Arabica Coffee V Robusta Coffee

There are two main species of coffee that are cultivated for commercial use but what is the difference and which is superior?

Arabica Coffee

Making up around 70% of global coffee production, Arabica coffee is considered far superior to other cultivated species. Mild and aromatic, roasted Arabica coffee is naturally lower in caffeine than boasting around 40-50 per cent less caffeine than Robusta. Arabica is smooth coffee with a soft mouth feel and is characterised by its intense aroma. It has a light to medium body with sweetness and zesty flavours.

Deemed to be the first species of coffee to ever be cultivated, the Coffea Arabica plant is thought to be a direct descendent of the coffee originally indigenous in Ethiopia. Typically grown at high altitudes, the Coffea Arabica plant thrives anywhere between 610 and 1830 metres above sea level hence why it is often referred to as ‘Mountain Coffee’. Another alias of the Coffea Arabica plant is ‘Coffee Shrub of Arabia’ due to the fact it has been grown in Arabia for in excess of a thousand years. Arabica coffee plants require far more care and attention in cultivation than other species accounting for its premium price. The plant is delicate and needs specific conditions to flourish. Arabica coffee plants grow to around five metres in height and can take up to seven years to fully mature.

Robusta Coffee

Originating from Africa, the Coffea Canephora plant is more widely referred to as Robusta Coffee and accounts for 30% of global coffee production. Robusta has earthy and woody flavours with full body and yields excellent crema. Robusta is traditionally blended with Arabica to create a well-balanced blend. With double the caffeine content of Arabica, Robusta naturally has a more intense taste, yet this powerful flavour can be desirable in a blend to give it perceived strength and excellent crema.

In contrast to Arabica, Robusta beans are smaller and rounder in appearance. Robusta coffee plants are less labour intensive in terms of cultivation than Arabica plants. Their shallow root systems mean they can grow at lower altitudes with higher temperatures and are able to withstand harsher growing conditions. Coffea Canephora plants are less susceptible to pests and disease. As they require less tender loving care and produce a higher crop yield than Arabica, the production costs of Robusta are significantly reduced. Roasted Robusta beans are the less expensive of the two species due to the different cultivation techniques.

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