Arabica vs. Robusta
Arabica and Robusta beans account for the majority of coffee production in the world. The Coffee Research Institute reports that Coffea arabica, known as Arabica coffee, accounts for 75-80 percent of the world's production. Coffea canephora, known as Robusta coffee, accounts for about 20 percent of production. Let's explore how the beans, plants and farming methods differ.
Arabica coffee beans are used to brew coffees with a wide array of flavor profiles. In general, the flavor of Arabica beans is lighter and more complex so they are the species of choice for most specialty coffees. The plants are more delicate and flourish in rich, moist soil from 900 to 2000 meters or 3,000 to 6,500 feet. Mountain grown coffee may be shade grown, indicating that it is grown under a canopy of tropical trees. Due to the terrain and the delicate beans, picking the ripe beans may be done by hand.
Robusta coffee beans contain more caffeine, have a fuller-bodied harsh or neutral taste and are primarily used for commercial coffee blends, instant coffee and for some espresso blends. These hardy plants are less susceptible to damage from threats like disease, pests, temperature variation and rough handling. Robusta beans can be grown at lower elevations (below 3,000 feet) and may be harvested mechanically. As a result, farmers generally get higher yield per acre and these beans have a lower price per kilo.
Some of the most popular commercial coffee blends combine Robusta and Arabica beans to produce an economic and tasty cup of coffee. The advent of specialty coffee and the popularity of gourmet coffee has attracted consumers to higher quality brews and increased the demand for premium Arabica beans. No matter your level of coffee know-how, the expansion of specialty coffee has made it easier to explore a variety of great beans at your local coffee or specialty store.
Learn more about Coffee:
International Coffee Organization or CoffeeResearch.org