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Arabica or Robusta: What's difference and which coffee is better to choose

Arabica or Robusta: What's difference and which coffee is better to choose Illustrative photo (Photo: Freepik)
Author: Daria Shekina

Arabica and Robusta are two biological species of coffee. It's often heard that Robusta is less elite and of lower quality, so it's not as popular among coffee enthusiasts. But is that really the case?

RBC-Ukraine writes about the characteristics of each variety of coffee and which beans are better to choose.

Materials from Beannbeancoffee and Perkcoffee were used.

What are the characteristics of Arabica?

Arabica contains less caffeine than Robusta, which is why it is considered better in terms of taste. It has a softer, sweeter flavor with notes of chocolate and sugar. The beans often have hints of fruit or berries.

According to the International Coffee Organization, over 60% of the world's coffee production comes from Arabica cultivators. It was the type of bean from which the entire history of coffee began in Ethiopia, where it is still grown today.

Of the two most common types of Arabica coffee beans, Typica is considered the original coffee of the New World because it was the first to be imported into various countries. This is also a low-yield variety valued for its excellent quality. On the other hand, Bourbon Arabica varieties are prized for their complex and balanced aroma. They also have natural subspecies such as Caturra, San Ramon, and Pacas.

What are the characteristics of Robusta?

Robusta is often referred to as the street-smart younger brother of Arabica. It has a stronger, sharper, and more bitter taste with grainy or rubbery undertones.

Despite its less refined taste, Robusta is widely used in espresso blends because it produces better crema than Arabica. This type of coffee contains more caffeine.

It is believed that the elevated caffeine content in Robusta, along with chlorogenic acids (natural antioxidants), is a result of the plant's self-defense mechanism against pests and diseases. When chlorogenic acids are present in small amounts, they are considered an important part of the coffee's flavor profile.

However, Robusta contains a higher level of these acids, and the oxidation products that result from this can sometimes cause unwanted flavors, potentially diminishing the quality of the beverage.

Which coffee is better to choose?

Most people prefer Arabica over Robusta because it is tastier. Arabica has a softer and sweeter flavor, while Robusta is known for its bitter and traditional coffee taste. However, it all depends on your taste preferences.

If you enjoy sweet and fruity flavors, you will likely prefer Arabica, but if you like earthy and bitter flavors, then Robusta may be a better choice for you.

If you can't decide between the two types of coffee, you can also opt for a blend - a mixture of Arabica and Robusta to achieve a more complex flavor.