Arabica vs Robusta Coffee- What’s the Difference?

In this Arabica vs Robusta coffee article, we are going to talk about the difference between the two types. Get inside and learn more!

So, if you’ve been asking yourself “Is Arabica really better than Robusta?” This article answers your question today.

Let’s get started.

In the coffee world, there is one coffee bean type you probably have heard (or even tasted) that is considered the best. Coffee lovers don’t just swear by its amazing quality, they love it for being sweet, light, and fruity. The coffee bean is 100% Arabica.

And there’s Robusta coffee- the second most type of coffee with a taste of burnt rubber according to coffee enthusiast. However, even though it’s said to taste bitter and acidic, some people still hate it and love it in equal measures.

So, you wonder which type of coffee to buy for your next brewing.

Well, in this Arabica vs Robusta coffee article, we are going to take a look at both types of coffee beans then you will decide which one is better than the other.

What’s the best type of coffee between Arabica and Robusta is sometimes a matter of preference.

While other people will love arabica coffee for its taste, other coffee drinkers will love robusta coffee for it is bitter.

What is Arabica Coffee?

Arabica vs Robusta coffee: Arabica coffee beans on a container

Arabica coffee is a type of coffee brewed from the beans of the Coffea arabica plant. It was the first type of coffee to be produced in the southwestern highlands of Ethiopia and is currently the most popular around the world with a production of up to 60%.

Arabica coffee is said to taste like chocolate and caramel. It is sweet, lighter, and fruitier.

Where did the Name Arabica Come From?

Ideally, Arabica coffee was first produced in Ethiopia. In the 7th century, the beans were also distributed to lower Arabia.

The Oromo tribe in Ethiopia used to crush and mix the beans with fat to consume it as a stimulant.

It is in Arabia where coffee was made as a beverage for the first time by Arab scholars who were working for longer hours. That’s when coffee started spreading to other countries worldwide.

So, the reason why it is called Arabica or Arabian coffee is that it was first brewed in Arabia.

The Taste of Arabica Coffee

100% arabica coffee has a sweet flavor and tastes like chocolate, nuts, and caramel. It is also characterized by some hints of fruit and berries.

Similar to robusta coffee, arabica coffee is slightly acidity and a little bitter. When cold-brewed, arabica produces sweeter flavors.

Note that the roast you choose can make or break the flavor. The environments the beans are planted can also affect the flavors.

It is also advised to store the beans properly to keep them fresh and nice to preserve the sweet flavors.

If you’ve ever bought coffee beans at the local grocery store or coffee shop (or if you have ever drunk coffee at your local café) then probably they were arabica.

You will notice that some coffee types will taste sweet and slightly bitter at the same time, especially espresso coffee. This is because coffee brands mix the two types of coffee beans.

If you are just learning how to make coffee at home, it is best to purchase arabica for the best results.

How and where is Arabica Coffee Grown?

As mentioned earlier, arabica coffee is produced from the Coffea arabica plant which doesn’t flourish in harsh climates. The plant grows well in humid areas but cannot withstand frost.

Arabica coffee does well in temperatures of 15 and 24 degrees Celsius, especially in the shade and at elevations of approximately 1,900 and above sea level (above 600 meters).

Arabica coffee takes around 6 years to mature completely and can reach up to 9 to 12 meters long although, for commercial purposes, it can grow up to 5 meters tall. To make harvesting simpler, coffee farmers prefer to let it grow about 2 meters tall though.

Its flowers are small and white with a sweet and pretty smell.

The coffee beans are housed in the berries and are usually two in each berry. The berries are harvested when they turn red or dark-purple.

Similar to blueberries, the berries do not ripe all at once and that’s why in most cases, they are harvested by hand.

Fruits harvested before maturity produces poor quality coffee.

Read our article about how coffee is made from bean to cup to learn more.

Today, high-quality arabica coffee in Brazil, Ethiopia, Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and other countries in East Africa, Central, and South America.

Brazil produces large quantities of arabica coffee than all the other countries where the coffee is grown.

Arabica vs Robusta Coffee: What Makes Arabica Different?

With that being said, here are the factors that make arabica coffee different from its immediate rivalry- robusta coffee.

Less caffeine

Arabica coffee has less caffeine content (around 1.5%) while robusta contains more (around 2.7%).

If you are concerned about the adverse side effects of too much caffeine, then arabica coffee would be your best coffee.

The caffeine content in robusta coffee gives it a bitter flavor.

More sugar

Arabica coffee contains double the sugar content in robusta coffee. That’s why the former has sweet flavors while the latter is bitter. You can see why most people who have stomach problems prefer Arabica coffee than robusta.

More lipids

Arabica contains more lipids- oils, certain vitamins, etc. (around 60% than robusta.

It’s more popular worldwide

Arabica coffee is more popular than robusta coffee taking 60 to 75% of the world coffee production whereas robusta takes 405 or less.

Flavorful

Arabica coffee contains rich flavors with hints of chocolate, nuts and is fruitier. Robusta coffee is bitter and has a rubbery or earthy flavor.

Costly

Arabica coffee is more sensitive to the environment and that’s why it requires a great degree of care. It also has better taste and that’s why it’s the most preferred by many coffee lovers all over the world. All these and many other factors make arabica coffee more expensive than robusta.

Arabica coffee cannot stand harsh climate Frost

Arabica grows in temperature between 15 and 24 degrees Celsius while Robusta flourishes in higher temperature between 18 to 36 degrees Celsius. Robusta can also withstand harsh climates.

Arabica also grows well in a humid environment whereas Robusta prefers direct sunlight.

The shape and color

Arabica beans are a bit larger and oval while Robusta is small and round.

When raw, the arabica bean is lighter.

The smell

Arabica beans smell much like blueberries before roasting while robusta beans smell like peanuts.

Benefits of Arabica Coffee

Some of the benefits of Arabica coffee are:

  • Caffeine content can increase your alertness and concentration.
  •  Rich antioxidants.
  • Lower calorie content.
  • Keeps you hydrated
  • It is believed to nourish and smoothen the skin when used in skincare products.

Now that you know all (or a few things) about Arabica coffee, let’s take a look at Robusta coffee before you decide which one is best for you.

Robusta vs Arabica Coffee

Know what Robusta coffee is and how it differs from Arabica. Robusta coffee is the second most known type of coffee in the world. That’s why we must talk about it.

What is Robusta Coffee?

Robusta vs Arabica: What's the difference

Robusta coffee is a type of coffee obtained from the beans of the Coffea canephora plant. This type of coffee originates from Central and Western Africa and makes 40% of the coffee production globally.

Usually, Robusta coffee is used to brew espresso shots and instant coffee due to the huge caffeine content it packs.

Robusta Coffee Origin

Robusta coffee comes from Central, Western Africa, and Indonesia but it is largely produced in Vietnam.

The Taste of Robusta Coffee

Robusta coffee has an earthly and rubbery taste and is usually bitter. This is because of the large caffeine content and less sugar it contains.

The Robusta Coffee Plant

The robusta coffee plant is a little stronger than Arabica. It can tolerate hot temperatures of up to 30+ degrees Celsius and direct sunlight. That’s why it requires more water to keep growing stronger.

The robusta coffee plant can also resist insects and disease at flourishes at low altitudes around 600 meters above sea level.

When grown for commercial use, Robusta coffee is pruned to a height of around 5 meters to make harvesting easier.

The fruits of the robusta coffee take around 8 months to mature and are deep red when ripe.

Similar to Arabica coffee fruits, the Robusta fruits don’t mature all at once. A ripe berry or cherry contains two arabica coffee beans.

Where is Robusta Cofee Produced?

As mentioned above robusta is grown in Central and Western Africa, although Vietnam is the largest producer.

Robusta coffee is grown in the following countries: Vietnam, Brazil, Indonesia, Thailand, Uganda, Guatemala, Uganda, India, Cameroon, Philippines, Malaysia, Guinea, and Madagascar.

Some of these countries produce a mixture of robusta and arabica coffee though. You will always see the county of origin on the coffee bag.

What Makes Robusta Coffee Different?

Similar to Arabica coffee, Robusta has notable differences.

Here are the qualities that make robusta different from arabica coffee.

Matures faster

While Arabica takes around 4 years to produce fruits, Robusta takes half that age to mature.

Rich in caffeine

Robusta coffee has double the caffeine content in Arabica.

Taste

Robusta coffee is more bitten due to the higher caffeine it contains. It also produces higher chlorogenic acid content (around 10%) which adds a bitter flavor. Arabica coffee produces around 7% chlorogenic acid content.

Robusta has half the sugar content in arabica.

Generally, Robusta is said to have an earthy, harsh, and grainy taste with hints of rubber or burnt wood.

Strength

The Robusta plant is stronger and can tolerate higher temperatures. It also grows well under direct sunlight.

The plant can also resist pest and disease than arabica.

Less costly

Robusta is stronger, takes a short period to produce fruits, and produces more than arabica. It doesn’t require too much care. Besides, robusta coffee isn’t flavorful like arabica that’s why it has a lower demand hence less costly to buy.

Bean shape and color

The beans are smaller, thicker, round and are darker when not roasted.

Large leaves.

The robusta coffee plant produces larger leaves than those of the Arabica plant.

The bottom line…

Having read about robusta, do you think it’s the best coffee for you?

Other people prefer Arabica coffee over Robusta due to its earthy and smoky flavor while others prefer the acidity and bitter taste it produces.

Just be sure that the content of Robusta coffee won’t cause problems on your stomach before taking this drink.

Why is Robusta Hated and Loved in Equal Measures?

Ideally, we say that robusta coffee is bad for you as the best coffee type depends on one’s preferences.

However, robusta coffee has and still has a bad reputation.

Here is the naked truth.

Arabica coffee can be used for different commercial purposes. On the other hand, Robusta belongs to the low-end category of the market.

It sells at half the price of Arabica coffee and is used to brew instant or cheap coffee.

Some countries blend it with Arabica.

Arabica vs Robusta Coffee: FAQs

Is Starbucks Coffee arabica or robusta?

Starbucks uses 100% Arabica beans to brew coffee. Arabica coffee makes around 70% of the exported coffee to the US.

Which is healthier Robusta or Arabica?

As seen above, the Robusta plant is stronger, can grow in harsh climates and withstand pests and disease because of the higher caffeine and chlorogenic acid content. However, the caffeine content makes it unsuitable for coffee lovers with stomach problems. So Arabica coffee is healthier than Robusta.

What are the types of coffee beans?

Typically, there are four types of coffee beans namely Arabica, Robusta, Liberica, and Excelsa coffee beans, although the last two aren’t popular.

Is Arabica coffee the best?

Even though the best type of coffee is a matter of preferences, Arabica coffee is voted the best because of the plenty of benefits it offers. 

Which is Costly: Arabica or Robusta?

When it comes to cost, Arabic beats Robusta, hands down. First Arabica requires too much care and is sensitive to the environment. Secondly, Arabica tastes better than Robusta that’s why it’s more costly.

What’s the Caffeine Content Like: Arabica vs Robusta

Arabica coffee beans contain around 83% more caffeine than Arabica beans.

On average, Robusta beans have 2.2% caffeine while Arabica beans have 1.2% caffeine.

Arabica vs Robusta Coffee: Which Is Better?

If we consider the popularity factor alone, Arabica coffee beats Robusta coffee. And even if we go deeper on the taste, flavors, and many other factors, Arabica coffee still wins over Robusta.

If you base your argument on caffeine content, then Robusta wins

Well, some researchers have found out that very-high quality robusta coffee can be good but this is something to be debated on.

Overall, our Arabica vs Robusta Coffee article is meant to show you both sides of the coin but the best type for you depends on your preferences.

Let us know what type of coffee you prefer in the comment section.

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Sophia Green
Sophia is a long time coffee enthusiast and blogger, so the project started naturally five years ago. You can find useful information about coffee types, plantations, equipment and even tips and tricks or fun facts.

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