Want To Make Coffee Like Your Favorite Coffee Shop?

Download our FREE guide to learn how to brew coffee like a barista at your favorite coffee shop. Just enter your email address to download the guide today!

We respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Get our FREE Coffee Lover Newsletter

Sign up for a free newsletter to help you brew amazing coffee at home.

We respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe at any time.
  • The Difference Between Arabica and Robusta Coffee Beans

    CLICK HERE to subscribe to our weekly emails on finding and brewing amazing coffee!

    For those of you new to the coffee world, you may have noticed that some beans boast about being 100% Arabica or even Robusta. But what exactly does that mean?

    The Difference Between Arabica and Robusta Coffee Beans

    Did you know that there are over 100 different species of coffee? Arabica and Robusta beans are just two different species of coffee, but they are the two most commonly cultivated beans for coffee consumption. But what is the difference between Arabica and Robusta coffee beans and does it really matter what kind you use in your coffee?

    Let’s take a closer look at these two means and explore what makes them different and unique in the world of coffee.

    Arabica vs Robusta: A Quick Intro

    Before we get into the breakdown of the beans, here’s some brief information on each. 

    Arabica coffee beans are more oval and flat in shape, and pack a sweeter, lighter, smoother taste. They also have more oils in the beans themselves, so they can pack more fruity, zesty, sweet flavors. Arabica beans accound for about 75% of all the coffee on the market, and are typically more expensive to purchase. 

    Robusta beans are slightly smaller and rounder in shape, and pack a stronger, bitter, powerful taste. Since they have less oils, they often have more natural, earthy, heavier flavors. They account for 25% of coffee on the market, and are often less expensive than Arabica beans. 

    Plants, Cultivation and Cost

    Now down to the nitty-gritty.

    Arabica is widely considered the most popular coffee among most drinkers, mainly because the smoother, softer, lighter taste is easier for more people to enjoy. Latin America, specifically Brazil, is currently the largest producers of Arabica coffee with Vietnam leading the way in Robusta coffee.

    These beans are more normally grown at a higher altitude, are more vulnerable to pests, and are overall more difficult to nurture and harvest. The plants, which are about 15 feet tall, also produce a lower yield. Because of this, it takes a lot more harvesting to get the required amount of coffee needed to brew.

    Robusta beans are lesser known and consumed than Arabica beans due to their more bitter taste. They are grown at a lower altitude, and are commonly grown in the Eastern hemisphere, in places like Africa, Indonesia, and Vietnam, Vietnam being the highest producer of the plants.

    It’s much easier to cultivate, and they plants themselves are also less succeptible to pests and disease. They grow about 20 feet tall, and the require less attention and care than Arabica bean plants do. Robusta plants also produce a higher yield, so they are more efficient to cultivate. 

    Death Wish Organic USDA Certified Whole Bean Coffee - 16 oz. Price: $19.99 Death Wish Organic USDA Certified Whole Bean Coffee - 16 oz. If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 09/23/2019

    Caffeine, Antioxidants and Sugars

    On top of the differences between the plants and the cultivation of these plants, each bean contains different levels of minerals and other chemical compounds.

    For example, Robusta beans contain much more caffeine than the Arabica beans. Robusta beans contain 2.7% caffeine content. Contrast that with the 1.5% caffeine content found in Arabica beans and you’ll see why Robusta, with almost double the caffeine content, is tailor-made for those who love a hearty boost of caffeine in the morning. 

    However, caffeine content isn’t the only difference. Arabica beans contain 60% more lipids and almost double the amount of natural sugars when compared to Robusta. This can definitely impact the taste of the coffee, but we will talk about that later.

    Many know that coffee in general packs many healthy antioxidants, but not many know that the amount of antioxidants vary between coffee species. For example, Robusta beans contain 7 to 10% Chlorogenic acid but Arabica beans only hav e about 5.5 to 8% CGA.

    As you can see, even the chemical make up of these coffees and what it gives us are quite different from one another.

    Cost of the Beans

    On the market, Arabica coffee beans fetch a much higher price than Robusta coffee beans. This is due to their difficulty to grow and harvest, as well as the high demand they have across the globe.

    Where the Beans Are Used

    If you start reading the fine print of most of the beans you will find in your local coffee shop, you will find that most of them are Arabica coffee. In fact, many coffee roasters boast that their beans are 100% Arabica as if it is a badge of honor.

    Though Arabica is the most popular type of bean used in coffee, that doesn’t mean Robusta beans don’t have their place in the coffee world. In many espresso beans, especially Italian roasts, you will find a mixture of both Arabica and Robusta beans. You can also find Robusta beans used in coffee that is stronger in caffeine content.

    Robusta beans are also almost exclusively used in the production of instant coffee. Since instant coffee is really only useful for a caffeine fix, and isn’t really concerned about flavor, Robusta beans are the immediate go-to. 

    De'Longhi EC155 15 BAR Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker Price: $99.95 De'Longhi EC155 15 BAR Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 09/23/2019

    Taste

    So we know that most people prefer Arabica to Robusta beans, but why is that, exactly? The reality is it all comes down to taste.

    Robusta beans, because of the increased caffeine and the lack of sugars, tend to taste stronger, bitter, and have earthy, nutty, and woody overtones. These beans are the perfect for espresso, adding a lot of kick and flavor to any cup of coffee. 

    Arabica beans tend to have a much fruitier and sweeter taste when compared to Robusta, making it more popular than Robusta beans. 

    It should also be noted that truly high-quality Robusta beans can taste every bit as good as Arabica and in some cases, many will enjoy it even more than a high-quality Arabica bean.

    While Robusta beans often earn a reputation for being lower quality than Arabica beans, that’s really not the case. They actually bring their own unique flavors to the table. While they are more suited to coffee drinkers who prefer a little extra caffeine and a much stronger taste, to say they are lower quality is far from the truth.

    Wrapping Up

    The truth is that both beans bring something unique to the coffee world and should be recognized for that. If you’re a coffee lover looking to expand your palate, then it’s worth your while to give both of these beans a chance. When taking these primary characteristics into account, the possibilities to enhance your cup of joe are endless. 

    Happy Caffeinating! 

    Recommended Reading

    Sulawesi Coffee: An Indonesian Gem
    While just about every coffee lover has hear about Java and Sumatran coffee, few know of their next-door neighbor: Sulawesi coffee. Read on for a complete guide on this unique region and coffee.
    Fair Trade vs Direct Trade Coffee: The Jargon of Sustainability
    Trying to navigate the terminology of sustainable trade can be difficult. We all want to be conscious of where our coffee is coming from, but with all the labels on everything, it can get overwhelming. In our article Fair trade vs direct trade, we explain the differences and implications of these two common terms.
    Rwanda Coffee: World’s Most Under-Appreciated Coffee?
    Despite being one of the top 30 coffee producing countries in the world, you tend to hear very little about Rwanda coffee. But the specialty coffee scene is seriously sleeping on this region's coffee. Read on to find out why.
    Peaberry Coffee: Magical or Mythical?
    Fanatics claim that it's basically the the key to a coffee induced transcendence. Nay-sayers claim it is just a marketing ploy for companies to get more money. Read on to find the truth behind the Peaberry Coffee debate.
    Sumatra Coffee: Does it Deserve the Fame?
    If you've been roaming around through premium coffee lately, you've probably come across some mention of Sumatra Coffee. Whether you're here to learn more about how it tastes, how it's make, what brand to buy, or what exactly Kopi Luwak is, we have you covered in this guide. 
    Best Coffee For AeroPress: Getting the Most from Your Brew
    As one of the most versatile manual brewing methods out there, AeroPress is really geared towards giving you a cup of java that perfectly suits your tastes. Read our guide on the best coffee for AeroPress for some of our top recommendations and some tips for you to get the most out of this unique brewing tool.
    Roasty Coffee

    Learn to Make Barista-Level Coffee From The Comfort of Your Home

    The Home Barista Coffee Course 14-lesson video course about brewing consistently amazing coffee at home. Stream or download the entire course to learn how to make coffee as good as your local barista for a fraction of the cost.

    Click Here To Learn More