Believe it or not, coffee is a multifaceted beverage that gives your palate access to many sensations and flavours. The differences between arabica and robusta coffee allow consumers to favour one variety over the other. Here are some of the differences between these types of coffee.
One of the differences between robusta and arabica coffee is the place of origin, where they come from or where they are produced on a large scale. Firstly, arabica coffee originates from Ethiopia, but it is mostly cultivated in Latin countries such as Colombia and Brazil. This is due to the geographical relief of these countries, as Arabica coffee is grown between 600 and 2,500 metres above sea level.
Generally, the temperature in these areas varies between 12 and 24 degrees Celsius. Secondly, robusta coffee comes from West Africa but is now grown in Southeast Asia. Vietnam is nowadays the main producer in this region, as its relief has grasslands and plains that are ideal for cultivation at no more than 700 metres above sea level.
2. Shape of the bean
When looking at coffee beans, they may all look very similar to the naked eye. However, another difference between robusta and arabica coffee is their appearance. Arabica beans are flattened, long and slightly larger.
Likewise, they have a distinctive stripe in the middle of their body that is curved and the colour of the bean before roasting is light green. On the other hand, Robusta coffee beans are slightly thicker, circular and smaller than Arabica beans. They also have a distinctive line, but in their case, it is straighter, and the colour of the bean is pale green before roasting.
3. Caffeine content
Another difference between arabica and robusta coffee lies in the amount of caffeine each variety contains. On the one hand, robusta coffee has a caffeine content of between 1.7% and 3.5%. For this reason, it is common for tasters to classify this type of coffee as strong and rough because of its high caffeine content.
In contrast, arabica coffee is distinguished by a caffeine content between 0.7% and 1.5%. As a result, this type of coffee is the most widely consumed coffee in the world. Interestingly, the caffeine content of robusta coffee results in higher resistance to pests that affect coffee cultivation.
Taking into account the above difference, the caffeine percentage of each variety changes the taste of the beverage. Therefore, one of the differences between robusta and arabica coffee is that robusta coffee gives a stronger or bitterer beverage. Generally, it offers a rough or dry sensation.
Arabica coffee, on the other hand, allows you to enjoy a more delicate beverage with a wide variety of notes or flavours. These include the aroma of flowers, citrus fruits and flavours of caramel or chocolate. Although this variety is more widely consumed, robusta coffee is also beginning to make inroads among coffee tasters and the average person who prefers its stronger flavour.
The way coffee is ground makes another difference between the two coffee varieties mentioned above. In a hypothetical case, if you wanted to make a cup of Italian-style espresso with arabica coffee and another with robusta coffee, the difference between the two cups would be the grind of the presentation. The robusta coffee would most likely be finer, as robusta beans are harder than arabica beans.
With the robusta cup, you would have a fuller-bodied beverage, a thicker crema and a stronger, more bitter taste. In the case of the arabica cup, the flavour will be sweeter, although it may have some bitter notes. In conclusion, the arabica variety is more commercialised for its aroma and flavour.
As you can appreciate, the two types of coffee present several differences in their physical constitution and components. Their flavours, consistency and market value are some of the best-known differences. However, the intrinsic characteristics of each type of bean are still not well known to many people, which is why one variety is more valued than the other.