We all have been led to believe that Arabica coffee beans are ‘supposed’ to be better than Robusta beans. Every bag of gourmet coffee beans I’ve ever purchased proudly displays that they use only 100% Arabica!
But why are they so much better?
Is it really that big of a difference?
Does anyone know?
As it turns out there really is a big difference between Robusta and Arabica coffee and if you stick with me for a bit I’ll let you in on a little secret…
Robusta beans are actually pretty good for making certain types of coffee – not all types though.
I’ll go into this in greater detail a little later but first let’s summarize their differences:
Robusta Coffee Beans are Easier to Grow & Harvest
The main reason that robusta beans are cultivated so widely is because they are hardier and produce more yield for the space the crop requires.
Robusta beans grow at lower altitudes and because the plant contains so much caffeine it is very resistant to damage from insects. It’s a hardy and reliable crop giving beans which are much cheaper to produce than the more refined and sensitive arabica beans.
Robusta beans are around 40% cheaper to buy than arabica, so the temptation for producers to include it in their blends is obvious. Taste is often compromised until an optimum between price and flavor is reached.
Robusta beans also tend to be the dominant bean used in the production of instant coffee. Instant coffee being cheaper than store-bought ground coffee is notoriously less tasty than fresh brewed coffee and it is higher in caffeine – both of these traits come from the main ingredient Robusta.
Robusta beans are bitter and contain less sugars than arabica beans, they taste nutty rather than fruity and make bitter coffee similar to what you’d find in coffee that is past it’s prime.
Arabica beans, while they can also fluctuate between fruity and bitter, are generally sweeter than Robusta coffee, with nicer flavor and tones.