If you are a coffee lover, you’ve probably noticed the different tastes of different coffee brands.
Have you ever stopped and thought of what type of coffee you are drinking? Do you even know that there are different types of coffee?
There are two different types of coffee beans in the world – the Arabica coffee beans and the Robusta coffee beans.
Arabica vs Robusta Coffee Varieties
These two coffee bean types are quite similar and may prove difficult to differentiate.
Nonetheless, they do have differences in terms of individual taste, physical appearance, as well as cultivation procedures and requirements.
1. Differences in the Taste
For some people, Robusta is the better tasting variety, while others feel that Arabica has the best taste. This is purely dependent on the preferences of an individual.
The Robusta coffee variety has a characteristic bitter taste caused by its high caffeine and pyrazine levels. On the other hand, Arabica has a higher concentration of sugar and is less bitter than Robusta coffee.
However, a majority of coffee consumers around the world prefer the taste in Arabica coffee, which is often considered as having a richer taste. Robusta also has its fair share of consumers in the coffee market.
2. Variations in the Physical Appearance
The coffee bean plants of the two varieties may appear similar. However, a keen eye can establish quite a few differences between the two.
For one, the Robusta coffee plant is considerably taller than its Arabica counterpart. Mature Robusta plants are between 14-20 feet in height while fully-grown Arabica plants come in between 8-15 feet high.
You can also differentiate these coffee varieties using the appearance of their beans. Robusta coffee beans have a much rounder shape than the Arabica beans which are more oval shaped.
Another difference in the coffee beans is their sizes. Arabica coffee beans have a considerably larger size than the Robusta coffee beans.
As earlier mentioned, the Robusta variety has a much bitter taste than the Arabica variety which can be attributed to its relatively higher caffeine composition. This high concentration of caffeine, and the resultant bitter taste is the coffee plant’s primary defensive mechanism that protects it from harmful pests and herbivores.
This is also closely linked with the higher levels of Chlorogenic acid in the Robusta variety (10% in Robusta versus about 5% in Arabica). Chlorogenic acid is an insect deterrent in the coffee plants.
This means that the Robusta coffee variety is a much hardier crop which is less prone to the ailments that affect other coffee plants. This makes Robusta the farmer’s favorite variety as it requires less farming input costs.
As the hardier of the two, Robusta can be cultivated in areas with far less moisture. The Arabica variety requires an altitude of between 1300 to 7000 feet to thrive, while Robusta coffee can grow in altitudes of between 650 and 2700 feet.
Unlike the Robusta variety, Arabica coffee grows well even in regions with low temperatures, but thrives in regions with average temperatures of between 590 and 750 F. But this coffee variety is quite demanding in its cultivation, as it doesn’t do well when exposed to direct sunlight and, hence, requires to be grown in well-shaded places.
On the other hand, Robusta can be grown as a mono-crop, where it is the sole plant in the farm. While this makes its farming considerably easy, its continued cultivation in a piece of land has a detrimental effect on the environment as it rids the soil of certain nutrients.
4. Origin and Native Distribution
You can also distinguish between the two types of coffee beans by their respective origins. The coffee plant, in general, is believed to have originated in Ethiopia.
The Arabica coffee was the earliest known coffee variety to be cultivated for human consumption, back in the 15th century in Yemen.
The popularity of the Arabica coffee bean soon spread throughout the Middle East – all thanks to the bustling trade among the Arabs nations at the time – and by the 1700s, Arabica coffee had become a favorite beverage in areas as far-flung as Somalia and even Turkey.
The Robusta coffee was originally cultivated all over western Africa, from Uganda to Liberia. It is also believed that the Robusta variety was cultivated for human consumption in parts of Latin America including Costa Rica, Jamaica, and Nicaragua. Ever since its discovery, the Robusta coffee has spread to other parts of the world.
Arabica vs. Robusta: Know Your Coffee
Coffee has been enjoyed for many years all around the world, and the different consumption methods are been invented each and every year.
Now that you know the different types of coffee beans. Which one do you think is in your cup?