The differences between Arabica and Robusta

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In the past I have already talked about the differences between Arabica and Robusta, but in a more subjective and gustatory sense. My goal was precisely to clarify their taste profile to help you understand which quality of coffee is best suited to your tastes. You can read the article CLICKING HERE >>

Today, however, I would like to be more direct and simply give you all possible information on the differences between Arabica and Robusta in a more objective and informative sense.

As you will have learned by now, the coffee plant, like any other plant, just think about how many types of tomatoes exist, it has different species: Arabica, Canephora, Liberica and Excelsa.

For convenience, however, we divide the world of coffee into only 2 families, that is the only ones marketed: Arabica and Canephora also commonly called Robusta.

It is also important to specify that in turn these two botanical species are divided into further hundreds of variants that are very different in taste, aroma and yield in the cup, in terms of creaminess and body.

But let's get to us.

The main differences to highlight between Arabica and Robusta are:

  1. Altitude of crops
  2. Shape of the beans
  3. Number of chromosomes
  4. Caffeine content
  5. Sugar and oil content
  6. Taste and yield in the cup

1. ALTITUDE OF CULTIVATIONS 

Arabica grows over 700 meters in height and up to 2000-2400 meters, while Robusta grows above sea level, always remaining below 900 meters.

Cultivation in more rocky and sloping soils undoubtedly makes Arabica more difficult to grow and consequently generally makes it more expensive than Robusta coffee (canephora).

I recommend that you try our two most different coffees and immediately experience firsthand:

  • Sidamo Etiope - a fresh, fruity, citrus and floral single-origin Arabica, delicate and pushed towards a pleasant and soft acidity CLICK HERE >>
  • Stretto - a robust, full-bodied and creamy blend, with persistent bitterness and rich in caffeine CLICK HERE >>

 

2. SHAPE OF THE BEAN 

As you can see from the photo, the Robusta bean, the one on the right, is smaller and rounder and the central cut is straight.

On the contrary, the Arabica bean, therefore the one on the left, is larger and elongated, with a more sinuous and wavy central groove.

 You can therefore independently check whether your coffee bean packet contains an Arabica or Robusta coffee or even a blend of both.

 

 

3. NUMBER OF CHROMOSOMES 

Arabica has 44 chromosomes, while Robusta has exactly half of them, that is 22.

This means that Arabica beans will have a more complex aromatic profile, with greater fragrances, than the beans of the Robusta species.

 

 

4. CONTENT OF CAFFEINE 

In this case the limelight situation: Robusta has about double or even triple the caffeine compared to Arabica quality coffees.

In fact, we find a concentration of between 0.8% and 1.5% of caffeine in Arabica beans. While the Robusta quality beans have between 1.7% and 3.5% caffeine.

Remember that pure caffeine is very bitter.

Caffeine also makes Robusta plants more "robust", strong, as it is precisely it that protects the plant from attacks by parasites, insects or diseases. On the contrary, the Arabica plant is therefore more delicate, difficult to cultivate and more prone to diseases or infestations.

 

I recommend that you try our two most different coffees and immediately experience firsthand:

  • Sidamo Etiope - a fresh, fruity, citrus and floral single-origin Arabica, delicate and pushed towards a pleasant and soft acidity CLICK HERE >>
  • Stretto - a robust, full-bodied and creamy blend, with persistent bitterness and rich in caffeine CLICK HERE >>

 

 

5. CONTENT OF SUGARS AND OILS

And the situation is reversed again, as it is again the Arabica quality that wins over the concentration of oils. In fact, it contains about 18%, double that of Robusta, which usually stops at around 9%.

This depends both on the species, but also on the altitude of the plantation. As you go up in altitude, the beans become denser and the soil richer in mineral salts, this translates into a greater concentration of aromatic oils in the beans.

Same thing for sugars, mostly present in Arabica beans, at 8%, while Robusta has an average of 5%.

 

6. TASTE AND YIELD IN THE CUP  

Summing up, all the characteristics listed above translate directly into the taste of the extracted coffee. 

In fact, as we have seen, Arabica grows at higher altitudes, in a more rocky soil and therefore rich in mineral salts, with less caffeine and a denser grain, containing more sugars and minerals, with double the chromosomes.

This makes the coffees extracted from Arabica beans more fragrant, the taste is more complex, intensely aromatic and releases sweeter, delicate and fresh notes, which are highlighted from time to time in flowers, ripe fruit, red fruits, citrus fruits, chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, caramel, honey and many more.

Finally, the coffee will have a more intense acidity and a softer body.

On the contrary, a coffee extracted from a single origin Robusta will have fewer fragrances, remaining within the spectrum of chocolate and spicy, and sometimes even woody or earthy. It will also be more bitter, thanks to the higher caffeine content.

It will also bring a fuller, rounder body to the cup and a more consistent cream.

 

You just have to experiment firsthand and you will immediately notice all these differences in taste.

 

Quite likely, you will not be able to identify each specific aroma at the first try, for that it takes training and a lot of experimentation, but you will immediately understand that a single-origin Arabica coffee is different from a Robusta coffee, without any shadow of a doubt.

 

I recommend that you try our two most different coffees and immediately experience firsthand:

  • Sidamo Etiope - a fresh, fruity, citrus and floral single-origin Arabica, delicate and pushed towards a pleasant and soft acidity CLICK HERE >>
  • Stretto - a robust, full-bodied and creamy blend, with persistent bitterness and rich in caffeine CLICK HERE >>

 

 

Martina Mazzoleni 

 

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