee.
The cost of coffee depends on a few different factors, the most significant factor being popularity. The coffee’s origins and growing conditions also affect the value.
Arabica beans are the more expensive bean as they are in higher demand. Arabica doesn’t have the most straightforward growing conditions, which makes them costly to produce.
Robusta beans are cheap because they are not very popular. They don’t taste as pleasant as
Arabica beans. Robusta beans are not as hard or costly to produce as Arabica beans.
The agriculture of any crop is crucial to its production. Coffee beans are not beans but seeds harvested from fruit pits growing on the coffee plants’ stalks. They grow in warm climates with medium to high humidity.
The Arabica beans are difficult to grow. Firstly it takes seven years to grow fully. For the best quality, Arabica beans need to grow in altitudes of 1,500 m and more.
The plant also requires moderate temperatures and even amounts of rain. Arabica produces small white flowers and red berries, and the Arabica coffee beans grow in the center of the berries.
The Robusta plant is easier to cultivate, and it yields bigger crops. It doesn’t require specific growing conditions like the Arabica plant.
They repel insects and diseases and can grow at any altitude, as long as the temperatures are not too extreme. It is somewhat cold-hardy and drought-friendly
8. GROWING REGIONS
Arabica beans initially grew in Ethiopia. However, they now grow in different countries. Brazil is the highest producer of Arabica beans, producing five billion Arabica plants each year, making up half the total number of plants globally.
They also grow in Latin American countries like Mexico, Panama, Guatemala, and the Jamaican Blue Mountains.
Robusta beans grow in fewer countries because of their lack of demand. Vietnam is the highest producer of Robusta coffee; it also grows in parts of India and Africa.
9. LIPIDS AND SUGARS
Lipids and sugars enhance the flavor of coffee, so the higher the lipid and sugar content, the tastier the coffee.
Lipids are molecules that primarily makeup fats, and they add a creamier texture to the coffee. The bean’s sugar content will also improve the flavor and aroma of coffee.
Arabica beans are plentiful in lipids and sugars, which naturally give Arabica its favorable taste.
Robusta isn’t as high in lipids and sugars as Arabica, and its high caffeine content results in a slightly bitter taste. However, Robusta has a solid lipid count, and if you make espresso correctly, it can produce a delicious crema.
Which Is Better Arabica Or Robusta Coffee?
While Arabica contains less caffeine than Robusta, Arabica beans are thought to have a superior flavor. Arabica has a sweeter, smoother flavor, with notes of sugar and chocolate.
It also has overtones of berries and fruits. At the same time, Robusta has a harsher and more bitter taste with grainy overtones.
Over 60% of the world’s coffee production comes from Arabica cultivators. The Arabica plant requires specific growing conditions, but it produces delicious coffee with a glorious aroma.
With that said, not all Arabica is high quality; some of it is very ordinary. The plant won’t perform well unless it has certain conditions met. For this reason alone, there is a lot of poor-quality Arabicas every year on the market.
Unfortunately, Robusta has a lot of negative press in the coffee world. Since Robusta can grow anywhere and yields a high crop, it is cheap and commercial grade only suitable for instant coffee use.
However, some Robusta coffee is excellent. Robusta contains twice the caffeine as Arabica, and it has more chlorogenic acid, which gives coffee many health benefits.
Some excellent Robusta cultivators in Vietnam and India specialize in high-quality Robusta coffee. This Robusta isn’t cheap commercial-grade coffee, but rather a high-quality, strong coffee with a bright and distinct flavor.
Many coffee drinkers may not be aware that Robusta is found in many Arabica blends. Pure Arabica can be bland, particularly if you add milk and sugar.
This is where Robusta comes in; in a blend, it balances out Arabicas good flavor with more caffeine and a more intense coffee taste. Robusta complements and adds seasoning to Arabica coffee.
Pure Robusta wouldn’t be very nice to drink on its own, but a blend of 30% Robusta to 70% Arabica is a pleasant combination.
The Robusta gives espresso a thicker crema than Arabica, which may seem odd since Arabica is higher in lipids and sugars than Robusta.
In some instances, Robusta can be better than Arabica; for example, Robusta is better to use in iced coffee drinks.
Cold brewing extracts flavor and nutrients differently than a hot brew, resulting in more sweetness and less acidity.
The flavors in Robusta are easier to distinguish in a cold brew. Robusta gives these drinks a flavorsome peanut or toffee aftertaste.
Arabica may well be the superior coffee in terms of flavor and aroma, but Robusta has its place in the coffee world.
It adds caffeine and strength to a blend, and if you want energy in the morning, then Robusta is the way to go. It’s essential to read the label on a bag of beans and look for a good Arabica/Robusta. 100% Arabica isn’t always synonymous with good-quality coffee.
Acidity is a good thing to have in coffee; it enhances the flavor offering lots of complexity and aroma. Over the last twenty years, 100% Arabica coffee has become shorthand for excellent coffee.
That reputation is understandable when you consider the difficulty in growing the plant and its delicious flavor.
Many consider Robusta the inferior quality of the two, but it is a good coffee to have around.
It brings out the best qualities of pure Arabica, and it has other uses; it’s frequently used to make instant coffee, decaffeinated coffee, and iced coffees.
Robusta doesn’t deserve its negative reputation, and many people would be disappointed in their morning java if it were pure Arabica.
In the same way, not all Arabica coffee is good quality; not all Robusta is lousy coffee. With that in mind, shop around, study the coffee labels rather than making assumptions about one coffee bean over another.
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