All around the world, 70 countries grow coffee beans. But do they grow the same kind of coffee, or are there variations? After reading this article’s title, you must have formed the idea that there are only two types of coffee beans – Arabica and Robusta. But in fact, there is one more kind – Liberica. All three coffee beans mentioned have different tastes and different aromas. It all depends on how they were harvested and roasted. To keep this article short, we will only compare Arabica vs. Robusta Coffee Beans.
Different Kind of Coffee Beans
As a rule of thumb, Arabica is the most popular coffee bean. It is also the most commercially used one. 80% of all the global coffee harvest is Arabica. It is due to mainly two reasons. First, Arabica has the highest yield, which makes it a lucrative harvest for farmers. On the other hand, the end consumers, knowingly, or unknowingly, prefer Arabica coffee beans as it has a sweet and mild flavor.
As far as Robusta is concerned, hard-core coffee lovers prefer this bean, as it has 2.5% more caffeine than any other bean. It tastes earthy, nutty, and butter. And Liberica is the least popular coffee bean, partly because it has the lowest yield, which demotivates farmers to pick other high yield variants.
What are Arabica Coffee Beans?
As previously mentioned, Arabica Coffee is the most popular one. 90% of all specialty coffee from North America, Australia, and Europe is Arabica. They have a sweet flavor and pleasant aroma. But depending on the climate, they are grown in, their taste can vary. This is true for the other types of coffee beans as well.
There are quite a few variations of Arabica Coffee beans, among which Bourbon and Typica are the most popular ones.
No matter the sub-variation, all Arabica coffee grows in Tropical and Sub-Tropical climates and on elevated land. Arabica farms are usually 4,000-6,000 feet above sea level. Along with North America, Australia, and Europe, Arabica is grown in Brazil, Kenya, Sumatra, Ethiopia, Colombia, and Costa Rica.
Arabica Coffee plants have oval-shaped and dark green leaves. Their cherries take eight months to ripen and are oval-shaped too.
When it comes to harvesting, the per acre yield for Arabica is much lower than Robusta. Also, unlike Robusta Coffee Beans, the Arabica variation is more vulnerable to pests and various diseases. Farmers need to pick a land that is 1,300 meters above sea level for the highest quality Arabica beans. When the Arabica beans are ripe, the fruit smells like blueberries.
What are Robusta Coffee Beans?
Robusta Coffee might often be called Vietnamese coffee. It is because Vietnam is the largest exporter of them. The Natives there prefer Robusta coffee, which explains why they mainly grow this variant of the coffee.
Other nations that produce Robusta coffee beans include Indonesia, India, and Uganda. Robusta coffee plants do not require the extensive care and nurturing that other coffee types need.
They can grow on sloped land with low soil quality. Most lands that grow Robusta aren’t high enough; thus, rainwater gets trapped on top of them, which ultimately affects the Robusta beans’ taste.
There are two more reasons why Robusta tastes bitter. First, these plants do not have many nutrients. They grow on impoverished soil, and farmers voluntarily let them grow naturally, without pruning or taking proper care of them.
The second reason is, their beans contain higher caffeine as a defense mechanism. Robusta plants are a wild variant. Over the centuries, they have evolved to produce bitter cherries. This bitterness deters herbivorous animals from devouring all the cherries when they ripe.
Arabica VS Robusta Coffee Beans
Now that we know about Arabica and Robusta Beans let us compare these two against each other.
Plant & Cultivation
Arabica is undoubtedly the most popular variation of coffee beans. And Robusta is only second to Arabica. The largest producers of Robusta coffee are Vietnam, and the largest producer of Arabica coffee is Brazil. The Arabica plants grow 2.5 – 4.5 meters, and the Robusta plant grows to 4.5 – 6 meters in height. When it comes to the shape of the beans, Arabica is oval, and Robusta is round. Robusta is less sensitive to insects and has a higher yield. On the flip side, Arabica is more expensive to produce but has a lower yield.
Both of these two coffee beans are rich in Antioxidants, particularly Chromogenic Acid (CGA). Robusta has 7-10% CGA, and Arabica has 5.5-8% CGA. Due to high caffeine content, the Robusta beans have a bitter taste. On the flip side, the Arabica coffee beans have a sweet flavor. Moreover, as Arabica is self-pollinating, there is very little chance of mutation. Thus all Arabica has the same flavor.
Arabica Coffee Beans has more sugar content than Robusta. Probably this is the main reason why Arabica is so popular. Arabica has 60% more lipids in its beans than Robusta. The high lipid content gives Arabica a pleasant flavor.
Robusta has higher caffeine content, almost double that of Arabica beans. As a percentage of their entire body weight, Robust has 2.7% caffeine. On the other hand, Arabica has only 1.5%.
Despite having a higher caffeine content, Robusta coffee beans sell a half the price of Arabica. This price difference is because, for a premium Arabica Coffee Beans batch, farmers need to use expensive pesticides. Also, Arabica beans have a lower yield per acre.
Which Coffee Bean is Right for you?
It depends on you. If you like a bitter taste, you should go with Robusta. On the other hand, if you prefer a milder taste, you should stick to Arabica Coffee Beans. But there are many coffee blends in the market that combine these two to get a hybrid flavor. You should try one if you haven’t already.
We hope this article helped you understand the different types of coffee beans. We also looked at Arabica vs. Robusta Coffee Beans. Leave a comment below saying which of the variations you like the most.