WHAT IS ROBUSTA COFFEE?
Today, it is estimated that there are over 120 different species of coffee plants grown in the world. However, only two main types are grown commercially and on a large-scale - Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora.
The Coffea canephora (or Robusta plant) was first discovered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the late-19th century and produces the world’s second most popular coffee bean - Robusta. Last year around 77.1 million 60 kg bags of Robusta beans were produced globally.
This much-loved bean owes its popularity to the sturdy nature of the Coffea canephora. Unlike Arabica plants, (which produce Arabica coffee) the Coffea canephora grows at lower altitudes, in higher temperatures and is more resistant to the problem of disease, rot or fruit-ruining pests, making it a more convenient variety for many farmers.
WHICH COUNTRIES GROW ROBUSTA BEANS?
As Robusta is easier and cheaper to produce, you’ll find this type of coffee grown all around the globe. The world’s largest producer is Vietnam. Vietnam produces around 29,175 60kg bags of Robusta as green coffee beans each year. Following Vietnam for Robusta production is Brazil, Indonesia, Uganda and Angola.
Our Robusta coffees are expertly sourced from Angola, where Robusta coffee has been produced for centuries. Angola renowned for being one of the best producers of high-quality coffee, and many of its farmers and brands have earned excellent reputations for the quality and the flavours they bring to the market.
WHAT ARE THE TYPICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF ROBUSTA COFFEE BEANS?
When it comes to the taste of Robusta coffee, beans are typically described as intense with robust, woody flavours. Containing minimal acidity, a cup of Robusta makes for a perfect espresso and is a firm favourite on the Italian espresso scene.
Robusta can be enjoyed on its own and due to its strong flavours, it's also a popular choice for instant coffee mixes or coffee blends, balancing acidity levels and enhancing the softer and more subtle flavours of Arabica beans. More about that in our next blog on coffees available from Espressopedia.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ARABICA AND ROBUSTA COFFEE BEANS?
One of the most common questions we get asked at Espressopedia is about Robusta beans and ‘How do they differ from your Arabica coffees?’
The two coffees come from two different plants which require varying growing and weather conditions. Another one of the major differences between these two bean types is that Robusta is easier to tend on the farm, has a higher yield and is less sensitive to insects (the extra caffeine acts as a chemical defence as it is toxic to bugs!). A coffee of this type is often sold at lower prices than an Arabica variety. However, the higher prices of Arabica varieties doesn’t always indicate superior quality, and there are examples of both varieties at a range of prices with an exceptional flavour profile.
Perhaps the most crucial difference to coffee drinkers is the difference in the taste of Arabica vs Robusta beans. While there are exceptions in each category, a coffee of the Arabica variety will most likely have high acidity with a sweet, smooth and fruity flavour. In contrast, Robusta coffees produce an intense cup with low acidity and woody notes.
Although ‘strong coffee’ has a variety of interpretations and meanings, Robusta coffees are usually described as stronger than Arabica in relation to flavour profiles and caffeine content. In fact, these beans have around twice as much caffeine (2.7% vs 1.5%) as Arabica beans, making them the perfect pick for those who love a short, fierce caffeine hit
So now it’s over to you to try one of our super strong ristrettos from Espressopedia.