Arabica or Robusta: all the differences between the two coffees

I maestri della tostatura media
Arabica and Robusta are two of the most important coffee species.

We have already discussed this in another article: “Let’s get some clarity: is arabica better than robusta?” >>

Today I want to go into more detail, explaining the technical differences, starting right from the plant, the fruit and the bean to the differences in the result in the cup.

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

The flower is very similar in shape, color and scent to that of the jasmine, from which springs a cherry-like fruit, called drupe, containing twin kernels.

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

As you can guess from the sentence above, there are other species, but which I am not going to list here 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, as origin and genetic structure.

The two plants thus produce completely different grains from each other, 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 largest Arabica species coffee producing countries, in descending order, are Brazil, Colombia and Ethiopia;

The largest Robusta species coffee producing countries, in descending order, are Vietnam and Indonesia.

The plant



The Arabica species prefers a Sub-tropical climate, growing in a temperature range of 15 to 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, also resistant to high temperatures.

For this reason, Arabica plantations are mainly found in high altitude, between 700 and 2200m above sea level.

For this reason, Robusta plantations are mainly found in flat or maximum hilly areas, between 0 and 900m above sea level.

Growing in altitude, plants are subjected to a greater temperature range. The kernel, in order to repair itself, produces more essential oils, resulting in a denser kernel as well.

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

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

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

The fruits grow evenly over the entire branch.

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

The plant reaches heights of about 4-6 meters, although 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 susceptible to disease and attack by pests and insects. This, together with the fact that it grows in steep areas, makes it more difficult to cultivate.

This plant is very resistant to disease and pest and/or insect attack, hence referred to as “Robusta,” although the technical name is Canephora.

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

Finally, the Robusta species plant has 22 chromosomes, which means it is Allogama (cross-pollinated) and needs external weathering or insects for pollination to occur.

The grain



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

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

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

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

Finally, these beans have a low caffeine content, that is, between 0.9 and 1.7 percent.

Finally, these beans have a higher caffeine content, almost double, or between 1.6 and 3 percent.

I know, I’ve been very technical so far, but it seemed only fair to give you some specific and timely guidance on their differences.

All this produces important differences in the cup as well!
  • Arabica beans produce fruity, floral and chocolaty extract coffees with notes of nuts, citrus, ripe fruits, red fruits, caramel, flowers and so on. They are therefore more delicate, sweet and pleasantly acidic. In addition, due to the higher content of essential oils, which we saw earlier, they offer a very wide aromatic range in a single cup.
  • Robusta beans produce coffee extracts that are more intense and bitter, with notes of wood, earth, spice, and bitter cocoa. They also offer a much less wide aromatic range.

In addition, when extracted in espresso, Robustas are fuller bodied and higher in cream, though less persistent over time, deflating in fact within seconds. Whereas Arabica coffees offer less full-bodied coffees with a thinner crema, but much more durable over time.

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

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

Experts consider Arabica quality coffees to be the most valuable, and I agree, precisely because they offer a wider aromatic range, are more delicate, and, in general, also have fewer defects.

Here are our single-origin Arabicas, to experience their taste on your skin:

However, it is also true that one must distinguish objective opinion from subjective opinion.

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

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

If you want to try our 100% robust, here is the STRONG >>

But there is yet another variable: blends.

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

Because we are thus able to give our cup scents and aromas brought by the arabics, along with the creaminess and full-bodiedness of the robustas.

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

Here are our different blend options:

We look forward to seeing you at Torrefazione in Milan for a free consultation on the coffee best suited to your taste, or email us at [email protected] for a free online consultation!

Martina Mazzoleni

Marketing, E-commerce e Social Media Manager
Coffee Lover


Martina Mazzoleni

Marketing, E-commerce e Social Media Manager Coffee Lover

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