Differences Between Arabica And Robusta Coffee Beans


It's time to brew yourself a delicious cup but it's also time for some coffee bean knowledge. Did you know that coffee is part of a family of flowering parts called ‘Rubiaceae’? You may have noticed that coffee bags are labeled 100% Arabica, like ours. The name refers to the type of coffee species from which the beans come from. 

There are over 100 coffee species but the two main ones that are widely produced, processed, roasted, and sold are Coffea Arabica and Coffea Canephora. Picking either Arabica or Robusta beans, is one decisions you have make when entering the world of delicious coffee. In this guide, we have provided all the information that will help you decide between these two types of coffee when you're trying to find your favorite. We have no doubt you’ll pick Arabica, winks. 


Arabica coffee comes from the Coffea Arabica plant. The name Arabica is thought to have originated when coffee traveled from Ethiopia to Arabica in the 7th-century. Arabica is the world’s most popular coffee. The popular types of Arabica coffee include Typica, Kona, Caturra, Bourbon, Pacamara, Villalobos, and lots more. 

The two most common varieties of Arabica coffee beans are Typica and Bourbon. Typica was the first variety to be discovered. It is regarded as the original coffee of the New World. It is also a low yielding variety that is valued for its excellent quality. Bourbon are often prized for their complex, yet balanced aromas and have spawned many high quality mutations.

This variety of coffee has complex acidity and brings more variety in terms of taste. Today, it makes up 60% of coffee production. The production of Arabica coffee beans is at an all-time high. 


Robusta gets its name from its hardy nature. Robusta coffee is the second most-produced coffee in the globe, making up around 40% of coffee production in the world. Robusta coffee is obtained from the Coffea Canephora plant. It originates from Africa, has low acidity and bitter taste. Coffee is less expensive than Arabica coffee as it is not difficult to look after during the cultivation process. It also highlights more resilience against unfavorable weather and diseases.  


These two terms describe two beans that are grown commercially. They are the same in the sense that they are harvested, roasted, and brewed to get a tasty cup of coffee. But that's where the similarities end. These beans are different when it comes to taste, growing environment, quality, and price. 


Some people say Robusta has an oatmeal taste. It is also known to have a woody taste. Also, they think unroasted Robusta beans smell sort of raw-peanutty.  Arabica has an extensive taste that ranges depending on its varietal. The taste difference ranges from sweet-soft to sharp-tangy. When roasted, they smell like blueberries. Most people describe their taste notes as perfumey, fruity, and sugary. 


Arabica beans inside a bowl

Arabica beans are known to have the highest lipid contents, it has about 60% of lipids. This means it has twice the concentration of sugar in Robusta. This is a well-known difference in taste between these two coffee beans. 


Arabica coffee beans are fragile and are grown in subtropical climates. They also need a lot of moisture, and sun. Because they are fragile, Arabica beans are vulnerable to attacks by pests and can be damaged by cold temperatures and poor management. This type of bean is usually grown at a higher elevation (600 -2000 meters). Robusta coffees come from a resilient plant. They are usually grown at low altitudes of 200-800 meters. Robusta is not easily affected by pests, and they produce more finished products per acre and don't require high production costs. 


When the beans have not been ground, they are different in shape. Robusta beans are round, shorter, and have a less pronounced center crease. While Arabica beans are a bit flat and elongated- they have more of an oval shape with a larger and more pronounced crease. You can easily spot the difference between these two varieties just by looking at them.  


In this area, Robusta coffee has it. It contains more antioxidants. You get about 10% chlorogenic acid. On the other hand, Arabica has about 8% of antioxidants. The difference is not enormous though. It all depends on your preference. 


Arabica is ahead in the chromosome department. It clocks in at 44, which is twice the 22 chromosomes that you find in an average Robusta. This is what most coffee drinkers enjoy so much about this coffee. 


Roubusta coffee beans in a bowl

Arabica beans have about 1-5 caffeine content, very different from the content Robusta beans have. Robusta on the other hand has about 2-7 % of caffeine. As a result of this, the taste of the two beans differs. The caffeine level makes the Robusta suitable for some people. Because Robusta has higher caffeine content, it has a bitter taste. This explains why most people don't like this variety. 


Arabica and Robusta beans have different production level per acre. Robusta produces more yield than Arabica. What this means is, if Arabica is planted in an acre, there is a chance of harvesting 2000 to 3000 kilograms of it in a year, that is after taking proper care of the plant. On the other hand, if Robusta is planted, it's possible to harvest 8000 kilograms of coffee per acre. This is because Robusta yields faster and is resistant to pests. 


Arabica beans have very high acidic content unlike that of Robusta. Although Arabica is sweeter than Robusta, its acidic content is higher. The acidic content is nothing to worry about. This is because the acids found in coffee are good. This implies that the higher the acidic levels, the better the coffee. 


In terms of price, Robusta is cheaper than Arabica and you might want to pick it, but we don't think your taste buds will thank you for making that choice. It is also not good for the environment.  Robusta farmers use mono-cropping- the practice of growing the same plant in one place every year. This process yields more space because it involves clear-cutting the forest for the plant. Since Robusta is a more resilient plant than Arabica, it is grown in more places leading to more individuals and companies purchasing vast amounts of the rainforest, clear-cutting the land, and planting the Robusta beans. When this is done excessively, mono-cropping erodes the soil and demolishes the nutrients in the soil thereby making it nearly unusable. 


Arabica beans are mostly grown at high-altitudes. It's the perfect condition for growing Arabica. Robusta does better in lowland levels but higher altitudes are known to produce high-quality plants. The height of these two varieties also differs. Arabica is not a tall breed, it usually grows between 2.5- 4.5 meters compared to the height of Robusta that is 4.5 - 6 meters. That is, Robusta is stouter and twice the size of Arabica.  After flowering, the berries can take almost a year to ripen. Robusta is self-sterile so it is cross-pollinated by bees, wind, and other insects that are necessary for the plant to reproduce. Both coffee beans are grown in Latin American countries and Africa. There are other places where these varieties are produced but on a small scale. 

So, which one is better? 

At the end of the day, it's your choice. If you had to choose between buying Arabica and Robusta beans, we advise that you always choose Arabica. Arabica coffee tastes better than a cup of Robusta. It's not as cheap as Robusta but it's worth it if you want to enjoy a delicious cup of coffee. 


Arabica is one of the tastiest varieties. The health benefits and its sweet taste have made it popular among coffee drinkers. That is, it is really pleasant while in a cup. Also, Arabica is known to have greater quality than other coffee varieties. Why would anyone not want to have a tastier cup of coffee? We must say, it is one of the sweetest varieties of the coffee family.


Since we sell some of the best-roasted coffee, then you should know that we roast only Arabica beans. Shop from our store to find your new favorite beans. Don't forget, there is so much to explore on our site, single-origin beans and coffee blends. 

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