Arabica or Robusta: all the differences between the two coffees


Arabica and Robusta are two of the most important coffee species.

We have already talked about it in another article: "Let's do some clarity: is Arabica better than Robusta?" >>

Today I want to deepen the discussion, explaining the technical differences, starting from the plant, the fruit and the beans and then the differences you can find as a result in the cup.

Let's start: the coffee plant is an evergreen shrub, of the Rubiaceae family, genus Coffea.

The flower is very similar in shape, color and scent to that of jasmine, from which a fruit similar to a cherry, called Drupa, is born, containing two twin grains.


The two most important species are Arabica and Robusta, and hundreds of other varieties derive from each.

As you can guess from the sentence above, there are other species, but I am not going to list them, because they are not yet commercialized enough to be relevant.

What does all this mean?

The fact that they are two different species implies that there are substantial differences already at the base, in terms of origin and genetic structure.

The two plants therefore produce completely different beans, bringing different notes, aromas and characteristics to the cup!

The differences between the two species: Arabica VS Robusta!

First of all the production areas

  • The major Arabica coffee producing countries, in descending order, are Brazil, Colombia and Ethiopia;
  • The major Robusta coffee producing countries, in descending order, are Vietnam and Indonesia.

The plant


CANEPHORA (Robusta) 

The Arabica species prefers a sub-tropical climate, growing in a temperature range between 15 and 24 ° C and no more, because it is very sensitive to high temperatures.

The Robusta species prefers a tropical climate, with ideal temperatures between 23 and 30 ° C, resistant even to high temperatures.

For this reason, Arabica plantations are mainly found on high ground, between 700 and 2200m a.s.l.

For this reason, the Robusta plantations are mainly found in flat or hilly areas, between 0 and 900m a.s.l.

Growing in altitude, plants are subjected to a greater temperature range. The bean, to repair itself, produces more essential oils, resulting also more dense.

Growing in the plains, the plants are subjected to a lower temperature range. The bean will therefore be less dense, and with a lower concentration of essential oils.

The Arabica plant needs about 6-9 months of ripening to produce its fruit.

The Robusta plant needs about 9-11 months of ripening to produce its fruit.

The fruits grow evenly all over the branch.

The fruits grow in clusters separated from each other along the branch.

The plant reaches heights of about 4-6 meters, even if it is pruned to a maximum of 3 meters to facilitate harvesting by farmers.

The plant reaches heights of about 13 meters, although in plantations it is pruned to a maximum of 3 meters to facilitate harvesting.

This plant is very sensitive to diseases and to attack by parasites and insects. This, coupled with the fact that it grows in steep areas, makes it more difficult to grow.

This plant is very resistant to diseases and to attack by parasites and / or insects, which is why it is called "Robusta", even if the technical name is Canephora.

Finally, the Arabica plant has 44 chromosomes, this means that it is Autogamous (self-pollinating) and does not need other external agents.

Finally, the Robusta species plant has 22 chromosomes, this means that it is Allogama (cross-pollination) and needs external atmospheric agents or insects for pollination to take place.

The beans 



The Arabica bean is oval, flat and more elongated than the Robusta bean, with a more sinuous central line.

The Robusta bean is rounded, rounded and generally smaller than Arabica, with a straight central line.

It reaches lengths of about 8-12mm, even if the beans are measured with another unit of measurement: the sieve.

It reaches lengths of about 5-8mm, even if the beans are measured with another unit of measurement: the sieve.

Finally, these beans have a low caffeine content, i.e. between 0.9 and 1.7%.

Finally, these beans have a higher caffeine content, almost double, i.e. between 1.6 and 3%.


I know, so far I have been very technical, but it seemed right to give you precise and precise indications on their differences.

All this produces important differences even in the cup!

  • Arabica beans produce fruity, floral and chocolate extracts coffee, with notes of nuts, citrus, ripe fruit, red fruits, caramel, flowers and so on. They are therefore more delicate, sweet and pleasantly acidic. Moreover, thanks to the higher content of essential oils, which we have seen before, they offer a very wide range of aromas in a single cup.
  • Robusta beans produce more intense and bitter coffee extracts, with notes of wood, earth, spices and bitter cocoa. They also offer a much less wide range of aromas.

Furthermore, if extracted in espresso, the Robusta are more full-bodied and with a higher cream, even if less persistent over time, deflating in fact in a few seconds. While Arabica coffees offer less full-bodied coffees with a thinner but much more resistant cream over time.

In fact, it is said that the Arabica cream is more beautiful, because it has a very dense texture, which lasts several minutes, as well as being smooth and shiny. It means that if you put the cup against the light, it will reflect the light itself.

But let's get to the gist: who is Arabica coffee suitable for and who Robusta coffee is suitable for!

For experts, Arabica quality coffees are considered the finest, and I agree, precisely because they offer a wider aromatic range, are more delicate and, in principle, also have fewer defects.

Here are our single-origin Arabica, to try their taste on your skin:

However, it is also true that objective and subjective opinion must be distinguished.

If I personally prefer more bitter and full-bodied coffees?

Then for you the best coffee will be Robusta, which will fully satisfy your desires!

If you want to try our 100% robusta, here is the STRETTO >>

But there is still another variable: the blends.

Especially when it comes to espresso, in 99% of bars we drink blends, why?

Because in this way we are able to give our cup aromas and aromas brought by Arabica, together with the creaminess and body of the Robusta.

Then based on whether there is a higher percentage of one or the other quality, we move from more delicate and fragrant coffees to more and more intense coffees.

Here are our different blend options:

We are waiting for you at the Torrefazione in Milan for a free consultation on the coffee that best suits your tastes, or write to us on to get a free online advice!

Martina Mazzoleni 

The best coffees, roasted to perfection and delivered where you want

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