Arabica and Robusta


Arabica and Robusta

Arabica and Robusta are the two main species of coffee grown in the world. Arabica is the most popular variety and  will generally give you a superior flavour but this is not to say all Robustas are bad. It is possible to find an excellent cup of espresso that is 100% Robusta. Over 70% of the coffee grown in the world is Arabica and whilst the best beans are considered to be Arabica varieties, Arabica does not always ensure quality.

The aim of this article is to give you a little insight into the main differences between these two beans. Like how with Whisky you have blends that incorporate different vintages, the majority of blends you will find in coffee shops and supermarkets are in fact a mix of the two bean varieties (40 percent Robusta, 60 percent Arabica). However, a lot of coffee roasters advertise that their products are 100% Arabica – giving a sign of quality and a way to distinguish from the mass producers.
N.B. Coffee beans are actually the seeds of the cherries formed on coffee plants.

Arabica plants are more delicate than their Robusta counterparts. They are more susceptible to disease, pests and low temperatures in the colder months. The conditions Arabica plants are grown in are different to Robusta. One of the key factors is the higher altitude – you can grow Arabica coffee in altitudes ranging from 600 to 2000 metres.

In terms of flavour, Arabica is mild, well balanced and boasts a wide taste range. The caffeine content is typically between 0.8% and 1.4%. The price of Arabica is higher than Robusta and the main producer is Brazil.


Robusta plants are hardier than their Arabica rivals. They are less vulnerable to disease, pests, cold spells and rough handling. They grow at much lower altitudes, typically anywhere between 200 to 800 metres.

Robusta beans give a much stronger, bitter flavour. The caffeine content is roughly double Arabica’s, usually anywhere between 1.7% and 4.0%. The price of Robusta is less than Arabica and cultivators can attain yield at a lower cost of production. Instant is almost exclusively Robusta and Vietnam is the main producer of Robusta coffee.

Arabica and Robusta are very different beans and while Arabica is more versatile and gives a more complex flavour, it is important not to rule out all Robusta varieties. Respect the bean!

Arabica and Robusta

2 Responses

  1. Jay

    12/18/2012, 11:17 am

    I need some advice, I want to start a coffee business but I need to know how to roast coffee first . And how do I get the market to supply the coffee beans ?its arabica and Robuster I will be involved in.


    • Henry

      12/18/2012, 04:40 pm

      Hi Jay,

      That’s great you’re also passionate about coffee! Roasting coffee is a very complicated skill and if you would like to set up a roastery but lack the experience, I would suggest either applying to work at a roastery so that you can gain experience, or alternatively, hiring someone who has worked in one for a number of years and can roast your coffee for you. Roasting coffee is not something you can just stroll into (it could be but you wouldn’t be making good quality coffee for a while).

      As for your second question, I can’t help you out there!




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