Differences between Arabica and Robusta

Hundreds of thousands of people rack their brains daily when choosing coffee: Arabica or Robusta? They just want their cup to be delicious and don’t know what to choose.

On the one hand, advertising on TV talks about 100% Arabica and some kind of ground in soluble, on the other hand, baristas in coffee shops say that Robusta is good coffee, and it is present in the blends they work on. This makes a choice more complicated, and in this article, we will compare the difference between Arabica and Robusta, which should help in choosing.

What is Arabica and Robusta

 Arabica and Robusta are evergreen coffee trees belonging to the madder family’s coffee genus. The trees grow in equatorial climates, mainly in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America. Arabica was born due to the natural crossing of two types of coffee: Eugenioides and Robusta. Yes, Robusta is the parent of Arabica. The details of their relationship, who appeared, how and where, can be found in our blog about Arabica and Robusta, and we will move on to the article’s essence.


Differences between Arabica and Robusta

 Arabica is very different from Robusta, starting with the coffee tree’s growing conditions and ending with the final product’s taste. Below we have compiled a comparison of the main characteristics of Arabica and Robusta.


Producer countries

 The Arabica variety is produced in India, Indonesia, Guatemala, Brazil and Mexico. Robusta is also grown in Brazil, Indonesia and India, but it can also be found in Central Africa. If we consider the market share, Arabica is clearly in the lead here: its share in the world market is 75%, and Robusta – is only 25%.


Basic historical facts

  1. Place of discovery: The first mention of Arabica was in Ethiopia, about Robusta in Uganda.
  2. Places of growth: Arabica is cultivated in America, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Oceania. Robusta is commercially grown mainly in Asia and Africa.
  3. Leader in production: The leader in the production of Arabica is Brazil, and Robusta is Vietnam.
  4. Share in world production: 70% of the world volume belongs to Arabica, 30% to Robusta.
  5. Characteristics of the coffee tree
  6. Tree height: Arabica can grow up to 10 meters, and Robusta up to 15 meters.
  7. Altitude: Arabica grows from 900 to 2500 meters above sea level, and Robusta grows lower, from 200 to 900 meters.
  8. Resistance to parasites and diseases: Arabica is less resistant to diseases. On the contrary, Robusta has a high resistance to parasites and diseases.


Price of grains

 For the price of both varieties, it is difficult to give an unambiguous answer. Most often, Arabica is twice as expensive as Robusta. The cost depends on the effort spent growing a particular variety and the taste of the resulting coffee. Arabica requires more attentive care, but at the same time, it has a higher taste. Robusta usually costs less: it is unpretentious to grow, but its taste is much more challenging. However, you should not define a coffee variety based on its value: sometimes sellers can set the price for Robusta more than for Arabica because the quality of the crop turned out to be much higher. Raw materials and their quality can significantly affect the final cost of coffee.


Characteristics of the coffee bean

  1. Bean shape: Arabica is more oblong, and Robusta is more rounded.
  2. Caffeine content: Arabica coffee is half as much caffeine 1-1.5% as Robusta 2-3%.
  3. The content of essential oils: In Robusta, there are two times fewer essential oils, 8%, than in Arabica, 18%.
  4. Sugar content: Robusta has half as much sugar 5% as Arabica, 8%


Taste and aroma

These two varieties have completely different taste characteristics. Arabica is considered a softer drink, which is almost not bitter. Robusta is much rougher than its counterpart, but in some varieties, you can feel other notes of taste.


Sweet notes, in principle, are not characteristic of any type of coffee. Only some varieties can contain such notes: Indian Robusta (you can feel the nuts-chocolate flavour), Yemeni Arabica (chocolate flavour), etc.


Sourness is characteristic of the Arabica variety since Robusta practically does not carry such a shade, with the exception of the Indian version. Wine sourness can be felt in the Mayor variety, and the berry aftertaste is typical for Guatemalan Arabica.


Arabica is practically not bitter – this property is more typical for Robusta. This type of coffee is generally tougher in taste. There are also small exceptions in this case: you can feel a slight bitterness in the Zambavian Arabica.


Size and appearance

The appearance of Robusta and Arabica is also very different from each other. However, if you know their main distinguishing features, then it will not be difficult to determine what exactly is in front of you.

  1. Arabica has oval-shaped beans, the size of which is about 7-8 mm. After the grains are roasted, they get a uniform brown colour.
  2. Robusta grains are more rounded and smaller in shape – their size is no more than 6 mm. After roasting, a large number of brown shades appear on the grains, so even after processing, it will not be difficult to distinguish between these two varieties.


Popular varieties

Speaking correctly, Arabica is not a type of coffee but a type of coffee plant. Therefore, it is divided into a large number of varieties: Typica, Bali, Bourbon, Katura, Alamosa, Shinzan, etc. Each version of this coffee has its own specific features and aroma. Arabica is a classic type of coffee, which is why there are so many varieties based on it. Robusta cannot boast of such wide varieties: this includes Kuilou, Ambri and Conillon du Brasil.


Scope and purpose of application

  1. In espresso coffee blends: Arabica is added for acidity, sweetness and aroma. Robusta for bitterness, density, strength and creams.
  2. In single varieties of coffee: Arabica is suitable for those who like more acidic and aromatic coffee. Robusta for those who love it stronger and appreciate the bitter taste.
  3. In instant coffee: Mostly the cheapest low-quality coffee and Arabica and Robusta are used.
  4. In flavoured coffee: Often, the cheapest coffee is used, but sometimes the more expensive positions are flavoured, both Arabica and Robusta.


Arabica is better for you if:

  • the natural sweetness is important,
  • you appreciate rich flavours,
  • you have nothing against sourness,
  • you don’t need a lot of caffeine,
  • you make coffee in a cezve, french press or using the “funnel” method,
  • the presence of an expressive foam (cream) is not important for you,
  • you are willing to pay more.
Raw Beans of Arabica
Raw Beans of Arabica

Robusta is best for you if:

  • in any case, you put sugar or syrup in your coffee,
  • not particularly distinguish subtle shades in taste,
  • don’t like sour coffee
  • you need a good dose of caffeine to improve performance,
  • you make coffee in a coffee machine,
  • you like thick beautiful cream,
  • you have no desire to overpay.


Why is Robusta considered worse than Arabica?

Among coffee lovers, you can often hear the opinion that Robusta is much worse than Arabica, which means that it is almost impossible to drink it. In fact, the reasons for this stereotype are several factors:

  1. Robusta cannot offer the same variety of flavours and varieties as Arabica does;
  2. Huge difference in price: Arabica usually costs twice as much as Robusta;
  3. Conditions for growing varieties: usually, they do not spend a lot of time and effort on Robusta, so the quality of coffee can be much lower than that of Arabica.


Which is better, Arabica or Robusta?

Only one person can answer this question; you will find it in the mirror. After all, the taste is very subjective; everyone has their own. For one, green apples will be sour, but for the other, on the contrary, that’s it. Therefore, you can only get to the bottom of your truth through trial and error. The only thing is to choose a good supplier, not a store-bought coffee, but a company that roasts itself and knows what is inside its pack, talks about coffee and helps with the choice. It is important.


If Arabica tastes better, why do we need Robusta?

Arabica and Robusta have their own tasks and their fans. There is no consensus on which is better or worse. Someone thinks that Robusta should not be used at all. And someone conducts entire research to pick up a variety of Robusta, which, together with Arabica, will open up new tastes.

 Robusta gives good espresso crema, body and body. But in the taste, there is an unpleasant bitterness and a heavy aroma. This does not mean that nothing good can be made from Robusta.

 Classic Italian coffee is almost always a deep-roasted blend of Arabica and Robusta. Such mixtures are cheaper than pure Arabica and give the coffee a characteristic bitterness. In a cappuccino, interesting notes of chocolate appear from such a mixture, and some people like this coffee more.

 It is important to remember one rule: you can always find something good in coffee that has been carefully looked after. Because bad coffee is not Arabica or Robusta. Bad coffee is coffee that is not taken care of.


What to choose, Arabica or Robusta

Choice of Arabica and Robusta. As we said earlier, delicious coffee is different for everyone, but we can only give a couple of recommendations in navigation when choosing your ideal cup:

All the recommendations given below are valid, provided that the coffee is not heavily roasted, because if it is, then it doesn’t matter; Arabica, Robusta, everything will be in the same way: ashy and very bitter.

If you like a more acidic coffee with a bright aroma, then try Arabica. Moreover, Arabica is also different, African will sour more than, for example, Asia. As a rule, all roasters have the characteristics of each variety; see them; this will help with the choice. Here, for example, our range of Arabica.

  1. If you like stronger coffee so that bitterness dominates the taste, then try Robusta. Robusta is good coffee, it’s popular and inexpensive, and those who “sling mud at it” are just showing vanity. We roast only one variety of this coffee – Uganda Robusta.
  2. If you’ve read both of the previous points and think you need something in between, then take a closer look at espresso blends. Moreover, choose the one where the ratio of Arabica and Robusta seems optimal to you. We blend seven espresso blends with different percentages that can cover the gastronomic needs of 99% of coffee lovers. At least, we think so)
  3. If you carefully read this article, and not through the line diagonally, then you are more likely to know which coffee to choose.


One thought on “Differences between Arabica and Robusta

  • November 4, 2022 at 10:30 am

    Wow interesting


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