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Arabica and Robusta: What coffee is better to buy and what's difference

Arabica and Robusta: What coffee is better to buy and what's difference Which coffee is better (illustration: Freepik)
Author: Daryna Vialko

Two types of coffee are most commonly used for brewing: Arabica and Robusta. Despite the fact that these types are very similar in appearance, especially in ground form, there is quite a significant and noticeable difference between them.

Sources used to prepare the material: The Kitchn, Aromatico, Perk Coffee.

The difference between Arabica and Robusta

These two types of coffee differ primarily in taste, antioxidant properties, and caffeine content. In addition, the conditions for growing the plants differ, which affects the cost and availability of the beans.

How Robusta and Arabica are grown

The Arabica coffee plant grows better in extreme climatic conditions, at a higher altitude than Robusta. That's why it's grown more in South and Central America, as well as in some parts of Africa.

Robusta is easier to grow because it adapts better to different weather conditions and temperatures. Unlike arabica, it prefers warmer climates and can thrive in lower elevations.

Robusta varieties also demonstrate greater immunity to disease and increased productivity compared to Arabica.

Robusta also produces fruit much faster than Arabica, which takes several years to ripen, and yields more crop per tree.

How to distinguish Robusta from Arabica beans

Robusta and Arabica also differ in the shape and size of the beans. Robusta beans are typically smaller and more round compared to Arabica beans.

Arabica beans are usually larger, have an elongated and flat shape, and a slightly curved crease in the longitudinal section.

The difference in cost between Robusta and Arabica

Due to the peculiarities of growing, Arabica is usually more expensive. While it's possible to find cheaper Arabica, the quality and taste properties will likely reflect the lower price.

Additionally, Arabica may be blended with cheaper Robusta - not just for cost savings but also to diversify the flavor profile.

The difference in taste between Robusta and Arabica

Arabica has a richer but at the same time milder flavor, which, despite the slight “sourness” of berries or fruits, has notes of chocolate and sugar. In other words, Arabica beans are extremely versatile.

Robusta has a sharper, more bitter, and “harder” flavor that is a bit reminiscent of peanuts. However, this does not mean that robusta is generally worse - it all depends on individual preferences.

Арабіка і робуста: яку каву краще купувати і яка різниця

The difference between arabica and robusta in taste (illustration: Freepik)

Which coffee is stronger

Due to their higher caffeine content, plants are less susceptible to pests. Robusta is not an exception.

The caffeine content in Robusta is two to three times higher than in Arabica. While the caffeine content in Arabica is only 0.8-1.4%, the caffeine content in Robusta is as high as 1.7-4.0%.

But despite the fact that robusta can be more invigorating than arabica, a higher caffeine content is not always good.

Which is better to choose

The answer to this question depends on personal preferences and the type of coffee drink. While Arabica has a more refined flavor, Robusta produces a better foam, which is why it is often used for espresso.

In addition, due to its higher caffeine content, robusta is better suited for consumption in the morning - or long before bedtime.

Finally, the combination of Arabica and Robusta in different proportions is used in so-called blends, which gives coffee a unique and distinctive taste.

Therefore, the best option is to taste different types of coffee and choose arabica or robusta based on taste and health benefits.

By the way, earlier we wrote about how to use coffee grounds.